How Do I Actually Talk to My Partner About Sex?

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You know, without being awkward.

So you’ve decided you want to have sex. Excellent! This is a very exciting time, and probably also a bit scary (especially if this is your first time ever or with a new partner). Before you and your partner(s) have sex though, you need to sit down and have a discussion about it. Sure, in the movies people just start kissing and this magically leads to great sex, but in real life, it certainly does not work this way. If you and your partner(s) jump into sex without talking, there will likely be a lot of fumbling around and awkward moments during which neither person knows what the other is doing or should be doing. To avoid this, take the time to sit down and talk face to face with your partner(s) about your expectations, likes and dislikes, so that everyone can have movie-like, magical sex (though it may not be that way all the time, and that’s okay).

1. Find the Right Time

Right in the middle of a heated make out session is not the right time to be having this conversation. Emotions are running high and everyone is most likely to say “yes” to something without really thinking it through. Instead, pick a time when you and your partner(s) are calm, relaxed and open to discussion. This can be right after a night of cuddling and watching a movie together, over a nice lunch or dinner, or during a long car ride. Make sure no one is distracted and can focus only on this conversation, because it’s an important one.

2. Discuss Likes & Dislikes

Whether you’ve had sex or not before, most people can probably come up with a list of things they like or don’t like in bed. Maybe you have heard that kissing with your tongue is gross and you don’t want to try it (yet or ever). Not a problem, just let your partner(s) know. Do you think you’ll like it when your partner(s) touch your butt? Let them know! If you’re not sure what you want or don’t want I suggest the following activity: have you and your partner(s) make a list of every sex act you know of, regardless of if you or them ever want to try it. Make a copy of this list and add three columns: Yes, No and Maybe. You and your partner(s) then go through the list on your own and put a check mark next to each act under the column you feel pertains to you in that moment. (Yes, I want to try anal sex, but I only maybe want to play with a vibrator). After the lists are filled out, swap with your partner(s) to see what they checked off and from there have a discussion about it. This allows you to open up to your partner, while also checking out their own feelings toward certain sexual acts.

3. Do Not Be Judgmental

If you hear your partner(s) wants to try some crazy new sex act and your first reaction is to say “gross” or “no way,” take a second to make sure that by saying no to your partner you are not judging them in a negative way. It can be very hurtful when someone you love and trust finds something sexual you want to do abnormal or disgusting. Instead, approach your partner in a way that is calm and understanding. You can say, “While that may be something you’re interested in, right now I’m just not comfortable trying that. Ask me again in a few months and we can revisit it.” This way, you are not dismissing your partner(s)’s wants, but instead letting them know right now you aren’t ready to try that yet (and that’s okay).

4. Be Honest

This is the most important thing you can be when talking with your partner(s) about sex. Honesty is the only way everyone is going to get what they want and have fun and pleasurable sex. It can be difficult to open up to someone about your sexual desires, but the only way to get what you want is by asking. You may be nervous or afraid that your partner(s) may reject you when you suggest a certain sexual activity, but perhaps your partner(s) wants the same thing, but they have also been too afraid to tell you. Opening up about sex is not always easy, but if you’re honest, this will build more trust and strength within your relationship.

5. Don’t Forget Protection!

When discussing sex with your partner(s) you need to also talk about what type of birth control you’ll want to use as well. Remember, IUDs and The Implant are the most effective forms of birth control, but you can still contract STIs with them. Therefore, you and your partner(s) should always use condoms. If you want to have enjoyable, stress free sex, using protection is the way to do it.

Talking about what you want sexually with someone is not always easy, but it is important if you want to have a positive, healthy sex life. It might be difficult to start this conversation, but once you do, it will become more natural over time. Discussing sex with your partner builds trust and can be quite intimate. It’s a way to get to know each other and figure out how to best please each other. Sex can be very important in a relationship, and by talking about it, you are showing your partner(s) they are important to you as well.

Header image edited by Marcy Gooberman

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