I used to do it all, sexually speaking. In college, I used to say that my sex was all whips, chains, and Catholic school girl uniforms, and it was so good that the RA had to have a cigarette afterwards (if he wasn’t involved, which sometimes he was).
I have had sex with more than one person at the same time. I have had sex with people I have not been supposed to have sex with. And I once had my wrists duct-taped so tightly I couldn’t get the marks off for days. Luckily the tape marks came off my face with some soap and water.
Then, after a few years of dating, I married my husband. He wouldn’t describe himself like this, of course, but if he were ice cream, he’d be vanilla.
Before dating me, my husband had one steady girlfriend through college, and they were a vanilla sex kind of couple. In normal positions. Needless to say, they did not break out the kama sutra when they got bored, like one of my exes and I did.
Other than the occasional sex toy, my husband was an average dude with average appetites satisfied in average positions. He had no interest in tying me up, engaging in elaborate role-play, or repurposing duct tape as a sex toy. He just wanted to have sex. Vanilla sex.
This took some serious getting used to at first. I kept trying to persuade him to push some boundaries. He did, at first. But it’s no fun when you know you’re the only one enjoying it. And I loved him madly, totally, and completely. So we settled into something I had never been into: normal, missionary position sex. Coupled with a lot of love. Coupled with a lot of trust and openness — because let’s be honest here, all that wild sex was, in my case, compensation for some deep-seated emotional needs.
With my husband, I never had to pretend to be brave. I never had to pretend to want to do more than I did, or feel pressured to act more into something than I was. This. Was. Normal.
And I found, after a while, that I didn’t miss the wild sexual escapades of my past.
So his vanilla tastes? They’ve become mine. I like it flat on my back, arms around him. And while we change our positions up from time to time, it’s mostly missionary. We do not use toys, other than the vibrator that makes an appearance occasionally.
Yeah, sometimes I think all that wild and kinky stuff would be fun again. Then I remember the closeness I have with my husband. The gentleness when I want it, the roughness when I don’t. The talk that fills the need for whatever naughtiness I crave. I prefer this. I can be my whole self here: sex is a connection between us, not a performance, not a race to see who gets off first, the way it was in college. Not that it’s like that for everyone who does more than the vanilla stuff we do. But it was like that for me.
And here’s the important part, the part it took me a long time to understand: there’s nothing wrong with having and liking vanilla sex. Sex is unique to each person and each couple. What you want and need is what you want and need, be it the whips and chains or a missionary position bang after the kids have gone to bed. Sex is unique to you and that should be celebrated, not shamed, no matter what your preference — wild or vanilla.
Vanilla sex also doesn’t mean you lose interest; we do it at least three times a week, possibly more. It’s not an event. It’s just part of the fabric of our lives: watch the latest episode of The Crown, do the deed. It doesn’t mean that we don’t take care. I shave down there — regularly. I’m pretty sure he trims enough to keep his short and curlies both short and curly. I own and wear lingerie that he likes. Effort is made.
My college friends would keel over in shock to know that the girl who once planned “naked parties” and joyously dragged terrified freshman to their first sex shop is now satisfied getting it on her back every night. But fuck it, that’s what we want. It’s what we like. And nobody can argue with that. No one has the right to shame me for it. I grew up. And if you ask me for a flavor now, I’ll take vanilla every time.
This article was originally published on