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Monday, April 9, 2012

The Horny Roommate - Part 1 (Sex Talk and Virgin Ears)

Hey Bro Jo,

I have a bit of an awkward predicament. Awkward for myself, at least. I'm wondering if you (and maybe Sister Jo would have tips from a woman's perspective) have any advice.

I live in an apartment at BYU-I with five other girls. My roommate is engaged and has been talking about having a bridal shower with us and all of her friends (so it would be quite a crowd). The only bridal showers I have been to have been pampered chef bridal showers. Pretty calm, friendly, and G-rated.

My roommate is talking about going all-out with her bridal shower. Lingerie, toys, games for everyone, the whole bit.

I'm quite a private person and don't like talking about sex or "games" or scenarios or anything like that with anybody, really. It has always made me uncomfortable. Heck, when my parents explained it to me when I was a kid, I cried. I told my roommates when we were talking about it that I was uncomfortable talking about it, and they just kind of laughed and said "you'll get used to it."

Bro Jo, I do not want to get "used to" talking about sex with people I barely know. Or even with people I do know. I know that when I am married, it will be a very enjoyable, romantic, lovely thing to share with my eternal companion, and I look forward to that part of my life, but that is something I will only share with him. Nobody else. I don't want other people to know what my sex plans are after marriage, and I don't want to know anybody else's. It's such a sacred thing! And I just feel so uncomfortable and very disturbed when others talk about it. Are they just doing it for attention? Or do they just not have a filter? Or am I overly sensitive? I don't know. But I do know that I don't like it.

I guess some people see the bridal showers as fun and full of giggles. exciting and naughty, but I see it as anything but.

I don't even plan on having a bridal shower (at least not one focused on sex) when I get married (if I'm blessed with that in this life). When I'm engaged, I don't even know that my fiance and I would talk about it that much. I imagine there might be one conversation about how we feel about "it", but not much else. I already know it will be this way if my future fiance is my current boyfriend. It just simply isn't something we focus on. Which is good in general, and totally fine with both of us. We're both very private people and love that our relationship is based on much more than just physical attraction. Our physical contact is minimal. We kiss goodnight, hold hands, and cuddling is no more than sitting next to each other with his arm around my shoulders and my head on his shoulder.

And right now I'm in Idaho and he's at home, so there is no physical part of the relationship - and we're okay with this, because the relationship is not based off of that. It's much better than that, and I love it. We both love each other for who we are. We've prayed about our relationship and my moving away to school (only for two years, 7 months at a time with a week home in April), and both know we're on the right track with me going away, AND with us continuing the relationship. We don't know what the Lord has in store for each of us, and we're fully aware this relationship could or could not work in the end. But we trust the Lord and we trust each other, and we have both received clear messages that everything is going just the way it should. It Just. Feels. Right. And what a wonderful feeling that is. :)

And if I am engaged to someone other than my current boyfriend, I've already made the decision for myself that sex is just something I don't need to talk about too much.

Anyway. Back to the bridal shower party. Do I have skewed feelings on this subject? Or is this typically okay? I don't want to go to this party, but I also don't want to come off as rude. I don't really know what to do without making this awkward.

One of my roommates, while she doesn't have the same discomfort I have, is understanding of how I feel, and suggested we have a code phrase to save each other in awkward situations (like the bridal shower conversation that happened the other day). She is a good friend. And this code-phrase-deal is nice, but doesn't solve the problem for the party.


Sorry this is so long. I do tend to ramble.

Thanks for your help,

Virgin Ears



Dear V.E.,

Some of the most valuable lessons we learn in college have nothing to do with our course work, and the lesson you're supposed to learn right now is how to stand up for yourself without offending the offensive.

Sister Jo had lots of different roommates before she married and moved in with her best, and sometimes most difficult one . . . me!

Some were pretty good . . . many were not. It's tough to live with other people; learning to get along with others is very valuable (talk to some RM's sometimes about the annoying things some of their companions did), but that doesn't mean that you have to sit there and listen to your horny-soon-to-be-married roommate talk in graphic detail about her future-sex-life fantasies.

(You know, while it's possible she could just be really excited about . . . stuff, she may also be joking around because she's really freaked out. I'm from the Old School that believes that a healthy sex-life, that being comfortable with that, means that you don't talk about it other than with the person you're having sex with. It's like any other situation where people go on and on about something; if you have to keep trying to convince me, well . . . you're probably really trying to convince yourself.)

