If you can’t help but tell your BFFs the sordid details of your sex life, be it with your long-term boyfriend or that hot guy you met at the bar last night and decided to go home with, you’re not alone. Sharing your sexual experiences with your girlfriends is a normal and healthy thing—and now science has proof of it.
According to research published in the International Journal of Sexual Health, women who spill the beans on what they get up to in the bedroom tend to have higher levels of self-esteem and self-efficacy, AKA the belief that they can succeed in certain tasks or situations (in this case, sexual situations).
Study author Katrina L. Pariera of George Washington University said she was interested in conducting the research because we’re always told we should be more open when it comes to talking about sex but there hasn’t been much scientific evidence to back up whether or not that’s a good thing.
“Moreover, much of the sex-positive language we use is actually geared at encouraging women to be more sexual. So I wanted to explore how talking with friends about sex might be associated with various sexual attitudes and behaviors, to see if it’s all positive or if there are some potential negatives too,” she explained.
What she discovered was interesting. Of the 617 American women surveyed revealed, those who chatted with friends about the details of their sex lives felt much more self-assured and empowered to either change something about their sex lives or even be more proactive, such as by asking a partner if they’d been tested for STDs.
However, the results weren’t all positive. As Pariera discovered, communicating about sex did end up warping some respondents’ views of risky sexual behaviors. “Sometimes when we talk a lot about sex we educate each other, help problem-solve, etc., but we might also increase pressure and skew norms about sex. So it’s not just that we need to communicate more, it’s that we also need to communicate better,” she revealed.
While this is a correlational study, meaning that the findings do have some limitations, it is helpful to know that dishing about our sex lives can help us feel more empowered when it comes to our sexual pleasure—it just needs to have the same effect on our ability to be safe!