Every Friday I ask you a question of the week. You can answer often, occasionally or not at all. If you have something to say but you’re feeling shy, you’re always welcome to comment anonymously.


If you could go back in time, what would you tell your younger self about sex?

There are three things I’d say to Twenty Years Ago Nadine if only I could:

1. Don’t waste your energy wishing for bigger boobs. Just enjoy wearing halter tops…while you still can.

2. Here’s the thing. You’re getting a lot of ideas about sexuality from movies, television, magazines and romance novels. And from your friends, who are getting a lot of their ideas about sexuality from movies, television, magazines and romance novels. Media is fun and entertaining…but it’s rarely the truth.

Sexuality is varied and diverse. It’s a smorgasbord of identities, desires, expressions, ideas and ethics. You don’t know a lot about real life sexuality. People have a hard time talking about sex open. When they do talk about it, they tend to be cautious and pretty guarded, especially around teenagers, so you’re not hearing a lot of man-on-the-street, truths about sex. What you are getting is a lot of sexualized media. It’s shiny and kind of cool looking, but it’s basically the same three ideas over and over again. So don’t stress because you don’t feel like a Seventeen magazine, Harlequin heroine. That’s never going to feel right for you. It’s not supposed to because that’s not who you are.

3. Take a picture of your ass. Trust me. Twenty years from you’re gonna want to look back on the glory days!


  1. Tracey says:

    1. Relax and enjoy it.
    2. Do not worry about what you are supposed to do, or feel. Explore. You’ll find things you like, you’ll find things you wont like, but most of all – you’ll find things that you didn’t even know existed and drive you crazy (in a good way) :-)
    3. Do a boudoire shoot. You will be amazed at how “hot” you feel and therefore are :-)

  2. deekayelgee says:

    1. I think you are going to do alright. I don’t want to spoil things for you.
    2. Don’t walk home with that guy on your 24th birthday. Hang out with your friend Chad instead.
    3. Things get more interesting later.

  3. Wendy says:

    Stop trying to make heterosexuality happen. You are never going to get used to the funky man smell and it only gets worse when they are laying on you grunting and groaning.

  4. Eric says:

    I’m going to use my virginal-but-opinionated early-twenties self as my ‘younger self’ for this exercise.

    I think one thing I would do is warn him away from ‘nice guy syndrome’ — I don’t think I had a bad case, but even a mild case makes one less fun, less happy and kind of toxic. I think it erodes appreciation for friendships and is rather unbecomingly entitled. I’m glad past-self got over it naturally (and I think it is sadly a pretty common phase among youngish geeky males), but I might encourage him to fight it harder and faster. But really, important as it is, I think it’s not completely about sex.

    I’d let him know that condoms can actually be kind of fun, and that in fact the moderating effect they can have on sensation can be a feature, not a bug. I think then-me was pretty on-board with condoms-as-duty, but to know that condom users aren’t really taking one for the team (in a straight, PIV context, at least, according to that recent study) would’ve been nice for him. That fact aside, I think I would just let him figure out the rest of the nuts and bolts — it was fun, the mystery and fumbling and anticipation were good, I wouldn’t take that from him.

    I’d make sure he knew that as incredible as it might’ve sounded to him then, there were be people out there that would want to have sex with him, not because all the right steps in the strange human mating ritual were followed with ‘t’s crossed and ‘i’s dotted, but because they liked him, and some of them, he would like back, and some subset of them, he would have sex with, all without checklists or ritual (unless they were into that). I’d let him know that he could make his sex life in the aggregate better by being the sort of person he’d like to be (and date), but that people have agency individually and for some awesome people, there is just no path or ritual to sex because they just aren’t interested and that would have to be okay. I would send him links to (or maybe floppies full of entries from) a couple of awesome blogs that didn’t exist back then and hope they resonated. Past me was sweet in some ways, misguided in others, embarrassing at times and fortunately largely harmless, but I think I’ve basically made peace with him.