Sometimes, when I'm working with engaged couples who I sense don't know each other as well as what marriage actually requires, I'll encourage them to check out a list of questions that I happened upon, many years ago. No biggie, right? Well, that's until they find out that the list has a whopping 276 questions on it (you can check it out here). It never fails that at least one of the partners will say something along the lines of, "Does it really take all of that?"
In a nutshell, yes. I mean, if you're willing to vow to spend the rest of your life with someone, shouldn't you want to know as much about them and how the two of you mesh as much as possible?
I feel similarly when it comes to sex. Although the movies want us to think that it's all well and good to bypass any real communication and just hop into bed with someone because anything less would hinder romance and spontaneity, real life says that sex is serious. It can impact your health. It can affect how you process present and future dealings with other people. Shoot, based on the outcome of each sexual experience, it can totally change your life. No exaggeration.
That's why I'm all about couples holding a bit of an interview session before doing-the-do. Because if someone in your mind is worthy enough to get that close to you, there are some things that you definitely should be clear about. I'm hoping that these 12 questions can help.
1. How Often Do You Get Tested?
I can't believe that there are still grown ass people in this world who say ridiculous things like, "They don't look like they've got a sexually transmitted disease." What in the world? Listen, years ago, I had chlamydia for a couple of years without even knowing it. A bout of mono and strep throat (yep, at the same time) revealed that it had been lying dormant in my system. Moral to the story—if you are sexually active, you need to be getting tested no less than annually. If you're shy about doing it in a doctor's office, these days, you can also get tested in the comfort, convenience and privacy of your own home. You can usually find them at your local drugstore. If you want a list of some of the best ones that are currently on the market, you can check 'em out here.
And yes, if you are contemplating having sex with someone new, you need to ask them how often they get tested. If they say "every year," ask them if it's been within the past 12 months. On the other hand, if they look at you like you're crazy, share with them what I just shared with you—that they can cop a test at Walgreens or CVS and, if they want to be with you, that is exactly what they should do.
2. Do You Always Use Condoms?
I've got a friend who has herpes. If you think that's uncommon, in the United States, it actually isn't. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, close to 1 in 5 people between the ages of 14 and 49 have it. I personally know at least six. Anyway, something that they're always trying to figure out is when to introduce their status into the conversation of a prospective partner. Whenever they ask my thoughts, I'm on the tip of, as soon as you see things could head towards something sexual, that would be the time. I then follow up with, "outbreak or not, make sure to always use a condom". Sometimes they comply. Sometimes they don't. SMDH.
Y'all, unless you're in a committed long-term relationship where there is a mutual discussion and understanding that things are exclusive, there really is no reason to not put a condom on. It doesn't matter if you're on some other form of birth control or not because that isn't going to keep STI/STDs at bay.
So yeah, if you're considering having sex with someone, getting their views on condom use is important. It speaks volumes to how responsible they are when it comes to their own health and well-being, along with how accountable they are to their partner(s).
3. How Do You Know When You’re Ready?
Now that we've gotten some of the clinical stuff out of the way, let's tackle some other areas because, whether folks choose to acknowledge it or not, sex isn't just a physical act; your mind and spirit get involved too (even when it comes to men, no matter how much they think otherwise). That's why I think another important question that needs to be raised is, "So, how do you know when you're ready to have sex with someone for the first time?" Is it raw attraction? Is it chemistry? Is it once they feel like they and someone else see life the same way? Do they have a steadfast "date count" (date one, date five, date 10)?
The reason why this is so relevant is because oftentimes couples experience a breakdown in communication and it's all based on assumptions and expectations as it specifically relates to sex. Getting clarity on how a prospective partner views the timing of sex can help you to understand if you both want the same things, at the same time—which in a relationship, is crucial.
4. Do You Automatically Become Exclusive When You Start Having Sex with Someone New?
Speaking of "never assuming", lawd. I don't know what makes so many people—in this case, I'm gonna say women—assume that just because they start to have sex with someone, that person is automatically going to stop having sex with other people. Don't let these rom-coms trip you up. The only way you know if someone intends to be exclusive is if you ask them. And yes, this needs to transpire before you give up the goods. No, not so that you can manipulate someone into being only with you by "dangling the carrot" so to speak. It's so that you can be clear on what you're signing up for—physically and emotionally.
Sex is a really intimate act. You have every right to know if you are sharing yourself with someone who is sharing themselves with another person or other people. While the details of what they've got going on is up for grabs, anyone who thinks this question is none of your business honestly doesn't deserve to be up in yours (if you know what I mean).
5. Will You Rate the Importance of Sex from 1-10?
Whenever I'm counseling married couples, something that I discuss with them is how important it is for them to share with their spouse how important sex is to them personally. It's because a huge issue that a lot of long-term couples deal with, isn't the fact that they aren't sexually compatible, it's that their expectation for how often they want to have sex isn't the same.
A one-off, sexually, is one thing. However, if you're planning on having sex with someone for quite a while, it's critical that you ask them to rate how important sex, in a relationship, is to them. Because listen, if you say "4" and they say "9" (or vice versa), I can promise you that there is gonna be some conflict up the road. Better to figure out if you can find some common ground before hopping in the sack. Trust me.
