5 Ways to Respectfully Negotiate Sexual Boundaries

Updated 11/4/23

5 Ways to Respectfully Negotiate Sexual Boundaries

Respecting Your Boundaries and Your Partners’ Boundaries

Sexual intimacy is important in any long-term romantic relationship. But, it’s equally important to respect each other’s sexual boundaries. Whether it’s what you want to sexually enjoy with your partner, or what you want to do on your own, it’s important to learn how to communicate about with each other about sex .

First of all, understand that it’s normal for a couple not to always have the same sexual desires . Or, maybe you do, but at different times of the day. However, this can cause issues when those differences in desire lead to ongoing resentment and frustration. Thus it’s important to learn how to talk about this in a way that is effective.

It’s also important to talk about things that are often treated as very private such as masturbation and porn use. Boundaries about porn use can cause a lot of issues in relationships. However, tension really can increase when there is not conversation at all.

Sometimes people want to make things more kinky in their relationship , but they’re scared to talk about this. Learning about yourself is important, but so is learning how to share this openly with your partner. It’s understandably intimidating, but it’s just one more reason you need to learn how to open up.

Finally, it’s critical to openly talk about the relationship style that works best for you. Some people desire consensual non-monogamy . The risk of cheating goes up when people aren’t open about this with their partners. Thus, if you’re interested in polyamory or other non-monogamous relationship styles like open relationships , it’s important to discuss this with your partner as well.

One of the hardest things to do is to communicate what you’re not OK with. So, how can you say “no” to your partner without damaging the relationship? It’s all about negotiating those sexual boundaries in an open and honest way. When you’re both on the same page, your sex life can be more fulfilling and you’ll feel more connected.

Listening to Your Own Desires While Sharing and Respecting Your Partner

Understanding yourself, but also understanding your partner’s perspective, boundaries, anxieties, and desires is important when discussing sex.

Let’s look at a few ways to talk about your desires and set boundaries so your relationship can get stronger and more intimate.

1. Understand Your Own Desires.

Before you talk about sexual boundaries with your partner, it’s important to have a strong understanding of your own sexual desires—what you like and don’t like. You can focus on what you physically enjoy for example. However, you may want to look at what other things you enjoy with sex as well. For example, some want more emotional connections, while others want to change the type of experience that they’re having, such as more intensity.

Everyone has sexual activities they enjoy and they’re comfortable with. Be willing to share those with your partner. The more they know about your desires, the more likely they are to include them as a regular part of your sex life.

2. Discuss What You’re Willing to Do.

Once you’ve both expressed your “likes,” talk about what you’re willing to do simply because your partner enjoys it. There may be sexual activities that you could take or leave. If there are things that you know your partner enjoys that you are pretty indifferent about, let your partner know that you’re willing to do it. Some people avoid talking about these kinds of things, which can create some inadvertent distance because the people in the relationship never knew that it was a strong desire on one end, and a willingness on the other.

In sex therapy sessions with couples , it can be surprising how often a simple conversation can open doorways. One person avoided the topic altogether anticipating a negative reaction that just wasn’t going to happen. When we actually have the discussion, you’ll hear how surprising it is that it was never a big deal to begin with. In particular, when someone has kinky desires, partners are often much more accepting than what was anticipated to happen.

3. Discuss What You’re Curious About.

All of us have fantasies. Many of your fantasies aren’t things you wouldn’t bring into the real world. However, when you share some of them with your partner, it can open up good conversations about what you’re both interested in.

If there is a sexual act you’re not sure about, but not completely against, talk about those circumstances. What would it take to get you to try it?

Whether you’re uncomfortable with it, yourself, or you’re worried about how your partner might react, it’s good to talk about trying different things.

4. Be Comfortable Saying “No.”

There are undoubtedly going to be some things you’re not interested, or your partner isn’t interested in. In the field we call these non-negotiable boundaries . Maybe some things will never be on the table. Others might change over time and become more open over time. Just because things are non-negotiable doesn’t mean you should avoid talking about them. Successful couples learn how to discuss these non-negotiable things. Talking openly can help you learn about you partners

But if something makes you uncomfortable, it’s okay to tell your partner that. It’s better to have it out in the open rather than push them away or feel bad about it when you’re being intimate.

5. Determine Frequency.

One of the biggest disconnects couples often face is how often they have sex. One partner may seem ready all the time, while it can take time for the other.

Frequency is different for each couple. You might have to actually create a schedule if it’s something you’re willing to stick to. Or, maybe you can both agree to be spontaneous.

Simply put, the more open you are about how often you’d like to have sex and the things you’d like to experience during intimacy, the better. That way, there are no false expectations for either partner.

Sexual boundaries can be a tough subject for couples to talk about. Yet, they are essential. If you’re willing to have an open discussion with your partner about your boundaries while listening to their own, your sex life will undoubtedly be less stressful and more enjoyable. If you’re looking for a sex therapist near Dallas, please read more about our services. We offer in person and distance sex therapy services . If you have any questions or are interested in setting up an appointment, p please reach out to us today for help to facilitate your challenges discussing or establishing sexual boundaries.

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