Surprising Places to Talk About Sex


Surprising Places to Talk About Sex

by Anna Sorensen and Erika Hagen
May 18, 2022
A family of four sits around their coffee table and plays a card game with oversized cards.

We know that it may seem daunting to bring up sex with the young people in your life. You may be holding off sitting down for ‘the talk’ because you’re not sure what to say, and that can be scary! But talking about sex doesn’t have to be a big, serious event; in fact, there’s no perfect way to bring it up or exact right thing to say! In our experience, talking about sex should be ongoing, rather than one isolated conversation. These chats can be fun, supportive, and you may even find yourselves laughing and learning together. Here are 10 places you could start a conversation about sex with the young people in your life. 

  • Road Trip – Different songs or billboards can spark all types of conversations. Talking about sex in the car can feel less intimidating than a face-to-face conversation. Plus, sometimes, conversations can be short and sweet like the time it takes to get to the mall.
  • Family Dinner – Asking, “how was your day” gets old, why not compare your different sex ed experiences? You might be surprised at how much has changed (or is still the same)!
  • Weekend Brunch – Eggs, bacon, OJ, and relationship talks is the perfect brunch combo. Talking about the way relationships and dating has changed over the years can be an easy conversation between bites. 
  • Movie Night – Young people understand more than we give them credit for, instead of telling them to “look away” at inappropriate scenes, allow them to make the decision for themselves and ask if they have questions or concerns about it after the movie. 
  • Podcasts – Sometimes listening to a podcast or radio show together can help lead into conversations about sex if it feels hard to bring up right out of the gate! After listening, you can chat about what you liked, agreed, or disagreed with, or something new you learned. 
  • Games – A game of fishbowl once led Anna’s family into a fascinating discussion on how slang has changed over the years, and the different euphemisms we use when talking about sex! 
  • Walks/Bike Rides – Fresh air and a fresh mind can help make a conversation feel natural and take away the anxiety that comes with the sit down “talk.” 
  • Getting Ice Cream – After picking out what toppings you want on your ice cream, talk about what you want you want and need in a relationship. 
  • Running Errands – Sometimes the most low-stakes outings have led to the deepest discussions with my mom; it may seem random, but even in a short trip to fill up the car with gas, you could ask about something you just couldn’t find the right moment for before. Instead of one big ‘talk,’ take the pressure off, and have shorter, continuous conversations over time if that feels better!
  • Shopping/Bra Fitting – When a young person's bodies start to change, they might have to buy new clothes or things from a pharmacy, and rather than being a silent, scary experience, this can be a great chance to talk to them about what’s happening, and to ask if they have any questions.

If you’re a young person starting a conversation with a champion in your life might seem awkward or intimidating. Sometimes starting these conversations with friends can help take some of the stress away. Here are 7 places you could start conversations about sex with your friends.

  • Cafeteria – This might not be the ‘norm,’ but in high school Erika and her friends would often sit in a group and talk about what they learned in our sex ed class, asking questions, and opening up in ways they didn’t always feel comfortable doing in class! Those were the conversations that inspired me to work in this field one day.  
  • Sleepover – Anna still remembers a sleepover from middle school when she tried to ask her friends about masturbation, and she said menstruation instead! She didn’t know what either word meant and didn’t know how to ask; her friends made her feel safe and told her they had the same questions as she did. 
  • Movie Night – Movies show the good, the bad, and the ugly sides of relationships. After watching, sometimes talking about the different relationships and how you would feel in their shoes can help you understand what you are looking for in your own relationships. Also, sometimes sex scenes are less awkward to watch with friends than family, if you have questions that your friends cannot answer, see if there is a champion in your life you can ask later. 
  • Book Groups – Hot and steamy is not something new to the book world, reading a book with the young people in your life could help spark conversations on relationships, boundaries, and bodily autonomy. Rather than censoring what young people want to read, ask them why they are interested in reading it.
  • Sports Practice – Trust is a huge part of what makes a team great. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or advice because chances are your teammates have wondered the same things! 
  • Bus Rides – Rather than a boring trip from point A to point B, why not turn a bus ride into a time to chat about sex in an informal environment?
  • Study Hall – Let's face it, there isn’t much studying that goes on here. Instead of gossiping, use this time to connect with others and learn about what is important to them in romantic relationships and friendships. 

We hope that this list provides some ideas and jumping-off points to start important conversations about sex whether you’re a teen or a champion. 

Anna Sorensen got her B.A. in Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies and Spanish from The George Washington University. As a Digital Programs Fellow, she gets to use her passion for reproductive justice and health equity to help patients throughout the U.S. find contraceptive care.

Erika Hagen got her B.S in Social Work from The University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh. As a Digital Programs Fellow for AbortionFinder, she gets to use her passion for reproductive justice and health equity to help patients throughout the U.S. find access to abortion and contraceptive care.