Sex can be a great thing. It can be an important milestone in a relationship, a way of celebrating and renewing your bond as a couple, and just plain fun. But if you aren’t prepared for sex, it can sometimes cause more problems than it solves. Here are five things you need to discuss with your partner before the two of you jump in the sack.
1. Your Sexual Health
Before you become intimate with any sexual partner, you need to have a frank and honest discussion regarding both of your levels of sexual health. It’s recommended that both of you be tested for STIs before you begin your physical relationship. While an STI doesn’t have to take sexual contact off the board, it’s definitely something that your partner should know about.
Whether or not you want to share your entire sexual history with your partner is up to you. But not disclosing possible sexual infections is a breach of ethics.
2. Protection You’ll Use
Related to the subject of sexual health is the subject of protection and contraception. What plans you make regarding contraception are up to you, but there should be a plan. If there’s the risk of sexually transmitted infections, barriers such as condoms and dental dams can help you keep yourselves safe. Couples who are both infection free and have decided to be monogamous may decide to use methods of other methods of contraception which hinder pregnancy but do not offer protection from STIs. Of course, if you and your partner are both free of infection and wish to conceive, that’s fine—but it should still be a plan that you both discuss and agree on first.
3. What Sex Means to You
Sex means different things to different people, and it can even mean different things to the same person at different times of his/her life. For some people, sex is the sign of a deep, romantic bond and represents a commitment to each other. For others, it’s simply a way that two consenting adults can have a good time. People seek sex for a large variety of reasons, and all of those reasons can be valid. However, if you have a very different view of the meaning of sex from your partner, there’s a large chance there will be hurt feelings and miscommunication. It’s better to get on the same page from the beginning.
4. Likes and Dislikes
If you’re sexually experienced, it can be very helpful to tell your partner some of the things that you’ve learned you like. If you’re not sexually experienced, you can at least tell your partner what sorts of things sound good and what things don’t hold any appeal for you at the present. If you communicate about your likes and dislikes, you’re more likely to have an enjoyable first encounter together. Remember, people’s sexual tastes differ, and your partner can’t read your mind. Tell them about your hopes, fears and expectations, and listen to theirs.
5. What’s Next
An important question for any couple is, “What’s next?” Sex can be a milestone, and it’s important to know what comes next. Do you expect that this is just a casual encounter without any promise or likelihood of repetition? Do you think that this means that the two of you will be moving in together soon? Does sleeping together mean that you are practically engaged to be engaged? These are all the sorts of questions that sitcom dramas are made of, and if you want to avoid sitcom-style drama in your life, answer them before you sleep together.
In this vein, it can also be worthwhile to ask what you will do if you should conceive. No form of contraception is perfect, there always is some chance of failure, and people can have very different views on what the appropriate response to an uplanned pregnancy is.
What If It Doesn’t Go Well?
No matter how extensive and searching your conversations are, not every first encounter goes great (and a lot of first sexual encounters end up being somewhat fumbling and awkward). This is okay, and it doesn’t mean that the two of you are simply destined for sexual dissatisfaction. Continued discussion and continued practice have helped many couples to take their sex lives from so-so to mind-blowing. If you make sex a priority, your satisfaction can continue to increase with time.