We are informed about sex from many different places, starting from when we were very young, and we are still influenced by what we see around us. There can be many influences on our sexuality such as: family; school; religion; peers; siblings and of course, the media. Whether we are aware of it or not, all these messages impact the way we perceive ourselves as sexual beings. With so little concrete sex education, how do we come to terms with our sexuality? More specifically, where do we learn how to be intimate with another person that results in mutual sexual satisfaction and pleasure?

Sexual scripts are the thoughts and feelings that prompt us to view and do sex in a particular way. These scripts influence everything from initiating and having sex to gender roles within sexual encounters, and even our fantasies. Analysing our sexual scripts is one way of getting to know our sexual style, as well as assessing any myths or false beliefs about what sex should look like.

We all have scripts for various aspects of our lives. We have certain ways of engaging in particular relationships, or we have set routines within our behaviour such as showering or going to work etc. The patterns that form how we execute such relationships or behaviours can be known as our “script”.

Scripts are also largely unconscious, which can make it difficult to identify them. Often the script for heterosexual couples goes as follows: 5 minutes of foreplay; 10 minutes of penetration; mutual orgasm. The reality is that sex seldom actually looks like this, resulting in dissatisfaction or judgement regarding sex. Sexual scripts that are unmatched in reality can result in feelings of inadequacy; low self esteem; relationship dissatisfaction and even variations in sexual functioning.

Sometimes your sexual script may not always support your unique sexuality in the healthiest manner. Often those who seek sex therapy are stuck in particular ways of having sex, and struggle to challenge their unconscious sexual scripts. Just being aware of how sexual scripts are formed is one way to reassess your sexual interactions. Understand that even though you may believe sex should happen in a particular way, very often it plays out differently. Learn to accept this, stop judging your sex life and start exploring different ways of having sex. Everyone is as unique sexually as we are physically, and embracing this is changes your sex life.

Sexual scripts influence how you relate to the world and your own sexuality. Being aware of the various influences on your sexuality can help you to uncover any assumptions, myths or false beliefs around sex. Understanding your particular sexual scripts offers you the opportunity to change or modify them in a way that complements your desires.

Reference: Hauck, E. C. (2015). Staying on Script: Sexual Scripts and Sex Education (Doctoral dissertation, PORTLAND STATE UNIVERSITY).