Sharing sex with a new partner can be exciting and fun. It can also be nervous-making and daunting. Whether it’s a spontaneous one-time occasion or an intentionally planned, ceremonious exchange, we have a few tips on how to make your first time with a new partner go as smoothly and satisfyingly as possible.
Know your STD status and be able to discuss it.
Get tested! Get tested! Get tested! There is so much shame and stigma around having STDs. This is so unhelpful as it often leads to a lot of avoidance, ignorance, and fear around disclosing one’s own status and asking the same from a partner.
It may be extremely awkward and intimidating but initiating the conversation is definitely the way to go and gets easier with practice. This is especially true if you have a script. Be sure to be able to share when was the last time you were tested, which STDs you were tested for, and what were the results. After you share your status invite your potential partner to share with a warm “And, how about you?”
For those who need encouragement in pushing past the stigma remember:
STDs are very common. Lots of people have them but don’t realize it because they don’t have any symptoms.
Most STDs are easily treatable.
Not knowing your status means you are missing the opportunity to receive treatment if needed and putting current and prospective sexual partners at risk.
Having a positive STD result does not make you dirty, irresponsible, or undeserving of love or sexual pleasure.
All partnered sex–even with protective barriers–carries some risk of contracting an STD.
Partners disclosing their status builds trust and creates the opportunity to have safe and fulfilling sex.
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While this discussion can be very requires a lot of vulnerability with the risk of being shamed or judged, the upside is that you are normalizing the topic while weeding out potential prospects who are actually not ready to share sex with you.
Know your boundaries and honor them.
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This is paramount and often takes a lot of self reflection and awareness. I personally have suffered quite a bit of emotional and physical pain by either not knowing my own boundaries or not honoring them. This has looked like something as simple as being too exhausted to function properly at work the next day because I did not honor my bed time, to something as heavy as feeling dissociative and distraught after sex because I was unsure about whether or not a partner crossed a boundary. Please take the time out to reflect on what your limits are and practice upholding them every chance you get. Remember:
Some boundaries are soft (meaning something you can compromise on), like me enjoying the late night company of gorgeous people instead of getting home and going to sleep.
Some boundaries are hard, meaning they are non-negotiable and must absolutely not be crossed.
You get to define your own boundaries.
While no personal boundary is too big or too small, you respecting your boundaries may upset the other party. This simply means that you and your prospect may not be compatible sex partners. While it may be disappointing at first, in the long run it is for best. You deserve to have sex partners that respect your boundaries.
Here’s a helpful guide on how to create healthy boundaries.
Person 1: I’m a big cuddler after sex. I really enjoy falling asleep in a lover’s arms. Would it be possible for me to spend the night?
Person 2: No, I really prefer sleeping alone. But I would enjoy showering together and walking you to the train.
Person 1: I understand. Thanks for letting me know. I’d really enjoy showering with you.
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Consent is always mandatory when sharing sex with others. It is consensus: meaning everyone must agree on the activity. It must be ongoing, meaning you and your partners can change your minds at any point. And it’s best used before (Hey can we try anal tonight?), during (Can I add another finger?), and after sex (I would really like to shower with with you, how would you feel about that?). It requires all parties to be open, clear, and honest. Some key skills and tools for navigating consent are below.
Safe words - A safe word is a code word that you and your prospect agree to use to end an activity. This is a great tool because it’s quick and no explanations are needed. It can also be an action.
Yes, No, Maybe Lists - These lists basically provide a menu of sex acts. Partners discuss what they are willing to do, what they want to do, and what they won’t do. These make great icebreakers for new sex partners as you do not have to start from scratch and can be a fun way of learning about sex acts you have never thought to try. There are many lists out there, some two of my faves include Scarlet Teen’s Sexual Inventory Stocklist and Autostraddle’s worksheets on how to talk about sex with a partner.
No zones. - These are areas to ignore and avoid touching on your or partner’s body. Touching a no zone can be triggering and cause someone to freak out. Be sure to discuss these before sex.
When you are unsure about what you want, it’s safer to stick with a no until you are sure.
Practice accepting a “no” with understanding and grace.
Get on the same page.
Watersports, as in jet skiing or piss play?
Take me to bed, as in having sex with me in general or sex specifically at your place in your bed?
Sex, as in a casual smash and dash or a definitive step towards a long term monogamous relationship?
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Very related to consent, getting on the same page means making sure everyone is clear about exactly what's going down, and how, when, and where it’s going down. It means that if all parties were separated and interrogated about the who, what, when, where and how, they’d give similar if not the same answers. It also means being clear about your intentions. Some of us deliberately do not disclose our intentions for fear of losing a potential partner. This is manipulative and robs the other party of their ability to consent to that particular circumstance. Don’t be that person.
Clean your body.
Unless abstaining from the practice of basic hygiene is an agreed upon kink that you and your partner have chosen to explore, please clean your body. It will give you and your partner peace of mind. We all have varying definitions and degrees of what’s hygienic. Below are some helpful tips.
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Pay special attention to those pleasure zones. For example, if you love being kissed behind the ears, gently wash behind your ears.
Never go from anus to vagina, or anus to mouth without replacing your condom or glove or thoroughly cleaning your hands, toys, or penis.
Wash your hands and underneath your nails before touching a vulva or fingering a vagina or anus without gloves.
Don’t floss or brush your teeth right before you plan to have unprotected oral sex this includes fellatio, analingus, and cunnilingus. Flossing or brushing can cause bleeding which can lead to a higher risk of infection. Opt for gargling with mouthwash or salt water.
Wipe your pee hole after you urinate. I especially emphasize this for those with penises as this is not something that is normally taught.
Rinse your vulva with warm water and use a washcloth, your hands, or a clean cotton swab to remove any discharge.
Wash your penis shaft and scrotum with warm soap and water. Take a washcloth and remove any discharge from the head of your penis.
Wash your anus with warm soap and water.
Anal douching before penetrative anal sex is not necessary but if you decide to go for it make sure do it four to six hours before sex.
Safer sex barriers like gloves, dental dams, and condoms are great for reducing the risk of contracting STDs. They also make going back and forth between sex acts easier.
Wash all toys and use toys only made from non-porous materials.
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Last but not least is safety. What do you need to feel situationally, physically, and emotionally safe when sharing sex with someone? A protocol for ensuring physical safety is not having sex with partners that are unwilling to discuss STIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections) status or use safer sex barriers. Consider not having sex when unsure about whether you actually want to because that can be emotionally unsafe. What are some of your protocols? Are they aligned with your sense of safety? Never be afraid of a quick self check; ask yourself is having sex with this person safe? Is it worth sharing sex with this person or not?
Welp that was a lot! I hope that this was helpful. Happy Humping!