While sex isn’t everything in a healthy relationship, it can be an important part. Feeling comfortable with your sex life builds intimacy, can make you feel closer to your partner, and create more enjoyable, loving experiences for both of you. The idea of “sexual boundaries” might not sound all that romantic. However, they’re often necessary to make sure both you and your partner are comfortable and that you feel safe with everything that is happening in the bedroom.
There might be times when it’s difficult to talk about your sexual boundaries because you’re worried they might come with judgment. Or you might wonder if your partner will be “okay” with them or not. The most important thing you can do for your sex life is to talk things out and keep communicating. When you’re discussing your boundaries, there are a few tips you can use to negotiate them effectively, so you’re both on the same page.
Make Sure You Know What You Want
The first step in discussing boundaries is to really understand your desires. You’re not going to be able to negotiate effectively if you don’t have a true understanding of your needs and wants. Be willing to show vulnerability and express those wants to your partner. Listen to their own desires without judgment, too. This provides a healthy starting point for both of you. While you might be surprised by some of your partner’s wants (or vice versa), don’t let things keep you from moving forward in your negotiations. Your goal should be to end up in a place where you’re both happy, comfortable, and satisfied with what you’re willing to do.
Know What You’re Willing to Do
As your partner starts to express their desires, you’ll likely know pretty quickly what you’re willing to do and what you’re absolutely not willing to do. Get those things out of the way first. Just because you’re willing to negotiate doesn’t mean you have to give up your values, beliefs, or comfort. If there is something you’re adamant about not doing, you shouldn’t feel pressured into discussing it further. However, you should also consider things that you might be willing to try. Maybe they are things you’ve never thought about before, but that your partner is interested in. Don’t dismiss everything right away if you’re willing to give them a chance. When you and your partner are both open to trying things, the real negotiating process can begin.
Make Communication Checks a Priority
Negotiating sexual boundaries isn’t a one-time thing. People change, and what you enjoy might shift over time. As you start to try new things with your partner, what you’re willing to do and not do might eventually change, too. Be willing to revisit those discussions frequently. The more you do, the less “awkward” they’ll seem. Being open and vulnerable about your sex life—including your boundaries — is a fantastic way to boost intimacy and feel more comfortable with each other in and out of the bedroom. Sometimes, it takes time and consistent communication to be willing to try new things. You might end up being completely surprised by where your sex life goes when you choose to be vulnerable.
If you have to take away one thing from reading this, it’s that you should be okay with saying “no.” Your partner needs to respect that (and vice versa). Get comfortable expressing yourself, even if you worry your partner might disagree or feel some kind of disappointment.
Sex is never something you should feel pressured into, and that includes trying anything you’re not completely on board with. If your partner does try to pressure you or gets upset when you try to negotiate, it might be time to re-evaluate your relationship.