Talking about sex before you have it increases the odds that you will enjoy the relationship, and the sex, to the fullest.
If you don’t have this conversation, you could get yourself into a situation where you and your partner are butting heads or hurting each other because you had different expectations about the relationship, casual or committed, going into it.
Ideally, you should have this talk before you have intercourse for the first time, but the conversation doesn’t have an expiration date.
Some people don’t talk before they have sex because it can be awkward, and you have to be extremely honest with yourself and your partner. What you do with the information you find out during the conversation is up to you and your partner.
Starting the conversation and being completely honest are the hardest parts about discussing sex, but they are crucial to healthy sex.
According to Dr. Debby Herbenick, who writes on the Kinsey Institute’s website, the Kinsey Confidential, many people don’t have experience talking about sexuality issues honestly and in a positive way.
“Often the way we’ve been raised to talk about sex centers around jokes, judgments or stereotypes and it can be uncomfortable for many people to communicate their very personal ideas and feelings around sexuality, relationships and love,” she wrote.
Sex has a handful of risks associated with it, such as unplanned pregnancy, STIs and emotional stress, so in order to minimize those risks you should talk about how you want your relationship to function and where your boundaries are.
First on the list is contraception. Talk about what method you want to use, how it will be paid for and each partner’s role in making sure the birth control is used correctly.
Talk about what each partner would want to do if your birth control method isn’t effective and there is an unplanned pregnancy. Discuss all the options. It may be awkward in the moment, but it would be more awkward later if you are potentially having a child with someone whose views surrounding adoption and abortion differ from your own.
Talk about your sexual history, including how many partners you’ve had, if you have STIs and when you were last tested for STIs.
Talk about your expectations for the relationship. Discuss whether you’re looking for a monogamous arrangement with your partner or if you prefer to keep seeing other people.
Questions such as “Have you cheated on a partner in the past? What do you consider cheating?” are important, too. Some people think cheating is a kiss on the lips, while others only consider intercourse to be cheating.
If you are the type of person who struggles with, or doesn’t agree with, monogamy, (and many people don’t) save you and your partner the future heartbreak and be honest about it in the beginning.
Your partner should appreciate the honesty and won’t be investing time and energy into the relationship under false pretenses.
Also talk about what you will and won’t consider doing sexually.
Are you comfortable with the idea of a threesome? What about anal sex? Tell your partner if you have something you want to try. That conversation will increase the likelihood of having mind-blowing sex.
After you and your partner have the initial discussion, try to maintain open lines of communication with respect to sex, and if you don’t like something, make sure to say so.
If at all possible, have this conversation in a setting where sex isn’t on the menu. Take a walk with your partner or sit down at a coffee shop and have the talk.
It’s also important to try to make the conversation as lighthearted as possible. Aside from a little nervousness, you shouldn’t feel shame, guilt, anger or jealousy when you talk about these issues. The best-case scenario is that you both are able to enjoy learning more about someone with whom you may be about to engage in some risky behavior.
Herbenick suggests that if you acknowledge and make light of the fact that you both feel awkward, some of that awkwardness will melt away.
“Even if you think you know how your partner feels about something, a sex talk can be a good way to clarify each of your feelings,” she wrote in the blog. “You might try to keep the conversation fairly open-ended and fluid.”
While the conversation may seem daunting if you haven’t had it yet, it can also be a turn-on to know what gets your partner aroused and how he or she likes to have sex. The best foreplay can be a conversation that orients everyone involved as to how the relationship will work.
Hunter is a senior psychology major at UNM. She has a special interest in sex psychology and research. You can send questions and comments to email@example.com