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Write Your Sexual History

Telling Your Personal Sexual Story

By

Updated July 08, 2014

Write Your Sexual History
Kristin Lee/Getty Images

If you’ve ever had a sexual history taken by a physician or therapist, they probably asked you a lot of questions about what you’ve done, when you did it, and who you did it with. That kind of sexual history is really for the benefit of your provider, as it allows them to better understand some aspect of your sexual health and then help you with whatever difficulties you are coming to them with.

Writing your own sexual history is a different kind of exercise. It’s only for your benefit and as such you get to define the terms and parameters and even the questions. Whatever sort of change or growth your looking for in terms of your sexuality or your sex life, writing your own sexual history offers many benefits including:

  • the chance to reflect on your experiences from your earliest memories to the present and think about the choices you’ve made and what resulted from those decisions,
  • getting a big picture perspective, that can help you see patterns and paths that you might not have otherwise noticed,
  • the chance to identify the things you like and don’t like, and understand your sexual terrain in new ways,
  • gaining a sense of emotional and psychological control over your sexual history and how you experience positive and negative past events in the present,
  • getting more control over your current sexual behaviors.

What Goes Into My Sexual History?

Just as history is about more than names and dates, your sexual history can include much more than what sexual behaviors you’ve engaged in, when, and with whom. Those details might be in there, but so might your thoughts and feeling about sex and how those have changed. It might also include the way you treat others and the way others have treated you over your life as it relates to sexuality and gender. Anything that you think is related or relevant to your sexuality or your sex life belongs in your sexual history, whether it’s a dirty joke you learned when you were six or your first orgasm.

 

Do I Have to Know How to Write?

Absolutely not. Remember that this may be something you never share with anyone and there are no bonus points for grammar, style or punctuation. The goal of this exercise is to make the elements of your sexual history explicit to yourself. Even if you can’t write this down on paper or type it out on a computer, the act of telling yourself these stories is beneficial. Keep in mind though that this isn’t always an easy thing to do. It takes some patience and perseverance, but the results are well worth it.

 

What’s a Sexual History Look Like When It’s Done?

Because you’re not doing this for anyone other than yourself (and possibly a partner if you choose later to share some of it) the final format can be anything. It might be that you write a story with a beginning, middle and end. Maybe one section is a poem. When you read the questions on the next page maybe you’ll feel like drawing something instead of writing out an answer. In the end, the point of the exercise is first to communicate something about your sexual development to yourself.

Where Do I Start?

There is no one way to write your sexual history. The best thing you can do is just start to write it. Some people like to start a story at the beginning, but you might want to start by writing down your most recent thoughts and work backward. What follows on the next few pages are major areas to consider and a few questions under each heading to get you started.

 

Sex Education: Often the circumstances surrounding our education are as influential as what we’re taught.

  • Who did you learn about sex from? How did that learning influence your sexuality and sex life?
  • What are your earliest memories of sex words (words for body parts, words for sexual activities, sexual orientations, words to describe sex workers, etc...)
  • What, if any, sex education did you receive from people other than your parents?

 

The People Around You: Sex isn’t entirely hardwired, in many ways we can consider ourselves products of our social environment.

  • How has your sexuality and sex life been influenced by your family?
  • How has your sexuality and sex life been influenced by your friends?
  • How has your sexuality and sex life been influenced by your teachers, mentors and heroes?

 

Sexual Milestones: From the first time you touched yourself and realized it felt good to the last time you revealed a sexual secret to a partner.

  • When would you say you lost your virginity?
  • What events produced some of the most important sexual discoveries in your life?
  • Are there sexual milestones you feel like you haven’t reached yet?

 

Sexual Satisfaction: Sexual satisfaction is one of those things most people can recognize but few of us bother to define carefully for ourselves.

  • When was a time when you were most sexually satisfied? When were you least sexually satisfied?
  • How has your thinking about sexual satisfaction changed over the years?
  • What is the most important element for you to be sexually satisfied? How has this changed over time?

 

Sexual Orientation: Who you are sexually attracted to, who you want to have relationships with, and who you end up in relationships with may change over time. Or not.

  • What sorts of messages did you grow up with about sexual orientation (being heterosexual, gay, lesbian, queer, bisexual)?
  • Have there been times in your life when you weren’t sure about who you were sexually attracted to or who you wanted to be in a relationship with?
  • How do you feel your environment has impacted how you feel about your sexual orientation?

 

Solo Sex: It’s the longest sexual relationship you’ll ever have, yet it's often overlooked in traditional sexual histories.

  • What’s your earliest memory of masturbation?
  • What sort of messages did you grow up with about masturbation?
  • How has masturbation been influenced by having sex with others?

 

Partner Sex

  • How has the way you have sex changed with time? With more sexual experiences? With different sexual partners?
  • What are or were some of your favorite sexual experiences with a partner? Least favorite?
  • What have you learned about your sexuality from having sex with others?

