There’s a great new post on Pervocracy that you should check out if you’re interested in some of the ideas of sex-positivity that this post kind of rests on.
I’ve been thinking recently about sex (surprise!). I’m going to a wedding this summer of a high school friend who was always very into waiting till marriage. I don’t really talk to her much anymore, so I don’t want to make any judgements about her and her fiance, but it’s been making me think about how scary it’d be to commit to a sexual relationship with no knowledge about your own sexual desires or your partner’s.
Which is not to say that there’s anything wrong with waiting for marriage, or that this is a situation that would only come up in couples that are waiting for marriage. I just think that it poses a separate set of problems that aren’t discussed very often.
So here is my proposal for conversations that I think people should have before they enter a relationship where they expect to have sex regularly. Or maybe at all.
- “How will we communicate our sexual desires?” This includes “I want to have sex,” “I don’t want to have sex,” “I want to be having different sex than we have been having,” “This isn’t working for me,” “This hurts,” “This feels great,” “Do that more,” and so on. This includes discussions before sex, discussions during sex, or scheduled discussions that you have every month or so.
- “What will we do when one of us wants to have sex and the other one doesn’t?” This is so important! I think that, especially for a lot of couples for whom virginity has been placed on a pedestal, it’s hard to imagine sex with your future partner as anything other than special and magical. Or maybe not. Maybe the frequency of the “man wants to have all the sex, wife wants none!” trope makes people expect to have different sexual desires from their partner. Either one of those can be damaging; the first because neither partner expects to either one of them to want to say “no”, and the second because it can make the couple believe that sex is something the woman is supposed to “get through,” whether she wants it or not (OR it can be damaging for couples where the roles are reversed! It’s tough to hear a man say, “No, I don’t want to have sex tonight” after a lifetime of hearing, “ALL MEN WANT SEX ALL THE TIME FROM ANYONE”).
- “What will we do if we are sexually incompatible?” This should be a huge concern! I guess this one applies to marriages more than other couples; it’s easier to break up over something like this if you haven’t just gotten married, I imagine. But seriously, put this all out on the line. If one of you wants a lot more sex than the other one, how will you reconcile that? Is bringing someone else in to satisfy that partner’s needs an option? If one of you can’t stop fantasizing about a sex act that the other one finds decidedly unsexy, how will you handle it?
- “What will we do if one of us has physical trouble with sex?” This relates to #3. Are you comfortable talking to each other about how your bodies work and the problems or pain they’re experiencing? Will you be comfortable consulting a doctor if there’s an issue?
- “How do you feel about contraceptives?” and “What will we do if we get (or don’t get) pregnant?” Obviously, this conversation will change depending on what type of relationship you’re entering into, and probably goes side-by-side with conversations about future children you might want.
- “How do you feel about masturbation?” Some people consider masturbation in relationships to be cheating! Some people consider masturbation at all to be wrong. Some people consider masturbation to be a necessary part of their sex lives!
- “Are there any situations you know of that you might find triggering?” If one of you has had a traumatizing experience in the past, that would be a good thing to know beforehand!
- “What do you currently know about your sexual desires?” If either of you has a lot of specific fantasies that they think they’d be interested in acting out, it can’t hurt to know that before you start having sex that one of you finds to be lacking.
- “What do we consider cheating?” Even if you’re not entering a poly or open relationship, a lot of people define cheating differently. Are close friendships with members of the sex(es) your partner’s interested in okay? Is flirting okay? Hugging? And how will you handle these things if you feel threatened by or uncomfortable with one of your partner’s relationships?
That’s all I can think of for now. I’m sure there’s a lot of things I’m forgetting! Feel free to add on in comments!