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How to negotiate sex


Let’s talk about sex. Or more to the point, let’s talk about women’s role in gender disparity in issues of sex and fair play. Maybe it’s time we picked up a shard of glass from the so-called glass ceilings purportedly breaking around the world and use it as a lens to examine myths we’ve operated under for too long. I believe awareness is always the first step to meaningful change. My hope is to raise perspectives that you may or may not have considered before, to allow you to peer through the looking glass, without falling down the rabbit hole, to make informed choices about how you want to negotiate your sex life.

Are things heating up between you and your partner? Are the texts getting flirtier? Do you find yourself getting a little closer, or sexier than usual? Being able to have an open and honest conversation about sex with your partner is just as essential to sex as condoms or foreplay.

Starting a conversation with a partner (or potential partner) about sex isn’t easy. But it is a good idea to talk about sex early on in any relationship. Lots of people plan on talking about what they like but find it hard to bring up the topic in the heat of the moment. When you do start the conversation, it is likely you will find the other person has wanted to talk about their ‘turn-ons’ too… but feel just as awkward as you do!

The way you start the conversation will depend on the person and how well you know them. If you don’t want to be direct you may say something like, “what do you enjoy in your sex life?” or mention a website you saw on sexual health. Introduce the topic at a low-key moment, such as while on a walk, during dinner or just after watching a movie.

Communicate your feelings about sex in a clear and positive manner to ensure there are no misunderstandings. Often it is difficult to be assertive when negotiating sex and you may worry about their reaction. Keep in mind that if someone says they don’t want to something, then you have to respect their choice – no pressure, no begging, no manipulation. To find out more about sexual consent click here 

A lot of families or cultures do not speak openly about sex and this can make it even harder to communicate. It is important to remember that your health and happiness is worth whatever feelings of awkwardness a conversation about sex may bring up – so persevere even if you are finding it difficult.

Negotiating sex

Many people feel like when it comes to the question of “sex?” the answers are “yes” and “no.” But the truth is that there are lots of options along the continuum and a savvy sex partner will be aware of those choices and know how to negotiate with them.

Things to bear in mind


Consent is when one person agrees or gives permission to another person to do something. Consent is yours and yours alone to give when it comes to sex, and that goes for both partners. Questions you might want to ask yourself before deciding to give consent are:

  • Am I ready? Am I emotionally and physically ready to be sexually intimate with my partner?
  • Is this legal? The legal age to consent to sex is 16.
  • Will my partner understand if I change my mind and don’t want to do it?
  • Can I openly tell this person what I want to do, what feels good and do I feel comfortable enough to speak up if something hurts or isn’t what I want?
  • Do I feel safe?
  • Am I ready to listen to my partner and ensure they feel safe too?
  • Do I really want to have sex or do anything sexual with this person?

If you answer yes to all of the above, great! It’s time to begin the conversation with your partner. If you’re unsure or hesitated when answering the questions, then that’s cool too, you might just have a bit more thinking to do.

If you answered no to these questions you may want to talk to someone for advice, particularly if you don’t feel safe or if your partner is forcing you to do things you don’t want to do.

What you both want

There are lots of different ways to have sex.

It’s not a one-size-fits-all situation and the whole point is feeling comfortable enough with your partner to tell them what you want – you never know what someone’s into unless you ask. It’s also okay to express to your partner if you don’t feel comfortable doing what they’ve suggested. Negotiate what you’re both comfortable doing, without pressuring or being pressured to do certain things. Also, you may say yes to something and then change your mind and want to stop and that’s okay too – your partner must respect your decision.

If you don’t feel ready for one type of sex yet, you might consider other ways to express your affection that you’ll both enjoy. Snuggling, kissing, and dry humping are all great ways to get up close and personal, show affection and express your feelings.

Communication all the way through

If you’re ready and sure that you want to have sex with your partner, the first thing to tick off your list is an open and honest conversation about sexual health. Are you both aware of the risks of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and how to prevent them? Have you and your partner been tested recently for STIs? If there’s a potential health issue that you know about it, you can both make an informed choice about what to do next.

If you’re in a girl/guy relationship, it’s important to also discuss preventing unplanned pregnancy. Although condoms are a form of contraception, you may want to consider also using another, more effective, method of contraception at the same time as using condoms for added protection. It can be hard to start this conversation but it’s important to ensure you both enjoy your sexual experience. Try to talk when you’re both alone and have some time to discuss without interruption. Make sure you know who’s bringing the condoms to your meet up, or make sure you both always have some on hand. You could also go shopping for condoms with your partner.


  • Never give a “no” without providing an alternative solution.
  • One says “when,” one says “what.”
  • Initiate the sexual act sometimes.
  • Broaden the smorgasbord of options.









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