While someone’s sexual history doesn’t define them, it contributes to their views on intimacy. That’s why it’s important to ask your partner about their experiences early on in a relationship. Although this conversation can help build trust between you and your partner, it may also feel incredibly vulnerable and awkward. However, by asking the right questions and avoiding judgment, you both will leave the discussion feeling more connected.
Check out the following tips to know what questions you should ask and which ones you should avoid.
Do: Ask Your Partner About Their Sexual Health
It may feel uncomfortable to ask about STIs and birth control before having sex, but it’s an important conversation. Open the discussion by telling your partner the last time you received an STI test and discussing your results. Then ask them about their testing history. If they’ve had unprotected sex since their previous test, it’s reasonable to ask them to get retested.
STIs are incredibly common, and many don’t show symptoms. This means your partner could have an STI like chlamydia and not even know it. If your partner has an incurable STI, don’t panic. With the right medication and adequate protection, you both can still have a fun and fulfilling sex life.
Additionally, it’s helpful to know what types of birth control your partner has used in the past. Unless you’re trying for a baby, effective birth control is a must. Knowing their birth control history will help you understand which methods they’re most comfortable with.
Don’t: Ask How Many People They’ve Slept With
You may be curious how many lovers your partner has had before you, but it’s best to avoid this question. While open communication builds strong relationships, some details of their previous love life are better left unsaid. For many people, this question is a red flag since it’s often rooted in sex shaming. By asking about someone’s “number,” you risk pivoting the conversion from openness to defensiveness.
Instead, consider what you really want to know. You may think knowing your partner’s number will give you insights into their sexual preferences or sex drive. It typically doesn’t. So, it’s better to ask what you’re truly curious about rather than closing them off with a potentially offensive question.
Do: Choose the Right Time and Place
Having a sex chat with your partner over their lunch break can make it feel rushed. Instead, set aside an evening that works for both of you to discuss your sexual past. This gives you both time to ask any follow-up questions you may have.
Location is equally as important as timing. After all, you don’t want to yell personal questions across a crowded bar. Plan on meeting in a quiet place where you both feel comfortable. It might even be fun to turn the conversation into a date. Once you finish asking health-related questions and start discussing sexual interests and desires, the night may take an exciting turn.
Do: Discuss Sexual Boundaries
Before diving into each other’s sexual fantasies, it’s essential to discuss what is and is not OK in the bedroom. The goal of every sexual encounter should be mutual enjoyment that honors both parties’ likes and dislikes. While this conversation sounds like a mood killer, it creates an environment that fosters emotionally safe sex. This allows both partners to relax, leading to more satisfaction in the bedroom.
To keep the conversation light, start by asking your partner what they’re into sexually before diving into boundaries. If that feels daunting, there are websites designed to help facilitate your conversation.
Do: Stay Curious
Nothing kills a conversation quicker than yes or no questions. Instead, focus on asking open-ended questions that can help you better understand your partner’s experiences and desires. Questions rooted in genuine curiosity make it easier for your partner to open up. This will help you better understand both their history and their desires.
If you’re still unsure what to ask, start by discussing your partner’s beliefs and values around sex. This could include questions like “What does sex mean to you?” Once you understand your partner’s values, jump into their interests. Questions around interest and desires may include “What do you enjoy most during sex?” These questions can help facilitate a larger conversation, ultimately building intimacy.
Don’t: Be Judgmental
According to a survey conducted by erotic retailer Ann Summers, 75% of people have at least one fetish. So there’s a reasonable chance your partner may also have a kink. While cultural views on sex are shifting, many people still struggle with feelings of shame around their sexuality. You don’t want to perpetuate negative messages, so enter the conversation with an open mind.
If you discover your partner has a kink that’s not your thing, don’t freak out. Just because they’re into something doesn’t mean it has to be part of your relationship. You wouldn’t want to be judged for your desires, so offer them the same courtesy. Instead, focus the conversation on your own needs. Let them know you appreciate them sharing their fantasies with you, but you aren’t comfortable participating in them.
It’s important to discuss sexual history before hopping into bed, but that doesn’t mean it’s an easy conversation to have. However, by asking the right questions, you can facilitate a discussion rooted in curiosity and positivity.