Communication is a key component of any romantic partnership and any sexual relationship, but that doesn't mean that your partner should feel free to say whatever they want about your sex life. In fact, there are several disrespectful, potentially abusive red flags that you should watch out for when listening to how your partner talks about sex. What are some things that your partner should never say about your sex life?
First, what do they think about sexual history? Of course, some couples are more open about sexual pasts than others, but that doesn't allow your partner to force you to disclose past sexual partners. General openness is also not a window for partners to discuss intimate details about their exes either.
The manner in which your partner discusses your current sex life can reveal a lot about how they understand your sexual pleasure and autonomy. Do they view your orgasm as secondary to their own? It is especially important to recognize if your partner ever coerces you into sex or shames you for not wanting to engage in it. Partners commit rape too, and we must speak out against it.
Sex is a vulnerable, intimate, fun, beautiful, consensual thing, and hostile communication and unhealthy relationships can tarnish the act until it becomes undesirable and toxic. If your partner says any of the following things about your sex life, it is time to either discuss the issues, or maybe even end the relationship.
1. They Demand To Know Your Sex Number
Disclosing information about sexual history for sexual health purposes is one thing; being pressured by a partner to reveal your number of sexual partners is another. Our culture likes to ascribe arbitrary characteristics to people based on how many folks they've slept with, and women are especially damned if we do and damned if we don't. If we've had too many sexual partners, than we are sluts. If we've had too few sexual partners, than we are prudes, inadequate due to inexperience. By forcing you to share this information about your sex life, your partner may be revealing their controlling, jealous qualities.
Even if your partner is asking out of non-malicious curiosity, they likely shouldn't utter the question. For a lot of people, it's just slightly too uncomfortable to imagine all of the folks that your partner has boned and it could make things unnecessarily weird in your partnership. You also may be, very understandably, too uncomfortable to share, and you're not alone. A 2015 Match study found that more than half of surveyed unmarried peoples did not want to know their significant other's sex number.
Elizabeth Bernstein analyzed these findings for Wall Street Journal, explaining that partners may ask the question as it is "a window into your relationship history," but such complex parts of your past cannot be summed up by a lone number. It really serves no purpose. Dr. Robi Ludwig, a psychotherapist and author, told Stylecaster, “I think people want to know they’re with someone who’s had a successful dating history, but the details of one’s sexual life is often hard for anyone’s ego to take... It really can cause unnecessary harm to a relationship; especially in the beginning.”
Plus, you might not even be able to answer the question — not because you're some out-of-control floozy who lost count (as some would accuse), but because you stopped caring to count a long time ago; your worth is not dependent on your sexual activity.
2. They Compare Your Sex Life To Their Previous Relationships
There are few justifiable reasons for your significant other to openly compare you to their ex-partners. People should not be ranked against each other or made to feel insecure because they are not someone else, especially in a scenario as intimate and vulnerable as sex. There are a few inappropriate instances when a partner may speak to you this way. If, for example, you don't orgasm from vaginal penetration and your partner takes this personally, then your significant other may defensively claim that their exes could orgasm, so why can't you, what's wrong with you, etc. This is unacceptable behavior and extremely unfair pressure to put on you; your partner should instead ask what you — a unique person — need to achieve pleasure. Their is no need for an ex's name to be uttered, and never a reason for your body to be judged alongside another's.
On the other hand, your partner may genuinely be curious if you'd like to try something in the bedroom because they and a previous partner enjoyed it. While it's wonderful that your partner wants to explore fun things with you, there is no reason to bring it up by saying "[Ex-Partner] thought it was really hot when I did this — wanna try?" They can get an answer without having to describe sex with past loves. Similarly, your partner may have some directions for you to help them enjoy certain acts more fully. You should not be offended because your partner communicates what makes them feel good; that is very important, normal, and healthy. However, you can definitely be offended if your SO gives instructions like "It felt better when [Ex-Partner] did it like this. Try that." Nope. There is absolutely no need for your partner to go into specifics involving an old flame to improve your sex life.
3. "You Can't Orgasm Anyway, So..."
Studies show that approximately 80 percent of women have trouble reaching orgasm from vaginal penetration alone, and one in three women struggle to reach orgasm from any sexual activity at all. This does not mean sex can't be pleasurable, and cis men often have trouble understanding that absent orgasms are not an attack on their masculinity or evidence that a woman isn't enjoying the act of sex. If your partner becomes angry, defensive, and closed off, instead of receptive to and communicative about individual needs in your sex life, then we have a problem. We have even more of a problem if your partner assumes this means that they don't have to try to please you "since you won't orgasm anyway." It is unacceptable for your partner to assume orgasm difficulties excuse them from exerting any effort to please you.
4. They Guilt You For Not Wanting To Have Sex
It is understandable that your partner may express feeling unwanted in the relationship if your sex drives don't align, and you owe your partner a conversation to alleviate any insecurities. However, it is completely inexcusable for a partner to make you feel guilty for not wanting to have sex, or to coerce you into having sex whenever they want. You never owe sex to anybody, even if they are your partner and you have slept with them before. That is sexual assault. Consent is revocable every time, all the time.
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