How to Talk To Your Partner About Sex For the First Time

Getting Ready To Try Sex for the First Time

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Are you thinking about becoming sexually active? Fair enough but, before you dive in, you should make sure you know what you're getting into. And, beyond that, you should make sure your expectations are aligned with those of your partner.

What makes this complicated is that the quality of sexuality education people receive varies from state to state. So the information you're receiving may not provide the most comprehensive picture of what it means to be sexually healthy.

This is because there is no comprehensive state or federal plan around mandatory sexuality education. And while some sex ed happens at home, some parents are reluctant to talk about sex with their kids at all.

Still, it's understandable that, despite the shaky quality of sexuality education in our country, you still want to give it a try. You and your partner still want to experiment with all the ways in which you might feel good with one another. How can you accomplish this??

Parents: If you need help talking with your teen, check out this article on Preparing for The Talk and Talking to Your Teen About Sex.

Talking To Your Partner About What Feels Good

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Feeling good about having sex means being able to talk to your partner about the things you like and the things you don’t like, and the things you're comfortable or uncomfortable with, even if you don't yet know what those things are.

It’s not always easy to have a conversation about sexuality and relationships. It can be awkward, especially if you're just starting out. But sex feels better, and is healthier, when you are upfront and honest about what you need, want, love, and loathe.

And when you don’t know what you don't know, it’s important to be honest about what you’re willing to try for your own pleasure.   

Whether it’s the first time or the fifteenth, the conversations we have around sexual activity are going to be different every time, or at least with every new partner. If something comes up for you, one of the healthiest things you can do is talk about it.

How To Start the Conversation

Couple talking on sofa in living room
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Talking about sex gives you the best shot at having the sex you want, and a lighthearted, non-defensive conversation is good way to start.

If you’re not much of a talker, you can try turning “the talk” into a game. For example, when you’re discussing sexually transmitted infection (STI) status, you can begin by asking your potential partner about his or her own views on HPV. Ask him if HPV is a "deal with it or deal breaker." From there, you can both have a conversation about your stance on HPV (the most common STI among teens) and other STIs.

Having a healthy conversation also means that you’re tuned in to your partner. That may seem pretty obvious but, because sex can be a tough topic, it’s easy to look for distractions.

Know That It's Not a Numbers Game

Teenagers using cell phones outdoors
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Instead of asking someone how many people they’ve slept with, ask them if they’ve ever given/contracted an STI and, if so, which one(s)? Asking someone how many men or women they’ve been intimate with can feel invasive to your partner.  

No Is a Powerful Word

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Relationship coach Marcia Baczynski teaches people how to say no, and how to hear no gracefully. This is important. You should know how to use "no" at any point where you are feeling uncomfortable or unwilling to proceed, and you should also feel able to stand strong in your conviction.  

Practice saying "no" in a mirror, or just saying the word out loud. Not only will you get more confident when it comes to using the word, but you can also learn to hear "no" too. Instead of thinking of a "no" as a rejection, think of it as a clear boundary. Next time you hear the word, thank your partner for being self-aware and honest with you.

Of course, when it comes to consent, "yes means yes" can be a more effective rule than "no means no." Always try to get a "yes" before proceeding.

Have a Plan for Safe Sex

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Even if you’re not the one wearing the condom, it’s important to know how to put one on, and it’s never a bad idea to carry around some condoms of your own. Not only does wearing a condom reduce the risk of spreading sexually transmitted infections and diseases, but it’s also a great way to avoid getting pregnant. There are even female condoms too.

And for extra points, keep a supply of non-latex condoms on hand. Not only does that make you considerate, but it makes you more apt to get down if your partner is actually allergic to latex.

One more rule: Don’t "double bag." Using more than one condom isn't actually double the protection. In fact, it reduces the condom's efficacy.

In the end, it comes down to your safety and protection. Having a conversation about sex can create the right mood to have better sex.  

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