As it's the last day of #SexualHealthWeek2015 and fresher's weeks are getting into full swing across the country, we teamed up with our friends at KCL Sexpression for this week's blog post. Sexpression is a student organisation that empowers young people to make decisions about sex and relationships by running informal and comprehensive sex and relationship sessions in the community.
The KCL branch have been fantastically supportive to SH:24 in promoting the service to students so we invited their volunteer Nick Batley to take on this week's blog challenge: ways to communicate with your partner about both of your sexual wants and needs.
Getting to know your partner (and yourself)
Discussing what you like and dislike with your partner is not something we are often used to. If your main inspiration for sex and relationships is television and film, the overriding impression you would get is that you don’t *need* to discuss what you like with your partner; that even on your first sexual encounter with them, you have a telepathic connection, and some flattering lighting along with romantic music.
Often, the issue can simply be that people don’t know what they like or dislike; how or where they like to be touched. One way to help with this is our good old friend, masturbation. Simply getting to know your body can be an incredibly helpful way of learning what you like, but also seeing what you don’t like, by yourself. Experiment with toys, get yourself in the right, calm setting (whatever that is for you) to truly get in touch (hehe) with yourself. This way, you can become much more confident in discussing with your partner what feels good for you
Without discussing with your partner what you like and don’t like, sex can often fall into a familiar, pre-determined pattern of how we imagine sex should be - what order it should happen in, and who does what. I’m not going to describe it here, because the fact is that you already know what it is. While this sexual script may work for some, it will not work for everyone, or indeed most.
That's enough chat
While discussing what you like has value, it is true there's a certain lack of appeal in discussing everything you’re going to do. It can kill the ‘buzz’ to discuss every last detail, though clearly, with some forms of sex it's very important to discuss everything beforehand (BDSM, for example). Many people are unwilling to sit down and discuss every detail, and if you did this, it’s quite likely that you would end up not having sex (disaster).
So is there a happy balance between discussion and spontaneity? Perhaps. It’s good to have a mixture of discussion and spontaneity, where you’re able to ‘tune in’ with your partner, while regularly checking in with your partner. If you don’t know what they like, ask. If they don’t know, or are interested in trying something new, or something you know you like, regularly check in, or pick up on body language (eye contact, noises, body/hand movements etc) to make sure they're OK. Simply asking whether they are enjoying it can help, and if they aren’t, respect that. Maybe they’d like to stop, maybe they’d like to try something else, but regularly checking in with partners is a good way to establish what they do and don't like.
Thanks Nick - if you're a KCL student who'd like to get tips or info from Sexpression or maybe even volunteer with them on campus, you can contact them via their website http://sexpression-kcl.org.uk/ And, if you're just getting to know someone new, why not include getting tested in your discussions about sex too.