Starting the Conversation

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Communication is necessary throughout a relationship, from the very beginning to the very end. No matter how long you and your partner have been together, you will need to keep communicating about your sexual expectations, desires and needs, as you will both change and grow over your lifetime and as the relationship changes. 

When a relationship is new, we may be nervous to share intimate sexual details because we want this new person to like us. As the relationship develops, we may be hesitant to give feedback in case we hurt a partner's feelings. Perhaps we assume our interests are not supposed to change, but remember that what you liked ten years ago, a month ago, or even 5 minutes ago may not feel good now!

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It can be hard to talk to a partner about sex, especially if you have never has a conversation about sex before. Be as straight-forward, confident, and honest as you can be. Here are some ways you might start a conversation:

  • "I am really attracted to you and would like to have sex with you. Before we do that I'd like to talk about ways to make our sex together both enjoyable and safe for both of us."
  • "I enjoy sex a lot and am so excited about having sex with you. After we made out last night I went home and thought about you all night. If you would like to go farther physically with me, I'd love to talk to you about what kinds of things you enjoy, what you might like to try, what boundaries you have, and how we both want to make sure to have safer sex?"
  • "Since we've decided we both want to have sex, at our next date would you bring a print-out of your most recent STI testing and a "yes-no-maybe" list and I will bring mine as well. Then we can compare notes."
  • (Once in a sexual relationship) "I absolutely love having sex with you. The more I get to know you the more enjoyable sex has become. Now that we know each other better I'd love to find out about other things which turn you on, things that you'd like to explore together."
  • "I have this fantasy that I would like to tell you about. I'm a little nervous, so it'd help me to know that you want to hear it and won't laugh at me."

Though talking about sex can feel a little scary, it can also be incredibly sexy, even if you both have your clothes on. Many people find that when they get up the nerve to talk about sex, their partner really appreciates it. Most likely they've been trying to work up the nerve, too! Many respect a partner even more once they've brought up the topic of sex. It is ok to be nervous--that lets you know that what you are doing is both important to you and also exciting. See if you can enjoy the nervousness--the butterflies! The nervousness might even be a turn on!

Remember though: it is a good idea to talk about any sexual subject before you get all hot and bothered, but this is especially important for topics which require Couple with a condomlogical thinking skills, like safer sex expectations. Remember, most of us don't act rationally in the heat of the moment. Think about your boundaries ahead of time, and discuss them with a partner when you are not currently in a sexual mood. If you are turned on and in bed (or the kitchen or the back seat of the car!), you are less likely to make the decision to use a condom or another barrier if your partner has a different agenda. Having the conversation before you are in a sexual situation makes it more likely you will be able to act according to your own boundaries and preferences.

Other conversations are great fun to have while you are turned on and may even enhance the sexual experience. Telling someone how great it feels when they touch you in that certain spot or in that certain way...or what you want them to do with you (especially if it is something you already know they enjoy)...sharing a sexual fantasy you think they'd like... these are all great things to talk about, and they can make a hot experience even steamier.

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Though it is important to say "no" to something you don't like, especially if it is uncomfortable or painful, remember to be positive about what you do like and to direct a partner in a way that lets them know specifically what you enjoy.

  • "I like it when you touch me this way."
  • "I get so hot when you bite my neck!"
  • "My clitoris/penis is too sensitive for that kind of touch right now. Could you touch me like this?" And show your partner!
  • "It turns me on to hear you moan that way."