What I learned about sex during family night…


Sunday night is ‘Family Night’ at my house. It’s a night which Steph and I set aside to spend time with friends and our family. We have a zero-work policy, which is a big deal for two entrepreneurs who love what we do and can easily work 7-days a week.

Last night, our fake kid, Danielle, (if you don’t know who she is, read this) brings a friend over who winds up staying for dinner. His name is Evan, and this is where the sex story begins.

I should back up and say that Danielle and Evan work together as personal trainers in an NYC health club. Which is part of what makes this so interesting.

Evan’s telling us how he became a personal trainer. His story, like most that hold our attention, isn’t one in which he’d always had a singular professional ambition. He started out studying psychology.

Before he was a trainer, he worked as a human behavior researcher.

One of his studies was about sex.  Safe sex. Specifically, the circumstances under which humans make the decision to have safe sex.

At this point in his story, I’ve put my wine down and I am perched in my seat, riveted. There are few things that intrigue me the way decision-making does – especially within the context of relationships.

Evan says, “We were studying how a person’s mood influences whether or not they’re going to have safe sex.”

Which prompts us to go around the room, taking turns guessing whether being in a good mood or a bad mood makes a person more likely to engage in safe sex.

For the record, my guess is wrong, and Steph’s is right.

It turns out that being in a bad mood increases the odds that you’ll have safe sex. And once I start thinking about it, it makes perfect sense.

Because this principle informs how we make all decisions in relationships.

Humans, by and large, avoid conflict. We chase pleasure. We avoid pain.

When you’re about to have sex, if you’re in a good mood, you’re disinclined to disrupt that good feeling, which is what people tend to think tossing a condom in the mix will do.

It’s the same reason why we don’t tell each other when our feelings are hurt, particularly if the hurt isn’t enormous. We don’t want to rock the boat.

Instead, what we do is wait for micro-hurts to pile up. We let half a dozen little opportunities soundlessly slide by until the pain of staying quiet is greater than our avoidance of the imagined confrontation that’ll result from expressing ourselves.

That’s when we speak up.

Which is why it makes perfect sense that people in a bad mood are more inclined to demand safe sex. They already have the fuel of negativity needed to advocate for themselves.

I look back at my own personal relationships and I can identify with this dilemma.

We’re supposed to let shit roll off our back.
Pick your battles, they say.
I say.

What’s the tipping point between letting things roll off your back and hoarding micro-hurts which may come out sideways in the future?

I want to hear from you – and so I’m opening comments to this blog.

Tell me: Where do we draw the line between trying to be thick-skinned today vs. stockpiling a list of hurts to express in the future?