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Her Campus / Addie Abujade
Sex + Relationships

How College Women Talk to Their Friends About Sex

As a college student, some of your best memories are likely made during “girls nights.” Who doesn’t love cracking open a bottle of pink Moscato (Barefoot Target line, you’ve done us a solid) with their best friends and just chatting the night away? Oftentimes, these conversations take a hilarious turn — usually heading straight to everyone’s romantic pursuits and problems.

Whether you’re helping your friend draft the perfect “you up?” text or advising them on an argument with their SO, you probably share a lot with your friends (maybe even too much) — including details of your sex life. Maybe for your parents, that was a conversation that had once been private, but it’s different for our current age group where you can follow sex toy accounts on Instagram and treat masturbation as wellness (which it is!)

That leaves a question: What do college women actually think about how normalized sexual-themed conversations have become? Are they into it, or is it something they still secretly feel weird about? Fourteen college women weigh in on how they feel about sex talk being less taboo, going in deep on how they talk about all things sexy and carnal with their BFFs.

On Talking About Your (Detailed) Sex Life:

“The lack of sex education in this country is astonishing. So often, people have no idea what they’re doing or what they could possibly do. Everyone is afraid to experiment and afraid to tell their partners that they’d like to experiment. Fear is normalized in our society and sex is a taboo conversation. For me, I’ll go out of my way to ask my friend sex questions, and make them slightly uncomfortable because the only way to normalize sex is to get used to the discomfort in the beginning.” – Jericha, Class of 2020

“When I got to college, I was more experienced than many of my friends and I always told them they could come to me and ask any questions or [talk] about any part of the experience. And I have instilled that in my sister and younger cousin. No question or subject is too graphic.” – Talya, Class of 2021

“I think there’s something empowering in reclaiming the right to talk about sex and our experiences without trying to filter ourselves to look more ‘classy.’” – Geneve, Class of 2021

“[Sex] isn’t something I’ve ever considered to be super taboo and I think that every woman has a right to be as sexually active or inactive as she wishes without any judgment. I usually don’t go into any explicit details unless it’s a really good friend though.” – Grace, Class of 2019

On the Difference Between Hookups & Significant Others:

“I don’t think there’s a difference between talking about sex with significant others and hookups. That doesn’t change how much I talk about it with friends. It’s more just like who the friends are and what their past is as well with sex.” – Maria, Class of 2020

“I’ll usually engage in conversation about sex with my girlfriends if that’s what the topic is, but I’m never going into immense detail and I definitely NEVER talk about [my SO]. I wouldn’t want him to talk about stuff I do during sex with his friends, so I give him that same respect when I’m talking with my friends.” – Devon, Class of 2019

On Boundaries:

“I feel like my comfort level when talking about sex honestly depends a lot on the friend I’m talking to. I never really feel comfortable saying anything super graphic beyond ‘we had sex,’ so I guess actual specifics of what happened are ‘off-limits.’” – Abby, Class of 2020

“I’m perfectly fine talking sex even down to the details with close friends.” – Maya, Class of 2020

“No topics are off-limits with me and my friend group — or with anyone for that matter.” – Jericha, Class of 2020

“I think we’re at a time when a lot more girls are becoming open with their sexuality …this isn’t new at all though, it’s exactly why you see in Sex and The City. In my experience, these are still conversations you’re only having with your close girlfriends. So, knowing I’m a Samantha, I try to stay conscious of my friends who are Charlottes.” – Jackie, Class of 2020

“I definitely find myself feeling a little awkward talking to my friends at [college] about [sex], simply because they come from cultural and religious backgrounds that are far more conservative than mine. I still talk to them about it, but I keep things as vague and PG as possible, and give them a heads up whenever I’m going to talk about anything sex-related. I definitely do feel uncomfortable giving graphic details or ‘play by plays’ of my sexual interactions though, just out of respect for the privacy of my partner(s) and our relationship.” -Maria, Class of 2021

On Upbringing:

“Generally, I do not talk about sex with my friends. They would often talk to me about their sex life though, yet I’m uncomfortable with talking about it… I think that my upbringing greatly influenced all of these events because my parents never really talked to me about sex, but when they did it was to tell me how ‘sinful’ and wrong it was, and that I’d regret it if I had sex outside of marriage. This being said, I am slowly trying to break away from these toxic ideas that I was taught and working on being more open about sex.” – Leanna, Class of 2021

“I was raised in a very conservative home, which was not actually a bad thing in many ways, but because of that, it influenced my view of certain topics like sex. I find it difficult to talk about sex with anyone really because I was taught that it was kind of a taboo topic. It’s a weird topic for me because even though I’ve slowly grown more comfortable with talking about sex, it’s still slightly embarrassing for me. I don’t mind listening to other people talk about it or their experiences with it, but I have a difficult time talking about my own experience, and I think that’s influenced by the way I was raised.” – Sarah, Class of 2019

On Masturbation:

“As far as talking about masturbation with friends, I feel like that’s kind of a weird topic. It’s such a personal thing, even more so than sex, so I think that’s something that should be kept more under wraps. While I think it’s great that everyone should explore their own bodies and figure out what works for you, and be able to tell a partner exactly what you like, I totally understand why it’s so taboo. I feel more comfortable talking about that with my boyfriend because in a relationship you’re 100% vulnerable and your partner sees you literally and figuratively naked, so it doesn’t seem as odd.” – Devon, Class of 2019

“I don’t mind talking about masturbation, but only to a select group of friends who I know are comfortable talking about it.” – Maya, Class of 2020

“Masturbation is pretty off-topic between my friends and me, but I’m not really sure why. For girls, it always feels like there’s something more perverse or taboo about admitting to self-pleasure.” – Maria, Class of 2021

On Learning From Each Other:

“There is this level of comfort knowing that my friends may have experienced something I have or may have advice on something related to sex. Honestly, I feel like this is how we learn what to do and what not to do with a SO in and out of the bedroom. The sex-related things I talk about with my friends are the things you don’t learn in sex-ed.” – Julia, Class of 2020

“Sex is natural and healthy, and talking about it with friends has strengthened my relationship with them as well as promoted self-growth. We talk about pretty much everything — from hookups, to past significant others, to sex toys. I would probably say the only thing that I wouldn’t talk about with my friends is a play-by-play of a recent hookup. We talk about certain things our partner would do that we liked, but not really the detailed run-down.” – Eva, Class of 2020

While women have made great strides in being open about their sex lives with their friends, after talking with various college women, it’s clear that there are still some boundaries friendships won’t cross. Though talking about your partners tends to be fair game, many women still feel that self-pleasure is private and would prefer to not talk about it with their friends. Whether you’re down to tell your squad all of your sexual exploits or prefer to maintain your privacy, there are many ways to answer any questions you may have about sex and your sexual health.

Never be ashamed of how much you choose to divulge about your sex life — everyone’s sexual journey is special and unique!

This was published as a part of The Most Real: Sex, Wellness, and Bodies, our answer to your questions (and, let’s be real, our questions) about everything sexual health and wellness. Tampons, strap-ons, first time sex, ingrown bikini hairs, why you poop so much when you’re on your period – we’re getting real. Get real with us. Join the convo using #HCMostReal, and tagging @HerCampus.

Maddie is a senior majoring in journalism and public relations in the College of Communication at Boston University. Hailing from suburban Philadelphia, Maddie is incredibly happy to be back in Boston for her fourth year. This year, she's looking forward to spending all of her money on brunch, downing lots of coffee, and of course, writing and editing at Her Campus. Outside of Her Campus, Maddie is involved with her sorority and exploring all of Boston.
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