Tag Archives: #awkward

Why It’s OK to Laugh During Sex? (Psychology)

You queefed. They must be disgusted. You lack an immediate erection or orgasm too quickly. They must think I’m less of a man. The attempt at a new position ends in epic failure or you hit the wrong opening. They must think I don’t know what I’m doing. You are either too dry or too wet. They must think there’s something physically wrong with me. Maybe your partner wants to have sex, you want to have sex, but you worry what they will think of your body. Will they still want to have sex with me when they see me naked?


These are the thoughts that derail sexual intimacy, reinforce negative body perceptions, close communication, and create a gap in interpersonal relationships. The easiest solution to preventing prolonged embarrassment and getting on track with open sexual communication? Humor.

Making a quick joke, even if it’s self-effacing, is the perfect way to right the ship. Laughter is already attributed to several mental and physical benefits, including relaxation of the body, boosting of the immune system, relief of stress, release of endorphins, an increase of oxygen to the brain, and improvement in mood. In addition to mental and physical benefits, laughter provides social benefits, such as those found within sexual encounters, especially in cases when things become awkward.

Erving Goffman noted the potential for embarrassment during any interactional process wherein “the individual is expected to possess certain attributes, capacities, and information which, taken together, fit together into a self that is at once coherently unified and appropriate for the occasion” (1967:105). One face-saving technique is the use of humor. Goffman views it as one of several exercises to break the ice, thereby “explicitly referring to his failing in a way that shows he is detached, able to take his condition in stride” (1963:116).

Spencer Cahill (1985) took this idea to the bathroom, literally, when he studied interactional processes in public restrooms. In the category of odor, Cahill pointed out how the use of humor diffused potentially embarrassing situations in which an individual caused a noxious odor to permeate a crowded bathroom. In making a joke of the situation, the individual not only shed himself of embarrassment or public scorn, but also reminded others that they were also capable of such human frailty and shaming was not necessary. When a comedian is self-effacing on stage, the reaction of laughter they receive is not aimed as much at the comedian, but the recognition of the commonality shared for all who have felt or acted in the given situation.

While there are several techniques to curb embarrassment, and Goffman suggests several, one must be cognizant of potential consequences. Ignoring an occurrence, such as when your partner does something awkward during sex, can act to conceal the issue. No conversation begins and your partner may be in a holding pattern wondering whether or not you noticed and, if you did, what your silence meant, thereby not resolving the issue and setting your partner up to internalize it. Even mere passing recognition of the event can seal the embarrassment. In mentioning it and moving on, your partner may perceive your reaction as a judgment.

Humor, by contrast, acts to alleviate the tension, dispel embarrassment, and add to the playfulness of the sexual encounter. Humor, however, does not include teasing or laughing at your partner in a bullying manner. Humor of this sort will certainly embed embarrassment and shame. Being able to laugh together enhances intimacy and opens up an opportunity to talk about your insecurities within an already established welcoming environment, all of which acts to intensify pleasure.

Sex should be fun and playful, but such intimacy does risk exposure to embarrassment and awkward moments. What humor succeeds in doing is to maintain the playful environment while opening up the conversation. Yes, women queef, here’s what it means. Yes, sometimes men orgasm too quickly, let’s talk about it without shame. Nothing is more important for a healthy sex life than communication. If you have to share in a laugh to get there—laugh. And it’s perfectly acceptable to laugh together about it all.

This article is originally written by David W. Wahl, Ph.D., who is a social psychologist and sex researcher. His work focuses on issues related to sexual desire and behavior, shaming and stigmatization, sex and gender, sexual violence, sex work, and human trafficking.

References: (1) Cahill, Spencer E. 1985. “Meanwhile Backstage: Public Bathrooms and the Interaction Order” in Urban Life, 14(1): 33-58. (2) Goffman, Erving. 1963. Stigma. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster. (3) Goffman, Erving. 1967. Interaction Ritual. New York, NY: Pantheon Books.

This article is republished here from psychology today under common creative licenses.

This 3-Second Trick Will Keep You From Saying Something You’ll Later Regret (Psychology)

Remember that time you reacted explosively to your coworker’s incessant whistling while you were trying to work? And how awkward it was the day after you accidentally lost your cool on him? It doesn’t have to be that way. There are three easy questions you can ask yourself in your head to avoid saying or doing something you’re bound to regret later.

Everyone gets irritated from time to time — you can’t help that. The way you respond to that irritation is something you can have complete control over. An article from Inc. points to a perhaps unlikely source for a tip in managing your emotions before you accidentally go off on someone: comedian Craig Ferguson. During a stand-up special in 2011 (there is some explicit language in the linked YouTube video), Ferguson offered his communication advice as part of a larger bit. But the advice he offers holds legitimate weight as practical advice.

According to Ferguson, there are three quick questions you should ask yourself in your head before you accidentally say something you’ll later end up regretting:

• Does this need to be said?
• Does this need to be said by me?
• Does this need to be said by me, now?

These three questions are basically an exercise of self-reflection, which is careful thought about your own behavior and beliefs. It’s a practice that has shown to be beneficial in psychology research. In a 2014 study, employees who spent 15 minutes at the end of the day reflecting on lessons learned performed 23 percent better after 10 days than those who didn’t self-reflect. A Harvard study that looked at commuters found similar positive results: Those who were told to use their commute to think about and plan for their day were happier, more productive, and less burned out than those who didn’t self-reflect on their way to work.

Ferguson’s three questions may not necessarily be your three questions, and self-reflection is the key to identifying which questions can calm you down in the heat of the moment. If getting too heated isn’t your issue in reactionary speaking, self-reflection can help you get to know your habits and tendencies. Once you build up this self-awareness, you can come up with custom questions you can ask yourself to balance your emotions.