What women talk about

In the popular sitcom Friends, there is a scene where Ross tells Chandler that women share everything about their sex lives. He goes on to elaborate on how they talk about their partner’s stamina, technique and girth. The word girth triggers a response as a visibly disturbed Chandler manages to sputter, “Why? Why? Why? Why, why? Why? Why would they do that?”

Illustration: Azad Mohan Illustration: Azad Mohan

The answer is simple: Because that is just what women do. They talk and share intimate details about their life with their closest friends. Women discuss the weird stuff, the super cool stuff, the troublesome stuff, basically anything they want their friends to know. Neha Shah, consultant psychiatrist and sex educator says, “Women like to share their relationship issues, be it a relationship with their partner, their in-laws, kids or just anybody. Their sex life is just a part of that discussion. They share their experiences and learn about the experiences of others. It’s like a peer-to-peer learning network for adults.”

She is spot on because all the women who spoke to THE MAN felt that they had something to learn from their friends or something to teach them. Dissecting their sex life with their friends helped them explore their own sexuality and desires. However, this is only a partial explanation for why women crave this kind of intimate sharing. To understand more, you need to know more about what they talk. It’s not always about serious relationship problems as one would imagine. 

’Coz it’s fun! Women like to get together over coffee or drinks and have a good laugh as they talk sex. Bhavini Patel, a freelancer from Baroda says, “I never discuss regular sex. I only discuss the new experiences I’ve had. Like if I have tried a new position or there is something that my partner has done which is different or something that I have done for my partner which he liked. Lots of women want inputs on how to spice up things besides sexy lingerie and other typical stuff.” 

Another thing Bhavini and her girl friends do is compare new boyfriends with exes. Most women I speak to have some kind of rating scale and do this sort of comparison every time they have a new partner. Who was a better kisser? How does the new guy compare on size and technique? Who introduced you to something new? These are very common topics while ranking men who make the cut. The average experiences are not usually part of the list. 

Note: If you weird them out or make them go crazy either way, you are definitely going to be part of the post-coital debriefing. 

’Coz nothing is sacrosanct: While there is no topic which is off limits for Bhavini, she does admit that she never shared anything when she was married because it would have been like betraying a confidence. But, now that she is single, she is comfortable talking about boyfriends. She adds that most guys she dates even know that she shares details about what they did with her friends. “I can see them puff up with pride or male ego or something if they know they are being ooohed and aaahed over,” she says with a giggle.

This kind of free give and take is obviously possible only with select friends who don’t cringe or act prudish when graphic details are thrown in. You can imagine how small that circle might be given the huge taboo around sex.

So not all women are extremely forthcoming when it comes to sharing. Natasha Singh a YouTuber from Mumbai is circumspect and not at all comfortable discussing physical attributes of her partner or any specifics of the act itself. But, there are some exceptions to this rule which she is quick to clarify “I will never share physical details about the guy unless it was too bad or weird.” Given that she finds details a bit of an overkill, what’s in it for her? Natasha reviews her sexual relationships with friends because she wants to know whether something falls within a “normal regular spectrum”.

An interesting term that she has coined herself and this is how she explains it, “What I mean by that is I used to be very naïve and not understand many things before. Now I realise that most acts I used to consider out of the ordinary are actually very normal or common. Like I never knew how certain shades or aspects of BDSM are common. Not hardcore stuff, just some kink. Also, I didn’t think that sex was as casual as it has turned out to be these days. Or, how easy it is for people to access it and get into such a position with somebody and then be over it.” 

’Coz it’s carnal, not sentimental: This revelation puts to rest the theory that all women crave emotional closeness and are not okay with just sex. There are many types of connections or bonds as Natasha discovered. She has an example to explain that, “I realised a No Strings Attached (NSA) relationship is not the same as a One Night Stand (ONS). There are so many types of connections you can have even in an NSA despite the fact that there is no commitment.” She likes to share such intimate details only with certain closest of close friends as it helps her validate her experiences. It is not important for her to be within the normal spectrum as she calls it, but it is important for her to know whether her experiences are unique or something she should be shocked about.

This kind of analysis is common. According to Dr. Shah, “Women feel comfortable talking to other women who they know are in the same phase of life. They are in a similar situation so getting that experience from somebody helps them to resolve issues in their own relationships or to understand that certain issues might be a characteristic of men in general and not specific to their partner.”

But, she cautions against getting biased by other people’s experiences and suggests they apply a stronger filter to decide who to share with or how much to really believe. “Some women might claim that they have an ideal relationship, but you can’t judge your relationship based on that,” she advises.

Something like that did happen to Bhavini who says “Some women like to portray they have a rocking sex life when the opposite is true. One of our married friends who kept bragging about her sex life, broke down after a couple of drinks only to reveal that her sex life was in shambles.” 

’Coz there are degrees of closeness: Deepa Iyer from Bengaluru does not disclose all details to every close friend. She might divulge superficial details to a certain set of friends and go in-depth with others. Her self-censorship is mostly based on the fear of censure or disapproval in some cases, and sometimes because certain intimacies are too precious to share. So, there are secret layers of friendships and every friend is not privy to all the pieces of the story. She picks and chooses what to share and with whom.

As she goes back and forth on one topic with different groups of friends, she slowly comes to terms with it in her head. “Talking to my friends gives me perspective. Like I used to think that a blow job is compulsory for a guy to enjoy sex. Then I came to know my friend, who didn’t enjoy oral sex at all, had a rocking sex life without ever doing that. So it helped me decide what I should do. Now I don’t go down on someone anymore unless I really want to.”

Deepa might not follow her friends’ advice all the time but it does help her put everything in context. “All my friends told me that a certain act is extremely painful. However, when I tried it, not only was it not painful but also very pleasurable. But, I read up on it later and realised why my friends might have said that. That is why I shared my experience with them so they could know how it could be painless if the guy is willing to go the extra mile and make sure the woman is comfortable.”  It’s these little nuggets of knowledge that women treasure and instead of going online to some anonymous forum, they find it right where they are over a phone conversation or cosy chat in their living room. 

Not all men might appreciate their bedroom secrets being aired in a private gathering, especially if there is trouble in that department or some girl friend of their partner makes an awkward comment. Women need to be careful about who to confide in and what to confide, cautions Dr. Shah. According to her, “Women need to have an innermost circle of their inner circle with whom they can share such intimate details to avoid such awkward situations. It is not unfair to the men as long as they don’t find out what is being shared.”

Some men might simply echo Chandler’s indignation when it comes to being a subject of such intense scrutiny because they don’t know that women share. No matter what kind of guy you are, the important thing to realise here is that close friends not only help women gain perspective but also support them through tough times. And if you don’t give them ammo to trash talk you, they are probably collectively crushing on you right now.

Last word: Sharing is terribly under rated; maybe you should try it before you dis it! ?

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