Talking About Sex

Talking About Sex

Sarah Riccio

If the mere title of this article made you blush, you're not alone! Talking about sex can be awkward, especially with a new partner. We've all heard that communication is key when it comes to healthy intimacy, but that doesn't mean it's easy. How can you make the convo more comfortable for everyone? 

Keep reading for tips about discussing sex with your partner, as well as ideas for building greater intimacy in your relationship. 

How To Talk About Sex 

The topic of sex can feel like a minefield of emotions and potential hurt feelings. By its nature, sex is deeply personal and reveals a lot about who we are. But it is possible to have a frank, no-kinks-barred talk with your partner and be sensitive to each other's feelings. Here are some ways to make the conversation more relaxed and productive:  

  • Agree to be honest. Sex talks are a time for vulnerability and speaking your truth. That means giving voice to thoughts and ideas you probably don't share with many people. Tempting as it may be to filter yourself when you discuss sex with your partner, don't hold back. You'll be glad you were open and honest when it comes time to get down. 
  • Ask questions. Some of us assume we know what our partners like, or we're too shy to ask. In both cases, sexual satisfaction is the loser! Don't be afraid to ask your partner what they enjoy or want to explore. And no matter how they respond, try not to take their preferences personally. Think of your questions as a fact-finding mission that will lead you to greater intimacy and acceptance. 
  • Say what you want. Be sure to advocate for yourself when you talk about sex and intimacy. If you aren't getting what you need or would like to experiment with something new, tell your partner. Remember: none of us is a mind reader! It's important to speak up and be clear about what you want. 
  • Don't judge. Sex can be a delicate subject, which is why it's important to make the conversation a judgment-free zone. When discussing sex, be careful not to criticize your partner's needs or preferences. Instead, focus on the positive aspects of your partner's sexuality, and ask questions when you feel unsure about something. This can help you both feel comfortable enough to share your thoughts and desires. 

How To Start an Intimate Conversation about Sex

So you're ready to plunge into the conversation with your partner, but you're wondering what to talk about first. Here are some revealing topics to kick things off:

  • Your desires. When talking about sex, your personal desires are a great place to start. Tell your partner where you like to be touched, what feels good to you, and what you'd like to explore. This can have the added benefit of making your partner feel more comfortable when it's their turn to talk. The more forthright you are about your sexual pleasure, the more likely they are to follow your lead. 
  • Their desires. Feeling shy about broaching the conversation? Start by asking your partner about their sexual desires. Try keeping the convo physical at first. You can ask questions like, "Where do you like to be kissed the most?" Or, "Do you like when I rub you gently, or do you prefer more pressure?" Once the conversation gets rolling, you can dive into more specific topics like fantasies and boundaries. 
  • Shared fantasies. Once you've discussed your individual desires, try taking it a step further with shared fantasy ideas. Maybe you're both interested in trying role play, exploring different sex positions, or learning about kink and BDSM. Let your partner know they can trust you and be open without fear of shame or judgment. 
  • Boundaries. Before you jump into fantasies or sex of any kind, don't forget to talk boundaries. Even if you're not going to engage in unusual play, setting boundaries and, when appropriate, safe words, is a great way to establish consent, likes, and dislikes ahead of time. 
  • Safety. If you're having a sex talk with a new partner, don't be shy to bring up STI screening, condom use, and safety. You can ask questions like, "When was your last STI screening?" or "What's your history of STI infection?" Keep in mind that your partner might not feel comfortable discussing their medical or health history, especially if you don't know each other well. How you choose to proceed is up to you, but having the conversation can go a long way toward keeping everyone safe. 

When To Talk To Your Partner About Sex

You might assume that the best time to talk about sex is right after — you guessed it — sex! But discussing sex right before or after intimacy can make it seem as if you're critiquing your partner when they're at their most vulnerable. Instead, try to broach the subject when the pressure is off and everyone feels more comfortable and secure.

Here are some ideas for times to talk about sex: 

  • During a movie. If you see a particularly appealing sex scene on TV, let your partner know! You can say things like, "This scene turns me on. Would you want to try something like that with me?" Or, "I've never done what they're doing in this scene and would love to try it with you!" 
  • On a walk. Walking or working out together can help to kickstart your endorphins. What does that mean for a talk about sex? You're more likely to feel relaxed, happy, and receptive to conversation when you're moving. And by the time you return from your walk, you might just be ready to try the things you've discussed! 
  • After dinner. One of the worst times to talk about sex is when you're hungry or distracted by cooking. Try waiting to bring up the subject until you both feel satisfied after a nice meal. That way, you can relax and focus on an intimate discussion at a time when you don't feel rushed.  
  • After a nap. Just like being hungry, feeling sleepy can make you cranky and not in the mood to chat. Wait until both you and your partner feel well rested before you dive into sensitive subjects. In fact, taking a nap together can be a great prelude to an intimate conversation!