7 Assumptions You Should Never Make About A Sexual Partner
Many people have been taught to believe that sex isn't something you should talk about. This leads to lots of problems, one of which is people making assumptions about their partners. These assumptions take many forms, but they all detract from our ability to get what we want in bed and give our partners what they want, as well.
"One of our downfalls is making assumptions about others, either that they can figure out what we’re thinking/feeling/wanting or that we can successfully guess what their deal is," sex educator Anne Hodder, tells Bustle. "All of this stems from avoiding the discomfort of communicating, using our words to give and receive potentially sensitive — but often vital — personal information."
The alternative to making assumptions, of course, is talking. "The only way we can 100 percent know something about another person is if we hear it from them, and that might mean we’ll have to ask questions and initiate conversation about it," Hodder says. "It might feel challenging at first, but the more we do it, the easier it gets!"
On that note, here are some assumptions you should never make about a sexual partner, whether it's within a serious relationship, a casual hookup, or something in between.
1. What They're Consenting To
The most vital area in which to avoid assumptions is consent. You can never assume someone has consented just because they've consented to another act, they've consented to the same act before, you're in a relationship, they went back to your place, or any reason.
Rather than assume your partner consents to something unless they tell you "no," wait until you get a "yes" before engaging in any sexual act.
2. What Their Approach Is To Safer Sex
Unsexy as it may feel, it's vital to be on the same page about STI protection and/or birth control before engaging in any act that could lead to STIs or pregnancy. That way, nobody will be unknowingly exposing themselves to risks they're not comfortable exposing themselves to.
3. What Sex Acts They're Into
Many people learn sexual scripts that dictate how a sexual encounter "should" go. For heterosexual encounters, for example, the script is usually "kissing, foreplay, intercourse."
But not everybody likes every sexual act within their society's dominant sexual script. Some people, for example, may not like kissing or intercourse or oral sex. That's why it's necessary for people to talk to their partners about what they are and aren't into.
4. Whether They've Orgasmed
Apparently, people aren't always sure whether their partners have orgasmed. A 2018 study in The Journal of Sexual Medicine found that a quarter of men overestimated how often their wives orgasmed. This may be in part because their partners are faking orgasms, but it could also be because they're assuming their partners have orgasmed when they haven't. Another 17 percent underestimated their wives' orgasm frequency, which also indicates a lack of communication.
As sex researcher Justin Lehmiller points out in Tonic, this may be happening because people are basing their perceptions of orgasm on porn, where women are usually very vocal. So, if their partner is moaning, they may assume she's orgasmed, and if she's not, they may assume she hasn't.
While perceiving orgasm may seem more straightforward for those with penises, it is possible to ejaculate without orgasming and to orgasm without ejaculation. So, no matter who you're sleeping with, the only way to know is to ask.
5. Whether They're Satisfied
Similarly, there's no physical sign that can tell you whether someone's ready for a sexual encounter to be over — not even orgasm, because orgasm and satisfaction are not the same thing. Someone may orgasm but still want to kiss or cuddle or continue sex. Someone may not orgasm but may still be perfectly happy and ready to stop. Once again, the only way to know is to check in.
6. What Kind Of Relationship They Want
Assuming that someone you're sleeping with wants a relationship can lead to hurt feelings, and assuming they don't can lead you to inadvertently hurt their feelings. If one person's looking for a one-night stand and one's looking for a relationship, it's better to learn that before things get messy.
7. Whether They Have Other Partners
Some people prefer to have one sexual partner at a time, while for others, there's no such thing as too many lovers. Both these approaches are A-OK. What's not OK is avoiding conversations about relationship models. This can lead to misunderstandings about STI prevention along with hurt feelings.
In short, it's best not to assume anything about a sexual partner. The less you assume, the more you have to talk about — and that's good for both of you, because talking about sex is sexy.