Sister Jo had some roommates that were like that: obsessed with "adventurous sex talk". In fact, she knows women who are STILL like that. Seriously! Ladies she knows who want to dish about what's going on with their husbands and are hoping she'll do the same. Sister Jo is no prude, but like you she feels that certain things are nobody's business. I will forever be grateful that I'm married to a woman who keeps the private stuff between her and I private; and I feel sad for my friends who's wives blab to everybody (people take confidence in Sister Jo, but some people will go on and on in a group regardless of who's there) about their likes, dislikes, quirks, successes, failures, functions and malfunctions.

We live in a world where a lot of people, inside the Church and out, talk, laugh, describe, and are entertained by sex. I agree that there's a certain amount of information that can be both healthy and valuable, but I also believe that the intimate details of what happens between two people are best kept private and sacred. I also think the joking is pretty immature . . . but I recognize that I'm probably on a sparsely populated island in that opinion (though I know Sister Jo is on it, too).

So I think you need to go up to your roommate, the one that's getting married, and have a private conversation with her. Tell her you love her, that you're happy for her, and that you wish her well. And tell her that, despite the fact that you love her, all the sex jokes and talk don't really match with your feelings about sex, and that they make you uncomfortable. While you support her right to say and do what she wants, you're going to remove yourself from those situations. Remind her that you love her, and tell her that you won't be going to her bridal shower. You're not asking her to change it; she should do what she thinks will be fun; but you'll find a different way to congratulate her and wish her well. Perhaps you'll take her to lunch . . .

If you feel so inspired, share with her your feelings that being around that kind of talk and joking around makes it difficult for you to focus on the sacredness of something you feel should be kept sacred. (After all, there is a line where talking and laughing and joking about sex is no longer "just talk", it becomes pornography.) But do so in such a way that you're putting it on yourself, not attacking her, lest you make her defensive or uncomfortable the way you have been uncomfortable.

She may mock you, she may make fun of you (either to your face, behind your back, or both); she may not understand, or say that your attitudes about sex are unhealthy.

That's her problem, not yours.

She's entitled to her opinion; you're entitled to yours.

And if she does make fun of you at least you'll know that she's not a very nice person.

Plan on separating yourself from these moments of gratuitous sex talk. Don't make a scene, don't make a statement, just quietly get up and go somewhere else. Your room, the library, the park . . .

As the prophets have said, we need to be "in the world" but not "of the world", and sometimes that means walking away.

Let me know how your conversation goes, would ya?

Best,

Bro Jo


[Readers - Part 2 will publish in one week.]

10 comments:

Frank Pellett said...

My dear wife had recently been invited to an "adult" products party (which seems to be much like Pampered Chef or Tupperware, just for "adult" items), and she was surprised at what faithful LDS married women in our ward would talk about when it comes to sex. She wasn't the only one uncomfortable with it (by her report), but it all went smoothly without anyone teasing or judging about each others breadth of sexual knowledge. Some people talk about (or joke about) such things to either show off their "knowledge" or to prove that they aren't "naive" about such things.

I agree with the advice given. Talk to your roommate, alone, about it. Sometimes its as simple as an "i'm not comfortable with this, I'll have to pass". No lecture on what she should be doing, or jusding about others righteousness - just not participating in it.

Good luck and stay the course on your current relationship. No matter what the world says, there is much, much more to a relationship than sex, even a married relationship. Sex is certainly important, but it certainly is not the thing that makes or breaks any relationship.

Concerned said...

Good advice, generally, except there is one thing that this dear sister really needs to know, one that you didn't address this time, but that I hope to heaven you already discussed with her.

Quote:
"When I'm engaged, I don't even know that my fiance and I would talk about it that much. I imagine there might be one conversation about how we feel about 'it', but not much else."

I cannot express how much this worries me. I know that we are trying to avoid the evils surrounding the corruption of God-given sexuality, but methinks some of the parents and teachers in Zion have gone too far. To not even be able to say the word 'SEX' means that this poor woman has it so tightly coupled with 'EVIL' that when her honeymoon comes, she may not be able to easily separate the two. LDS therapist Laura Brotherson very aptly calls this the Good Girl Syndrome in her landmark book, And They Were Not Ashamed (Deseret Book).

I will say that one short conversation prior to the wedding is not enough. Couples, at least in the final four weeks prior to marriage, should be able to respectfully and properly communicate their expectations and their beliefs regarding sex. They should be able to use anatomically correct language without shame. They should know the Lord's expectations of the sexual union, and that He expects and rejoices in the holy exercise of such.

To this sister, I commend this book and ones similar to it. Deseret Book has an excellent selection of respectful literature.

Felicia said...

I am so grateful for the brave girl who posted this. Coming from another BYU-I girl with virgin ears, this topic needed to be addressed. Thanks for the response BroJo, and I am proud to be considered old-fashioned with you. I am going to stand up for what I think in a stronger way now.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it's because I am from a more worldly place, but I've never heard of a bridal shower that didn't involve lingerie and such; however, my only experience with bridal showers is my sisters' bridal showers. And this sounds more like a bachalorette party than a bridal shower.

