Talking about sex doesn’t have to be a big deal. And it gets easier with practice.

How do I talk to my partner about sex?

Communication is a really important part of any relationship, sexual or not. Saying, “Can we try ___” or, “That doesn’t feel good to me,” or, “I don’t feel comfortable with ____, can we ____ instead?” can actually make your relationship better. Talking about what you do and don’t want to do is a chance for you to be honest with each other and become closer. So ask questions and speak up!

It’s also important to be a good listener. Letting your boyfriend or girlfriend know that you respect their boundaries and feelings will make it easier for them to talk to you. Ask questions if something isn’t clear or you feel like you’re getting mixed signals. Don’t make assumptions. And never pressure or manipulate them into doing something they don’t want to do.

Talk with your boyfriend or girlfriend about sex when you’re both comfortable and thinking clearly. This means before you start fooling around, so you don’t get caught up in the heat of the moment. But talking doesn’t end there - keep talking during and after being sexual so you know you’re on the same page.

Here’s how it’s done:

Talking about sex isn’t a 1-time conversation. It’s a bunch of conversations that happen throughout your relationship.  In a healthy relationship, both people are able to comfortably talk about consent, birth control, safer sex, and what feels good — without anyone feeling pressured or disrespected.  

What if I want to do some sexual things, but not others?

That’s totally normal — and totally okay!

Be honest about what you do and don’t want to do. Try starting with a compliment (“I really like it when you ____. Can we do more of that and less of _____?”) if you’re worried about hurting their feelings.

Be respectful of their boundaries, too. They have the right to decide whether they feel comfortable doing what you want.

If they want to do something that you don’t want to do, suggest something else you would rather do instead — or tell them you want to stop altogether. You never have to have sex or do something that you don’t want to do. And you can change your mind anytime — even if you’ve already had sex or done sexual things with this or any other partner.

If you tell them that you don’t want to have sex and they’re not supportive or understanding, that’s a sign of an unhealthy relationship.