 

Sexual Fantasies

  • What were some of your earliest sexual fantasies?
  • Before you had sex with others, what did you imagine “having sex” was like? What did it include?
  • How would you describe your fantasy life now? Do you think you fantasize too much or not enough? Are there sexual fantasies you’ve brought into real life? How did that work out?

 

Influences

  • How do you think your cultural upbringing and identity influenced your sexuality and your sex life?
  • How do you think your religious (or non-religious) upbringing influenced your sexuality and your sex life?
  • How do you think the places you've lived influenced your sexuality and your sex life?

 

Sexual Difficulties

  • Have you had experiences where your body, mind, or emotions didn’t work the way you wanted them to sexually? Describe some of these times.
  • Have you ever talked with a professional about your sexual concerns or difficulties?
  • Do you think your sexuality or your sex life have ever been impacted by the sexual difficulties of a partner?

 

Sexual Values: Our position on issues such as monogamy, promiscuity, sex work, abortion, homosexuality and fundamental sexual rights may say a lot or nothing at all about who we are as sexual beings.

  • What were some of the sexual values you were raised with?
  • How have your values changed, and how have they remained the same over time?
  • Can you remember a time when you experienced a conflict between your values and your desires?

 

Sexual Trauma: If this is the first time you are intentionally thinking about traumatic events from your past, you should try to have some support in place before you start (a partner, a friend, or a counselor) to help you process anything that might come up as you explore.

  • Have you ever told anyone about your experience with sexual assault or abuse? If not, do you imagine a situation where you would feel safe to do so?
  • How do you think your sexuality and sex life today is influenced by past traumatic events? What about your own image of your body?

 

Sexual Risk: Taking risks is a big part of sexual development, and it doesn’t necessarily end when we stop being teenagers.

  • What are some examples of risks you’ve taken sexually? Do you feel like you understood the risks?
  • Has taking a sexually risk ever resulted in acquiring a sexually transmitted disease? An unwanted pregnancy? Sexual violence?
  • Are there different kinds of sexual risks you would like to take in the future?

 

Sexual Identities: How you describe your sexual self to others, including who you prefer to be with in sexual and intimate relationships, can also change over time. Or, again, maybe it won’t.

  • What are your earliest memories of stereotypes about people who were straight, gay, and transsexual?
  • Describe what you know about the sexual identities of your group of friends at different times in your life. How has the sexual identities of your social group influenced your feelings about your own sexual identities?
  • If you could change your sexual identity for a day (or a week) how would you change it? Would you want to change it for longer?


Gender Identities: How we experience ourselves and our partners as masculine, feminine, or something else has a huge and often unacknowledged impact on our sexuality and sex lives.

  • What sorts of gender labels do you remember hearing as a child? Tomboy, sissy, good little girl or boy, etc…? Do you remember what people said about you?
  • Can you remember a time when you felt like the way you were labeled masculine or feminine didn’t fit the way you felt?
  • Make a list of all the characteristics of yourself you feel are masculine and all the ones you feel are feminine.

 

Sexual Losses and Regrets: There are many different kinds of losses worth writing down; partners who are no longer in our lives, sexual behaviors we can’t do anymore, opportunities that are gone or we let pass by without noticing, and more.

  • What have been some of your biggest sexual losses in your life?
  • Do you have any sexual regrets and do you think they impact your current sexuality and sex life?
  • Are there things that were part of your sexuality and sex life in the past that you’d like to get back?

 

Major Sexual Changes

  • Thinking about your entire life, what are some of the biggest changes you’re aware of in your sexuality and sex life?
  • Who or what instigated those changes?
  • Are there major changes that you predict will be coming in the future?

 

Birth Control

  • What are your first memories about birth control? Did you find someone’s contraception in a drawer? Did you know what it was?
  • How would you describe your own use of birth control over the years?
  • How much of an influence do you think using and worrying about birth control has had on your sexuality and sex life?

 

Sexual Pain: Many people experience pain during sex, and whether it’s temporary or permanent, talking about it one important part of living with it.

  • Have you ever experienced pain during sex and kept it a secret? Describe it.
  • How much is pain a part of your sex life? How often does it get in the way of you enjoying sex?
  • If you haven’t discussed sexual pain with a partner or a health care provider, what do you think you’d need before you felt like you could?

 

Your Sexual Body

  • Have you noticed any differences in your body as you’ve gotten older that impact your sex life?
  • What are some of your favorite parts of your body? Has this changed over time?
  • If your body could tell a story about one sexual encounter you had, which would it be, and how would the story go?

 

Your Sexual Feelings

  • How have your feelings about your sexuality and sex life changed over time?
  • Describe one of your most emotional sexual experiences.
  • What are the sexual feelings you find easiest to express? Which ones are most difficult?

 

Your Sexual Spirit

  • What message were you raised with in regards to spirituality?
  • Describe any experience you’ve had that you would say combined sexuality or having sex with spirituality.
  • How would you describe your sexual spirit?

 

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