Let’s talk about talking about sex.
If two people are not on the same page, it can lead to discomfort and awkwardness, nursing freshman Jayvon Hicks said. Hicks identifies as bisexual and he said many negative experiences can arise from not communicating before and during sex.
“If it’s just like a hookup or one night stand and y’all aren’t communicating, the experience itself will just be bland,” Hicks said. “It’s sex. Why make it bland? It’s obviously a magical thing.”
Sex is one of the most important aspects of a relationship to have communication in, according to Lee Kinsey, a relationship counselor and sex therapist.
“When we’re talking about sexual communication, the idea of learning how to verbalize your needs, wants and desires, and putting yourself out there in not just a physical way but in a verbal way becomes extremely important,” Kinsey said.
Although teaching people to talk about sex can be challenging, it is specifically necessary with college-aged kids, Kinsey said.
Kinsey said consequences can be as simple as being disappointed in bed or something as serious as trauma and abuse.
Hicks said in the homosexual community there is often a large gap of knowledge between novice and experienced individuals. He said that in this situation, not having a conversation can be especially dangerous, because it can leave one person feeling uncomfortable. Hicks said if both partners aren’t on the same page, both partners are doing a disservice to the other.
Hicks said in heterosexual relationships, it can be complicated discussing whether to chose between birth control, condoms and emergency contraceptives, but that it is still necessary to do so because this can lead to unwanted pregnancy or disease.
Hicks said he is not too shy to communicate if a partner is doing something wrong or to remind his partner that sex is a two-way street. He said if a partner tells him he’s doing something wrong, he fixes it and is not hurt. Hicks said it’s easier to discuss sex in the homosexual community because of its history of sexually transmitted diseases, so dialogue of safety is common and established.
Though some are comfortable with discussing sex, for others, it is not so easy. Kinsey recommends first to open the dialogue with topics that aren’t sex-related to establish comfort and safety. However, in casual encounters the conversation will have to be quicker and to the point.
Safety and Consent
Consent is the big topic now, Hicks said.
Consent is best judged when a person is not in an altered state of mind, such as when they’re consuming alcohol or drugs, said Karla Austin, licensed psychologist and marriage and family therapist. The best way to avoid misjudging consent is to avoid having sex when a person is in an altered state, Austin said.
Kinsey said “no” is the clearest word we have in communicating a boundary. She said people can often begin with nonverbal communication, such a moving a hand away from an area, but as soon as that wish is not respected, spoken consent is required to ensure both partners are on the same page. Kinsey said to leave any situation where a partner is not responding when communicating discomfort.
“For me, I always triple and double check,” Hicks said. “Not just with my partner, but with myself. While I’m asking them that, I’m asking myself the same questions. Am I thinking about the consequences?”
Kinsey said the best way to combat the consequences of not talking about sex is to simply keep the conversation going.