Sometimes the last thing we want to do with a new partner is talk about things like sex, intimacy and what each other want. But it's also often the best time to do it, to help set a healthy precedent and ensure both parties' needs are being met.
So, instead of worrying about putting them off with open conversation (though if you do, that could be a sign to move on anyway), start thinking about what it is you want to communicate (in between just enjoying each other's company, of course).
If you're not sure where to start, Dr Babak Ashrafi, Superdrug Online Doctor's GP, who specialises in sexual health, has shared the five things you should ask a new partner. Obviously, these questions work both ways, but sometimes it takes one to get the ball rolling...
Question 1: What are your boundaries?
Feeling safe with a new partner is the number one priority. Instead of just assuming, make sure you're both clear with where you stand on certain things (and what you might want to try!).
"Openly discuss your boundaries and what you're comfortable with in the bedroom. Consent is vital in any sexual activity, so make sure you both understand each other's limits," says Dr Ashrafi.
"Share your sexual fantasies and desires with each other, there’s nothing more fulfilling than understanding what turns each of you on and being open to exploring each other's desires. Are you vocal, do you like to use safe words, or do you prefer non-verbal cues? Understanding each other's communication styles can also lead to a more satisfying and safer sexual experience."
As boundaries are also important in terms of physical intimacy, Dr Ashrafi says things like cuddling, kissing, or sexual activities should be discussed to respect each other's comfort zones.
Question 2: Is there anything I should be aware of (in the bedroom)?
This isn't to point the finger, but to make sure you can best support each other.
"A recent study found that one in five Brits keep their erectile dysfunction diagnosis a secret from their partner. It’s important to discuss this and issues such as pain during sex when entering a new relationship, so your partner is aware of the challenges," urges the sexual health doctor.
"ED especially, is a very common condition and shouldn’t be something to be ashamed of; rather, it should be embraced with empathy, and your new partner will need to understand this."
Question 3: Let's talk about sexual health and safety
"Discussing your sexual history, including past relationships and experiences, is essential for any new relationships. Our research showed over half (51%) of respondents said they’d want to know if their date had an STI, yet just 28% said they’d tell their date if they had one. Ensuring both partners are informed and comfortable with each other's sexual health status is key," explains Dr Ashrafi.
And if you're not ready for children, discuss what methods of birth control you want to use. "Never let anyone 'assume' you’re on birth control and always have this conversation before things start getting intimate. Everyone has the right to make informed decisions about their own bodies and reproductive health.
"Also, Assuming that your partner is on birth control without discussing it deprives them of their right to consent to sexual activity while understanding the potential risks and consequences."
Question 4: Is there anything you'd like me to do differently?
You should want to know the answer to this one, if it means better satisfying your partner (in a way you're comfortable with, of course).
"Be open to giving and receiving feedback on your sexual experiences, and don’t take them personally. Discuss what you both enjoy and what could be improved, so you can continue to grow and evolve together in the bedroom," suggests Dr Ashrafi.
Question 5: What makes you feel close and emotionally connected?
It's not all about the physical aspects.
"Talk about how you can deepen your emotional connection, as intimacy and emotional closeness can greatly enhance the overall quality of your relationship. Understanding this can help you nurture a deeper emotional bond," our expert explains.
"By sharing your love languages and asking your partner about theirs, you can understand how to express love and affection in ways that resonate with each other. Talk about how you both connect emotionally."
The five love languages are words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch.
Question 6: What are your future goals?
"A common mistake to make is not discussing your future goals with your new partner due to worrying you will scare them off," says Dr Ashrafi. Sound familiar? Take a deep breath, and start by telling them yours, which will hopefully help them open up.
"Communicating future goals in a new relationship is an important step in ensuring that you are on the same page and that your relationship has a solid foundation for growth and longevity. It's about creating a shared vision for your future together, strengthening your relationship," explains Dr Ashrafi.
"Take turns to discuss each of your goals, being honest and open about what you want for your future in a relaxed and comfortable environment. Crucially, this will prevent future heartbreak when you have invested yourself into a relationship when you both want different things."
While you don't want to interrogate someone, you do want to know that they aren't just telling you what you want to hear, which can be achieved with openness and free of judgement. "These conversations should be approached with sensitivity, empathy, and without pressure. The key is to create a safe and open environment where both partners feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and desires, fostering a deeper and more satisfying intimate connection.
"If your partner is not open to discussing or consistently resistant to discussing important matters related to intimacy and other aspects of the relationship, you should consider whether this is a sustainable situation for you. Ultimately, open and honest communication is crucial in any healthy relationship."
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