Do you talk about sex with your partner? If you do, great! Keep it up. Having these conversations is important to build a healthy relationship. If you need help to get started or don’t know how to approach certain topics, keep reading.
Talking about your sexual expectations, desires, and needs with your partner should be part of regular communication, even if it can be awkward to bring up. The more you talk about it, the more comfortable you will be.
Tip #1: Have this conversation outside the bedroom to lower any expectations and take some of the pressure off.
Tips #2: Start with positive points. This can be especially helpful if you’re nervous. You can bring up an example and make a point to compliment your partner. For example, “I really liked it when you did ____. Can we do that again sometime?”
Tip #3: Avoid negativity but communicate your dislikes. The goal is to improve both your sex lives in the future.
You can cover a variety of topics with your partner, like fantasies, sexual health, how frequently you want to have sex, how to deal with differences, and what you two most enjoy. This way, you can both learn about each other and better your relationship!
Scenario 1: Trying something new
Tim and Sam are watching a movie. Suddenly, a steamy sex scene comes on. Sam is interested in trying what he sees and wonders if Tim is too. A good way to approach it would be to pause the movie and get Tim’s full attention.
Sam could say:
“I have always wanted to try that. Would you feel comfortable trying it together?”
The hardest part is over! Sam communicated his want; now, it’s up to Tim. If Tim continues the conversation, they can both let each other know what they are comfortable or uncomfortable with. If Tim is nervous about what Sam wants to try, they could make sure to start slow. If he’s not into it, then they can try something different, or veto it completely. Both are valid. The important thing is you’ve talked about it, and you know each other a little better.
Scenario 2: Communicating when you are uncomfortable
Sarah asked Alex if they could try out this new sex position. However, Alex does not feel comfortable with it. How could he address the topic?
Alex could say:
“I am not sure if I am comfortable with that. Can we try something else instead?”
It’s possible that your partner and you are not 100% sexually compatible. That’s okay! It’s important to figure that out and work with what compatibilities you do have. If you are both dedicated to trying new things, you could start a yes-no-maybe list and go from there. Share your compatibilities with your partner and have fun!
Scenario 3: Sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections (STBBIs)
Carla and Diana met on a dating app a few weeks ago. They have been talking for a couple of weeks now and before taking things to the next level, Carla wants to know if Diana has been tested for STBBIs. However, she isn't sure how to address the topic.
Carla could say:
“Before we take things any further, I want to make sure that we are both being responsible. I decided to go get tested for STBBIs, when was your last test?”
Asking someone to be tested may feel invasive, but not having the conversation can be much worse. Start with yourself and see how your partner reacts. An awkward moment is worth not contracting an STBBI down the line. If your partner is nervous or hesitant, offer to come with them to their test. Supporting them will help.
Our final tips
Sex means different things to different people. Conversations should be about openness and curiosity, never judgement. Saying something like “That’s disgusting” can shutter conversations about sex. Your partner will be less likely to communicate about their pleasure in the future, and that will affect you both negatively.
Either way, healthy and positive sex communication will improve your relationship, so try it!
P.S. If you are on campus and need free condoms, there are some at the Wellness Lounge (Jock Turcot University Centre, room 203)!
GetaKit.ca – free HIV self-test kit delivered to your Ottawa/Gatineau address
Sexual Health Clinic – 179 Clarence St. – Free HIV PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis), STI testing, contraceptives
Somerset West Community Health Centre - Anonymous HIV Testing by appointment