Sexual exploration is often one of the most fun and exciting parts of any relationship. When you have a regular sexual partner, you have the opportunity to grow and learn about your own desires, as well as how to please another person. One of the best ways to achieve a healthy and fulfilling sex life is through communication. But because sexuality is typically an extremely sensitive topic loaded with years of personal history, it is fairly easy to make mistakes when you have these types of conversations with your significant other. What are some mistakes you make when talking to your partner about sex?
You may find yourself revealing too much information about your sex life with an ex-partner. You may also find yourself expressing internalized slut-shaming towards your partner — which is a very upsetting habit that you should actively work to unlearn. If your partner opens up to you about their desires or history, it is imperative that you respect your partner and keep that connection open and judgement-free.
"Compassion and an open mind is important," Janna Koretz, Psy.D., licensed psychologist and Azimuth Psychological founder, tells Bustle. "Also remember your partner is with you now and you will have new experiences together which will be fun and exciting."
Also, make sure that you do not let that internalized slut-shaming result in you feeling too embarrassed to express your fantasies or preferences in the bedroom. What are some other mistakes you may be making?
1. Slut-Shaming Your Partner Over Their Sexual History
If you have a partner who desires to be honest with you, then that is something you should absolutely celebrate. Just as you shouldn't slut-shame your friends or yourself (or anybody, for that matter), you should never slut-shame your partner. Perhaps your partner had their first sexual experience at an earlier age than you expected, or they have expressed interest in sexual acts that you consider "freaky." In a mature relationship, your partner should be able to share their desires and history without you feeling the need to pass judgement. "When discussing its always helpful to maintain an open mind and not compare your experiences with your partners," Koretz says. "Everyone is different and that's not a bad thing."
2. "Yucking Someone's Yum"
Following from that, if you partner describes a preference for certain positions or a desire to incorporate certain sex toys, it is your job to listen — not express any potential discomfort as disgust. The slang phrase "yucking someone's yum" means reacting to someone's sexual preferences (that are safe and consensual) with disgust. Now, by no means should you ever partake in a sex act that you don't want to, but it is inevitable that your partner may suggest something that you don't enjoy. You can turn them down without shaming their curiosity.
3. Being Too Descriptive About Previous Relationships
As much as honesty and not slut-shaming partners is important, you should sensitively and carefully reference activities you shared with exes. You can potentially make your partner feel uncomfortable and insecure if you describe sexual memories with an ex. For example, if you have a preference for a certain position — and you discovered that preference in a past relationship — you can tell your partner that you want to try that position without mentioning another person.
"I think it's a good idea to consider what part of your sexual history is necessary to share," Koretz says. "Depending on [the couple], different information will be important to share and relevant."
4. Feeling Too Embarrassed To Share Your Fantasies
One of the best things about having a sexual partner is the fact that you now have someone that you can talk to about all of the things you've always wanted to try. Don't let the Puritanical and slut-shamey embarrassment you've been conditioned to feel take away from this exciting facet of a relationship.
5. Ignoring Your Own Desires
Similarly, don't be so eager to please your partner that you let your own desires fall by the wayside.
6. Avoiding Conversations About Sexual Health
Whether it is a conversation about birth control methods, pregnancy prevention, sexual health, or STD status, you cannot be in a truly mature and committed relationship if you and your partner don't acknowledge safety. You both deserve to protect yourselves however you need — and that can't be done if these topics are stigmatized.
7. Don't Shame Your Partner Over Inexperience
So far, I've really only talked about mistakes you can make discussing sexual experience and sexual curiosity. But what if your partner hasn't tried something that is normal to you — and they really want to try it now? You should celebrate their sexual freedom and help them discover new things — not laugh at them or make them feel inexperienced. That will do absolutely nothing to help either of you enjoy a fulfilling sex life.
In Koretz's own practice, she says, "It's been less about shaming and mocking and more about disbelief and lack of understanding. Often, one member of the couple can't understand how the other member did or did not do something sexually at some point in their past. That's often what has to be negotiated."
Basically, it comes down to communicating and listening, even if what you're experiencing is all new to you. And that is one of the best parts of having a consistent sexual partner — you can explore together!
Images: Andrew Zaeh for Bustle; Giphy (7)