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  • How do I talk to my partner about sex?

Talking to your partner about your likes and dislikes and your boundaries helps you build a healthy relationship and have a satisfying sex life.

How do I tell my partner what I like sexually?

Sometimes you expect a new partner to know what to do sexually…then end up being disappointed when things just don’t feel that good. Luckily, there’s a pretty simple way to turn sex that’s just okay into a great experience: communication.

Everyone is different, so no matter how experienced your partner is, they may have no idea what makes you excited. You have to let your partner know what you like and what feels good. And it’s good to keep the lines of communication open even if you’ve been together awhile, because what feels good or what you’re interested in doing may change over time.

Some people figure out what they like by having sex with someone, and others get to know their bodies by masturbating. Learning how to have orgasms on your own can make it easier to have one with someone else.

Where do you want to be touched? How much pressure feels good? How fast or slow? You can show your partner what you like by masturbating in front of them or by guiding their hand, mouth, or other body part. Or you can tell them what feels good (or what doesn’t).

Talking about sex might feel a little scary or awkward, but it can also be a big turn-on. And your partner might really appreciate you for bringing it up. If you’re nervous, you can always start by asking them what feels good or what type of sexual activities they’re interested in. Then you can talk about what feels good to you. It’s also a good opportunity to let them know what your boundaries are and what types of sex you’re NOT interested in.

How do I talk to my partner about safer sex?

Protecting each other from unintended pregnancy and/or STDs shows you care, and it can even make your relationship better. It’s totally normal to feel embarrassed to bring it up, but you’ll feel better once you start talking. And your partner will probably be glad you brought it up. The best time to talk about safer sex is BEFORE you start having sex.

A good way to start is by telling your partner that you care about them and want to do everything you can to make sure you’re protecting them and your relationship. You can also talk about your own safer sex history first, which might make your partner feel more comfortable opening up. It’s also a great idea to suggest that you get tested together, so you can support each other.

Some good questions to ask someone before you have sex include:

  • Which birth control method makes sense for us?

  • When was the last time you were tested for STDs?

  • Which STDs were you tested for?

  • Do you usually use condoms and/or dental dams?

  • Have you ever shared needles with someone for tattoos, piercings, or drugs? (You can get some STDs like HIV this way, and then they can be passed during sex.)

  • Have you had any STDs before? Which ones? Did you get them treated?

If your partner won’t get tested or use protection, it may be a sign that your relationship isn’t healthy. When someone refuses to have safer sex when you want to, it means your health isn’t important to them — so they might not be the best person to have a relationship with or to have sex with. You deserve to be safe, healthy, and happy.

How do I say no to sex?

You have the right to say no to any kind of sexual activity. Don’t depend on body language or hope they get the hint that you’re not interested. If you don’t want to do something, say no. It doesn’t matter if you’ve had sex with them before, or what your reason is for not wanting to do it — no means no.

You also have the right to change your mind during sex. Maybe you started having sex and then decided you’re not comfortable doing it or it doesn’t feel right. You can stop any time you want, and your partner shouldn’t make you feel bad or guilty about it. If they do, it’s probably a sign that your relationship is unhealthy.

Sexual consent means saying “yes” — and meaning it. Without that “yes,” there’s no consent. If your partner forces you have sex, it’s rape. If you’re forced to do something else sexually, it’s sexual assault. And being raped or sexually assaulted is never your fault. 

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