I got my rule on how much to say, or rather, not, about my sex life from, of all people, Wendy Williams. I was a 22-year-old intern at Russell Simmons’ Oneworld and Wendy had just returned to New York radio for a second stint. I’d been sent to her studio to talk sex and other personal topics with the woman who was again putting everyone’s business in the streets weekday afternoons.
Wendy was gracious with her answers to my invasive questions, except for one thing. The line upon which there would be no habitual stepping was anything that pertained to sex with her husband. I don’t recall my question, but her answer was something like, “Whether he’s hung like a pimple or hung like a horse, I don’t discuss that with anyone.”
That made sense, and so I’ve spent the decade since sitting quietly as people around me spill their sexy time tea. When I asked around, I found some women shared my — and Wendy’s — outlook when it comes to talking about “private acts,” which is: Even when they want to, they don’t.
Of course, that only applies when it’s someone they care about. If it’s sex with a fling or a one-nighter? That biz is all in the streets. “I used to ask for penis pictures and share them with my friends,” one lady recalls. “After having sex with a new man for the first time, I would tell my friends every detail of the affair the next morning at brunch.”
Another friend added another exception: “I was abstinent for close to three years,” she recalls. “When I ended that, my ‘wife’ [her best friend of 10 years] got all the details.”
When it came to relationships, most women I spoke with kept their business close out of respect for their partner or to avoid the varying opinions of friends who could cloud their judgment about the relationship. “Everything isn’t for everyone,” one friend explains succinctly.
My married homie says the only thing she can recall saying about her husband of seven years is, “He’s the best I ever had.” She adds, “Other than that I have no desire to share.”
Another friend warned of sharing because “it can lead to vagina envy.” She didn’t want to inspire jealously and seemed a bit afraid that if she shared how good her partner was, another woman might start sniffing around for a sample of the goods.
But then there were the friends who spilled, some more freely than others, whether they were committed or not. “Everyone needs that one person who they can share things with, even that ‘very private time’ you spend with your mate,” says one woman. “Even if it’s just to check yourself.”
Another friend says she had a “You spill-I spill” policy, which means she only tells all (or most) to friends who do the same.
And yet another had a reason for spilling that I never considered: “I have trust issues with women, and I admit in my efforts to trust more and feel a connection, I do blurt TMI sometimes,” she confesses.
It was during an over-sharing conversation that I began to rethink my keep-it-to-yourself rule. I was talking to my “Samanatha”-esque friend, who is actually in a relationship but still shares all the details of her sex life with me. I was dying to tell someone about what happened the time I … and then he … and then we … oooh-weee! And I figured nothing I said would really blow her mind. Plus, it would be good for her to understand how awkward it’s been to hang out with her boyfriend, like my brother at this point, knowing the noises or outlandish dirty talk he does in bed (or wherever else their activity takes place).
“Like Sam, But Not” was whispering to me about what happened the night before because her man and my man were walking in front of us. She said, in great detail, how she did this one wild thing, and I think, “oh, hell no! This chick is on some next ish now!” even though I keep a straight face. Then she follows that up with something else that I’m not sure I heard right because of the whispering.
So I asked, “ Oh, you [insert imaginative thing here]?” And she screwed up her face and said, “Oh, God. Ugh! Who does that?!” because apparently even my freakiest friend has boundaries and limitations. She laughed and the boys turned around to look at us.
I think, “Oh, $h!t” because that thing that my wild friend thinks is appalling, that thing that I asked her about? That’s the thing I do. Well. I was embarrassed, but I had no plans to stop doing it. I did, however, decide not to start talking about it.
Demetria L. Lucas is the author of A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life. ABIB is available to download and now in paperback. Follow her on Twitter at @abelleinbk.