If You Can’t Talk About Sex, You Shouldn’t Be Having It.

Posted in   Blog, The MamaSutra   on  November 15, 2019 by  The MamaSutra minutes remaining

You should talk about Sex, I answered a question on Quora, and it went somewhat viral. My unpopular opinion about relationships is this:

If you can’t talk about sex, you shouldn’t be having it. 

I believe communication is critical in a romantic relationship. You should be able to communicate your desires, fears, needs, etc. and have a partner who can reciprocate and understand them. Otherwise, you’re bound to be very alone in the sex you have.

How does a person go about deciding their future relationships? Do they model their choices after what they see in movies? Are they selecting qualities they desire from characters in books? Do they look to other people in their lives and want what they have (or don’t have)?

The education we deserve about relationships doesn’t happen in schools. There is no formal education on how to find a partner. Given that, how well do we do on our own? Can we do better?

The reminder #TalkaboutSex

My friend Joe messaged me while he was on a solo vacation. Two years post-divorce, and he felt the worst he’d felt since the process began. Despite being in a beautiful resort in Bali, surrounded by families and couples, he felt alone. While we chatted, it hit me. Energetically, he was where I had been just a few years earlier after my divorce…  

The wake-up call

Flashback to even before that: New Year’s Eve was a tough holiday for me for a few years. In the mid-2000s, back when I was married with two young children, I had a few instances where I began to experience physiological pain: a pit in my stomach, my chest felt tight, I couldn’t take a deep cleansing breath, plus I got anxiety attacks. That always happened on New Year’s Eve. My body was grabbing me by the lapels and shaking me, trying to wake me up. “Do you want another year of this? Do something.” 

Fast forward

Skipping the unpleasant details, eventually, I did something; I got divorced. Here comes New Year’s Eve again. Knowing this holiday had a history of being tough for me, I wanted to go away.  

Like escaping ever solves anything.

I was single, and the kids were going to be with their father, so I found a package deal to Mexico. I thought it would be nice to meet other singles, but it was more in the back of my mind. Once at the resort, I quickly realized that there were NO other singles. Everywhere only families and couples enjoyed their time at the various pools. I felt so alone. Just like Joe was feeling today.

To pass the time – so I didn’t wallow in self-pity – I tried to read, but I just didn’t feel like it at all. Furthermore, I couldn’t interact with any of the hotel staff because my Spanish was rusty. Everyone on staff was functional in English but not conversant. 

So here I was on this beautiful beach by myself, and I finally gave in: I pulled out my computer intending to edit my dating profile. But as I did this, I noticed the rather superficial categories presented on the site for my preferences, and I was suddenly compelled to dig deeper into what I really wanted to find. 

Here’s where I started 

I began with a few free-form thoughts on me. Describing what I liked and didn’t, that in dating, I was looking to find someone for a long term thing.

Next, I wrote out a laundry list of qualities and characteristics I wanted to see in a mate. I tried to steer clear of the physical attributes like the options used on a dating site (height, weight, age, etc.) mainly because I had great experiences dating men who were outside of what I would have “normally” gone for (After that, it also just felt weird for me to rule folks out for physical stuff).

Then I tried to identify my deal makers and breakers, along with how I would recognize the behaviors if I saw them in real life. 

As I was writing all of this, I realized there was so much more I needed to get clear about first. So on that sun-filled beach in Mexico, on a breezy afternoon, I wrote something I coined “Lanae 3.0,” which became my own User’s Manual essentially. (The 3.0 represents me post-divorce, 1.0 was the young me and married me was 2.0). My manual had system requirements, troubleshooting, an end-user licensing agreement, etc. filed away on my laptop.

Chatting with Joe reminded me of my own solo vacation and that Users Manual still sitting on my computer. I told him about my trip and shared the piece I wrote. He suggested to make it into a workbook.

The workbook

So I wrote “Create Your Own Users Manual,” a guide to help us dig deep into what we want, to examine more closely what we need, and to identify how we will recognize those things in the real world. If we figure out those basics, eventually, we can communicate about things like sexual health, children, and safer sex too. It’s also about building safe and healthy relationships where people can dig into the deep stuff besides physical appearances.

Who am I? What do I want? What do I NOT want?

And to our partner – Who are you? What do you need? 

Do we match?

Only when you can be clear about what you want can you communicate that clearly to a potential partner. Part of finding the right partner means getting a clearer picture of what you want in a relationship. The guide helps you sort that out.

I wrote this guide to help me narrow down my essential needs, and it was incredibly instructive. It will be helpful for anyone to know what they want and what it is they don’t want. I offer it up to those who want to do some introspection.


From all outward appearances, the married life I had was one I’m sure others would have wanted. However, I really wasn’t happy. It was like I was sleepwalking through my life. Those anxiety attacks were my wake up call. 

Wake up!

Do something.

You’re running out of time. 

Just this past weekend, I heard a poem by Rumi that made me cry hot, ugly tears. It reminded me of that period of time before my divorce: 

rumi poem written over a picture of the sunrise

I’m not sleepwalking anymore. I’m asking for (and getting) what I want more and more. Yet I see folks going back and forth between conscious and unconscious behavior in their relationships. I had a lot of adaptive behaviors and coping mechanisms that keep me in a sort of limbo. But no more.

I think this guide can help to answer some of those questions about the relationships we want to have. The easy to fill out format asks you questions that will help you understand who YOU are, and what you want in a partner.

So, are there areas in your life where you’re sleepwalking? Where do you need to show up? What’s stopping you?

“The door is round and open. Don’t go back to sleep.”



p.s., If you want to Create Your Own User’s Manual, get your workbook here.

p.p.s., if you’d rather watch a short vid about this post instead of reading. 😉

About the Author The MamaSutra

Dr. Lanae St.John is a Diplomate of the American Board of Sexology and certified sex coach with a background in sexology and a passion for helping people improve their sexual health and relationships. She is the author of "Read Me: A Parental Primer for "The Talk"" and the upcoming "You Are the One: How stopping the search and looking inside will lead you to your romantic destiny," and is committed to staying up-to-date on the latest research and trends in the field. Dr. St.John aims to share her knowledge and expertise in a relatable and approachable way through her blog on themamasutra.com.

  • And the key to communicating your needs and desires is knowing what they are… self reflection, which is ongoing refinement and adaptation. I’ve also written a personal introduction of sorts, open and vulnerable, at a point where a significant relationship was experienced a fissure as the tension of imbalance of needs became to much.

    Now I find myself a year later in a foreign place with no one around who is relatable due to language and cultural differences. Unfortunately it’s more like an overpopulated dump than a resort. It gives new perspective. I’m learning more about myself and my own power of choice in what I can do next… it’s almost like the manual is for me.

    • Yes! Totally agree. And happy for you to have this time for self reflection. I’d love to hear how the Guide works for you.

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