Dave Johnston said...

The topic of discussing sex and sexual expectations with your fiance is addressed in:

"Bro Jo’s "LIST of STUFF YOU NEED TO KNOW TO BEFORE YOU GET ENGAGED"

which can be found HERE -> (http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10150599081725085) on the Facebook page

and in the book "Bro Jo's Guide to Relationships".


Being sold at Deseret Book is not a guarantee of quality or virtue, although most things there meet both criteria.


Sex is both intimate and personal, and there is nothing "adult" (mature . . . sophisticated . . . however you want to label it) about sex toys ("adult items"), pornography (not okay even if you're watching it with your spouse) or anything else (including conversations) that treat what should be sacred too lightly.

The best thing one can do to improve their sex life is to talk to the person they're having sex with (again, this is supposed to be their spouse).

One reason people joke about sex is because they're uncomfortable and looking for recognition or acceptance.

I would be hurt and horrified if Sister Jo ever shared details about what I consider to be intimate and between us with anyone else, in any context. And I have no doubt that she would feel the same.

It's like the old adage: if you have to talk about how great you are, you're not . . . and you know it.

- Bro Jo

Anonymous said...

There are several books that I have read about this topic, and all of them have all said the same things basically, including 'And they were not ashamed." Like I said earlier, my only experiences about this is my sisters' wedding showers and conversations with my parents, along with these books. From what I've heard though, I wouldn't consider lingerie or similar items inappropriate. The basics of what I've been told is that with a few absolutes, it's all a matter of what the couple feels comfortable with, as long as it's all in the spirit of love.

Virgin Ears said...

Hello, "Virgin Ears" here. Just want to make a quick comment responding to Concerned's concerns.
Long story short...
I know.
I have a past, and I appreciate your concern, but my point in saying I will not be talking about it much with my fiance is not because I feel sex is a bad thing, but because I don't even want to come close to crossing the line (be it in action, words, or thoughts) before it is appropriate. Yes, we should talk about it before we're married, but my point is that I feel it should not be excessive. As in something we talk about all the time... or even every day.. but yes, I fully understand there will be discussion.
I've come far too close to the line before and crossed it, and I feel that because I've done that and have learned personally how sacred and beautiful it is, I just don't feel the need to make it much of a focus before I make covenants. So while my signature name is "virgin ears", it doesn't necessarily mean I'm naive or find sex to be taboo.

I didn't say the word "sex" in that sentence, but that does not necessarily mean I couple it with "evil". I just find the topic to be very private. Hence the anonymous email. It's like choosing to say "my private parts" instead of flat-out saying the anatomical name for it (I would just say it here, but I don't want Bro Jo to have to censor anything..?). Simply for comfort of conversation.

It's my own personal choice, and I feel right with the Lord about it.

That doesn't mean it's what everybody should do, but it is what I should do.

Thanks again for your concern. I'll be okay.

I do agree there are too many people out there, specifically LDS people, who are not open enough about the topic, and it is a problem. Not as big of a problem as chastity in the church is, but an important problem none-the-less.

Dave Johnston said...

@ Annon -

My apologies - seems I forgot my audience there for a moment; "lingerie" is not what comes to mind when people say "adult items" . . . I'll just let that go at that.

Sister Jo taught me that "pretty underwear" can go a long way towards a woman feeling pretty. This has already been discussed on these pages, but I'll reiterate here that:

- for the most part, what happens between a consensual couple in privacy is no one's business but their own
- Garments are quite sexy
- pornography and pornographic paraphernalia (and again, for those of you on the other side of the Zion Curtain, I don't include lacy things in that category) have no business in our homes or our relationships

- Bro Jo

Kylie said...

I'm not sure. I just graduated from BYU-I, and in my four years there, I have to say that some of the best conversations I had with my roommates started with talking about sex. Of course, we made sure to keep it PG-13. But the thing about those conversations is that it takes so much trust to open up to anyone like that. From that topic, we would go into what kind of guys we wanted to marry, what kind of relationship we would like, how we felt about ourselves and our bodies, do you see what I'm saying? So yes, if they are getting too graphic, say something. But a conversation about the fact that she's nervous about the wedding night can lead to a relationship with your roommate that can last even after she gets married. And I think that's the thing to focus on. If you lose the respect of your roommate, believe me, they can make your semester miserable. Just be open and honest about all of it.

Dave Johnston said...

@ Kylie -

Just wait until tomorrow's post - Part 2!

- Bro Jo