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Communicating about sex. Words, games, and attitudes. Purposes of sexual communication. Why talk about sex? Society Church Same-sex friends Opposite-sex friends Potential sexual partners Mates. How connected are sex, love, and intimacy?. Janus & Janus (1993):

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Communicating about sex

Communicating about sex

Words, games, and attitudes


Purposes of sexual communication
Purposes of sexual communication

  • Why talk about sex?

  • Society

  • Church

  • Same-sex friends

  • Opposite-sex friends

  • Potential sexual partners

  • Mates


How connected are sex love and intimacy
How connected are sex, love, and intimacy?

  • Janus & Janus (1993):

    • 69% of men and 75% of women saw sex and intimacy as separate parts of a relationship.

  • NHSLS (1994):

    • Twice as many, to four times as many women as men say they loved their first sexual partner

  • Sex can confuse a relationship


Why is sexual communication challenging
Why is sexual communication challenging?

  • Lack of practice

  • Sub-cultural proscription

  • Personal discomfort

  • Ambiguity of all communication

    • Sender-->Sender’s Interpretative System--> Message-->Receiver’s Interpretative System--> Receiver

  • Choice and meaning of words


Sex words
Sex words

  • Slang terms are popular among men talking with other men and, to a lesser degree, among men talking with women partners

  • Women seem to prefer appropriate words or no terms at all

  • Women are often offended by men’s choice of words, especially about sexual intercourse or women’s anatomy


More sex words
More sex words

  • From the late 70s to the late 80s, college students shifted towards preferring no words for sexual anatomy.

  • The phrase sexual intercourse has almost disappeared from college students’ expressive vocabulary

  • Women prefer diminutive euphemisms and vague references


What does intimacy mean
What does intimacy mean?

  • Is it love, or just lust?

  • Does passion ignore love?

  • Are love and sex functionally related?

  • Evaluate this old saying:

    • “Men give love to get sex; women give sex to get love.”


Cross gender friendship
Cross-gender friendship

  • A relative absence of scripts

  • Influence of sexual roles, eg. dominance and submission

  • Ambiguity of messages

    • Time spent together, smiles and eye contact, and personal attention may be misunderstood to convey sexual interest

    • Social structures, such as social networks or work tasks, may provide welcome boundaries


Breaking up is hard to do
Breaking up is hard to do

  • Exclusivity, jealousy, and possessiveness vs. self-awareness and self-acceptance

  • The meaning of rejection

  • Getting to know someone sometimes means learning you don’t want to go further

  • Most breakup scripts are miserably weak

  • Tact and honesty are valuable

  • Clarity is crucial


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