How to communicate
Talking openly makes relationships more fun and satisfying; especially when you both talk about each other’s needs for physical, emotional, mental and sexual health. You can’t expect a partner to know what you want and need unless you tell them. The simple fact is that none of us are a mind reader--so it's important to be open about your needs and expectations.
In a romatic relationship, it is important to communicate openly on issues of sex and sexual health. The decision to enter into a sexual relationship is entirely up to you, and you always have the right to say "no" at any time to anything that you don't feel comfortable with. Remember, there are many ways to express love without sex. If you do decide to become sexually active, there are things about which you do need to communicate.
Though talking about sex can feel a little scary, many people find that when they get up the nerve to talk about sex, their partner really appreciates it. Most likely they've been trying to work up the nerve, too! Many respect a partner even more once they've brought up the topic of sex. It is ok to be nervous--that lets you know that what you are doing is both important to you and also exciting.
Remember though: it is a good idea to talk about any sexual subject before you get all hot and bothered, but this is especially important for topics which require logical thinking skills, like safer sex expectations. Most of us don't act rationally in the heat of the moment. Think about your boundaries ahead of time, and discuss them with a partner when you are not currently in a sexual mood. If you are turned on, you are less likely to make the decision to use a condom or another barrier if your partner has a different agenda. Having the conversation before you are in a sexual situation makes it more likely you will be able to act according to your own boundaries and preferences.
So what's to talk about?
- STIs: When were you last tested for STIs, and what were the results? Which STIs were you tested for? Not tested for? Have you had any sexual partners have you had since your last round of testing? What is your history of STI infection?
- Birth control: Are you or your partner currently using birth control? Are you open to the possibility of pregnancy? What birth control precautions do you want to use?
- Safer sex: Talk about condoms and other barriers, and learn how to use them correctly.
- Boundaries: What are the sexual activities or fantasies you are not willing to explore? Are there places on your body that you do not want to be touched?
This might seem like a lot of information to discuss with your partner but it’s worth it. Making the decision to just ask these questions shows the maturity of someone who is close to being ready to have sex.
Learn more about . . .
Do you know how to use a condom? Where to store it, how to open it, how to put it on correctly? Are you sure? Check out ASHA's animation to learn about how to use one correctly and read more about condoms on IWK.