Practical Guide to talking about sex with your college student

If you want to have a more concrete conversation with your adolescent. You can try breaking it down into these parts.

Sex education focuses a lot on safety and abstinence but for a moment (even if your family believes in abstinence) lets just talk about sex in general because we would rather adolescents and young adults have the information from a good source.

Point #1 What can happen when sex isn’t talked about and the different ways we use sex. 

Who can we talk about sex with? friends…parents…trusted adult…so we don’t feel we all alone in this big thing.

How do we use sex? Pleasure, power & control, to build our own self esteem. Some of these can have great risks like if one only finds their power or self-esteem in sex, this can become a problem. We can’t base our worth on this. And if we are using sex to self soothe or calm our stress, this can also be a problem if we don’t have any other tools.

Point #2 Sex is Messy

No one knows what they are doing at first. It isn’t like the movies or pornography. For this reason, it is important to trust and feel good about who you are with. Are they kind and understanding? Or do they expect you to be perfect? Can they be vulnerable and own up to their own confusion sometimes?

Point #3 Also due to the very nature of sex, communication is key.

Can you talk about your own wants and needs? Or ask the person you are with? Communication is vulnerable and scary but without it, sex can be blind, confusing and murky. Here it is not just physical safety but also emotional safety. How you feel after sex matters? It can tell you something about how you are engaging in sex and if you are really listening to yourself.

Point #4 You are your own expert.

This doesn’t mean you can just do whatever you want but it does mean that you have to be the one to check in with yourself and see what you are ready for and who you are ready for these somethings with. You deserve to be respected and safe at all times. You only get one body.

And of course it doesn’t hurt to share a few practical things such as condoms are giving out at counseling centers for free. That getting tested for STDs after unprotected sex will be confidential for them. The school can’t call their parents and the sooner they get tested, the better chance of making sure things are okay. There are things that are just better to catch sooner. These are just things its good for students to know.

On our resources website I share 2 resources about sex that can be helpful. There’s a website iwannaknow.org/links.html that has useful info and then there is a YouTuber Hannah Witton who talks about all things sex.

So, I hope all of this been helpful. Bridge Box has had some information about consent and safety in our previous boxes and future boxes will have other information and tips about relationships and communication.

If there is anything you want to hear about, please just ask and I will write about it. Let me know If you have any questions.

From all of us at Bridge Box, Happy Fall!!!

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Carey J. Cook, LPC

Carey J. Cook, LPC

Carey J Cook is a Licensed Professional therapist in Asheville, NC. She has a private practice and is the co-founder of Bridge Box which was inspired by her work with college students. In different capacities, Carey has provided education and therapy to college students and families for over a decade. Carey seeks to understand and support college students during this phase of life and provide tangible tools to students via Bridge Box.