Is your relationship heading to the next level? Or, maybe things have just been a bit underwhelming between the sheets?
When you and your partner become intimate, ultimately great sex is the goal—we get that. But before you hit the lights there are a few topics the two of you should cover, together, if you want to minimize your chances of an awkward moment in bed. Knowing each other’s desires, preferences, and sexual past is key in starting things off on the right foot. Here’s some great advice from two of our favorite sexperts on how to get there.
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Talk Fantasies, Fetishes, and Desires
Before you laugh, listen up. “Couples should definitely discuss fantasies and fetishes,” says Abiola Abrams, sex and relationships guru and creator of Abiola's Passionista Playbook. “When you’re in the bed it may be too surprising to spring your furry fetish on your partner at that moment. Things like oils and lotions and potions are pretty standard. Those don’t really require discussion. But if you are a bondage queen or secret dominatrix, give your partner a heads up.”
It’s not uncommon for many men and women to feel embarrassed when the topic of pleasure toys comes up, but Twanna A. Hines, sex educator, and founder of FunkyBrownChick.com, says they can be the cure for a sex life that’s gone stale. "Toys aren't just for tots,” she tells us. “Especially in long-term relationships, sex can begin to feel routine. From simple lotions to furry handcuffs, fun accessories help turn the heat up."
Never underestimate your lover’s bedroom interests. "When people say 'sex,' they often think of vaginal intercourse,” says Hines. “Anal and oral sex also count. Are you game for all three? Is your partner? Discussing what's on the table when it comes to sex helps clarify boundaries."
Discuss Your Sexual History and Future Plans
Remember in high school sex ed class when your teacher warned that when you have sex with someone, you’re having sex with everyone they’ve ever had sex with? As disgusting as it sounded back then, the truth is, they were right. “You need to know a person’s sexual history upfront – diseases, genders of partners, and testing history,” says Abrams. “If someone has not cleared STD testing within the past six months then their results are not current.”
Don’t leave it up to your partner to look out for your best interests. Hines reminds us that the job is yours and yours alone. Be proactive, always. "Your sexual health is your responsibility,” she cautions. “What you don't know might harm you.”
It’s okay to start fresh together. Abrams insists that the experience can be more beneficial than you might expect and “when you two go and get tested together it can be an awkwardly fun adventure.” It’s certainly one that ends with you both feeling great about having a clean slate and putting your health first – essentially a win-win situation.
Family planning is also an important part of any pre-sex discussion, and Hines suggests you also “talk to your partner about using birth control methods too.” Nothing is more uncomfortable than dealing with an unplanned pregnancy before either of you are truly ready to become parents.
Make Sure You’re Exclusive
Could your lover have another? Like it or not, not everyone’s definition of a committed relationship is the same. Hines cautions women to never assume exclusivity in a sexual relationship. She suggests being upfront and asking your partner if they’re dating or married to someone else. "Having straight-forward conversations about whether or not you're sexually exclusive reduces confusion,” adds Hines.
You like it in the mornings, but they‘re more of a night owl. You’re comfortable having sex three times a week, but your partner’s more like a three-times-a-month guy. Abrams says knowing and sharing your sex schedules is the key to a successful and rewarding sex life you’ll both be proud of. “Your sexual calendars can be different. You can be on different sexual frequencies. This is good to know because a nighttime person can take a morning sex rejection personally, but he needs to know that at night you turn into a vixen.”
Be Open About Your Sexual Secrets
Sexual history is important and sometimes it includes more than test results and exposure to STDs. “Unfortunately a large percentage of African American woman and men have experienced different forms of sexual trauma and abuse,” says Abrams. “In order to have healthy sexual expression in the bedroom, it’s a good idea that partners are honest about what has happened to them. The good, the bad, and the ugly.”
But how do you approach such a touchy subject, you’re wondering? “It’s best for partners to initiate this conversation one-on-one in private, out of the bedroom, in a safe space,” advises Abrams. “You can begin by letting your partner know that you have something serious to discuss with them and that you feel uncomfortable about the conversation but want to be honest. Acknowledging the discomfort is always helpful in any serious conversation.”
Do your best to push past the awkwardness and get through your story. The conversation will bring you closer. Still unsure? “If you feel uncomfortable having sexual conversations or revealing your sexual past then you shouldn’t be having sex with them,” warns Abrams.