Consent is essential in the bedroom. It's beyond a non-negotiable. And while a lot of people understand that when it comes to consenting to having sex in the first place, there are lots of things that you need to ask before doing in bed.
I'm not saying that between every adjustment or new position you're going to stop and have a chat about it. It doesn't have to be that. "Asking doesn't always need to be vocal, there can be nonverbal or verbal signs," Amy Levine, sex coach and founder of Ignite Your Pleasure, tells Bustle. "But for sex generally, and certain acts specifically, there always need to be a clear affirmative that your partner wants to participate."
So no matter how you choose to ask for and show consent, there needs to be some kind of communication. Sometimes, it's just going to be eye contact. Sometimes, it's going to be a whispered suggestion. Sometimes it might just be a conversation you have before you even get in the bedroom about what you're going to try. But for a lot of things, especially if one partner is going to feel particularly vulnerable, the asking has to happen.
Here are seven things you should always ask before doing in bed.
1. Butt Play
This is never a place anything should 'accidentally slip'. Although anal play can be great, not everyone is into it. Plus, it can be painful if done without proper prep, so you need to ask and have a game plan. "A good way to ease in is to start by playing with the perineum or circle the opening, rather than darting inside," Levine tells Bustle. "Check in with eye contact and non verbal cues or ask." Whatever you do, just don't go right for it.
Everyone's line for what constitutes BDSM is different. But if you're trying it for the first time, you need to talk about it. And even if you're old hat, you need to set the ground rules."On any level novice or more, it's important to ask for a safe word," Levine says. Make sure to set the boundaries before hand.
3. Anything Very New
If you've been having sex for a long time with someone, you may feel super comfortable. That's great, but that almost means that your partner may be extra shaken up if you try anything really far out of your comfort zone. Wanting to try a new position or location is great, but if you're really changing things make sure your partner is on board.
4. Fantasy Play
"Not everyone is going to be up for everything," Levine tells Bustle. "So start by asking 'What are some of your fantasies?' outside of sex rather than jumping in. (You probably want to know someone a while before asking this one.)" If you just jump into something it may be disorientating or make them uncomfortable. Be sure to move slow.
5. Group Sex
I know it seems obvious, but I have to say it. You can't just invite someone else to the party. Never put someone on the spot when they might be uncomfortable.
6. Not Using Birth Control
Whether it's a guy taking off a condom during sex or just assuming she's on The Pill when she's not, the choice to not use birth control should be a conversation between the both of you. There are big consequences to not using birth control — pregnancy and STIs to name a few— so if you're choosing not to use it, you must make sure your partner is informed.
7. Introducing Toys
Sex toys can be amazing in the bedroom for both gay and straight couples. But the first time you use them can be difficult — especially if one partner is new to them or feels like using toys implies they're not enough in the bedroom. Be sure to have a conversation beforehand about how much you enjoy the sex and you're just looking to mix things up and add to it, rather than not being satisfied. It'll save some emotional stress and you'll still get an amazing addition to your sex life.
Images: Andrew Zaeh for Bustle; Giphy (7)