6. Do You See Sex in “Levels”?
What exactly do I mean by this? Last year, I wrote an article for the platform about how friendships come in levels. Well, something else that does is sex. Some people see sex as being purely recreational. Some people only have sex once some sort of emotional connection has been established. Some people wait for sex until there is a long-term relationship or even marriage. And with those levels, oftentimes comes the amount of vulnerability and sharing that they are willing to do, both in and out of the bedroom. I know several people who go through the mechanics of sex without really revealing much of themselves at all. Meanwhile, some of their partners have ended up feeling devastated because they were going "all in" on their end. Never assume that passionate sex is a solid emotional connection. Getting this kind of understanding comes from verbal communication not sexual activity. Again, just about everything has levels to it. When it comes to what your potential partner's levels are—ASK.
7. What Are Your Sexual Priorities?
Priority is an interesting word. It speaks to level of importance. It speaks to when something should occur. It speaks to what deserves to receive special attention. Keeping all of this in mind, knowing what someone's sexual priorities—yes, in this context—is really important as well. Is foreplay a big deal to them or not? How do they feel about afterplay? Do they have things on their sex bucket list that they haven't tried (and want to with you)? How open are they to trying new things? How important to them is their partner's pleasure? Learning what someone prioritizes in the sexual realm can give you a whole lot of insight into their approach to sex overall. And listen sis, the less you are blindsided, the better.
8. What Are Your Sexual Boundaries?
A couple of years ago, I penned an article for the site entitled, "These Are The Deal-Breakers You Shouldn't Hesitate To Have In The Bedroom". The reality is, even though you really can't get more naked (literally) with someone than when it comes to sex, most of us aren't so uninhibited that we have absolutely no boundaries or limits at all. What is your partner willing to do? What are they not willing to do? Do they feel some type of way about having sex in their home or their partner spending the night? What are some sexual pet peeves or irritants that they've got? Are there some things that are open to compromise and if so, what are they? Listen, I don't care how much chemistry you have with someone, never assume that your idea of great sex (more on that in a bit) is the same definition they've got. Again, the only way to know for sure is if you talk it out. Disrespecting somebody's boundaries are a big deal. Bedroom limits are certainly not exempt.
9. How Do You Feel About Oral Sex?
While it personally blows my mind, how many grown men and women can take a pass on oral sex (because usually it's the giving not the receiving that they don't like), that doesn't change the fact that it's the truth. Some people in my own world could do without it and boy has it caused problems in the bedroom for them (married and single people alike). You don't want to find out after you've given on your end (or even once you're just naked) that your partner has no intentions on returning the favor. So, if oral sex is a big deal to you, you need to find out if 1) they are down and 2) if they enjoy doing it or merely tolerate it as a means to an end. Hmph. Let me tell it, the folks who are down to receive and not give are revealing more than just their views on oral sex; they're low-key telling you if they're a selfish lover or not because if they want what they aren't willing to give…isn't that the textbook definition of what selfishness is?
10. Does Sex Change the Dynamic of the Relationship for You?
I'm the kind of person who believes that sex changes everyone to some extent. I mean, the oxytocin (the natural hormone that comes from kissing, cuddling and having sex that bonds you to the person you are doing those things with) is enough of a reason to support this stance. Still, some folks definitely end up getting way more attached than others. Plus, not everyone sees sex from the same perspective. I know people who immediately think they are in love after their first time with someone. I also know people who can chalk sex up to being something cool to do, so they don't find themselves super emotionally invested at all. That's because, even if science says that their bodies are connecting with someone, if they mentally and emotionally choose to check/tap out, that can still hinder anything serious from developing.
So yeah, you definitely need to find out if the person you're thinking about having sex with only wants to have sex or if they see that as a sign of taking the dynamic to another level. Again, far too many people create movies in their mind of what they think sex should be and do for them. Then when they get disappointed, they blame the other person. Sex doesn't translate for everyone the same way. The only way you'll know how it affects them relationally is by openly and genuinely talking with them about it.
11. Have You Ever “Faked It”? If So, Why?
Wanna know how egotistical someone is when it comes to sex? Ask them if they know that someone they've had sex with has faked an orgasm before. I don't care if it's a man or a woman, if they come at you with "Oh, I KNOW that hasn't happened"…EGO. The reality is that 75-80 percent of women haven't had a vaginal orgasm before and 1 in 4 guys have admitted that they've faked climaxing. For us, an orgasm comes with contractions (which means our partner should be able to feel some pulsating going on if they are inside of our vagina). For guys, it needs to go on record that a man hasn't automatically had an orgasm just because he ejaculated (men can have an orgasm without ejaculating too). That's why, all of that yelling and wall-climbing aren't a dead orgasm giveaway. Sometimes it's literally just an act.
The reasons why people choose to fake it are vast. Some want to hurry up and get sex over with. Some feel self-conscious about not having one and they don't want their partner to know. Some are unhappy in bed and yet want their partner to be pleased. The bottom line here is faking it is never "just faking it"; there's a story behind it and whatever that account is, it can reveal a lot about a person. For this reason, asking a prospective partner if they have faked it and, if so, why they thought that was the "right" thing to do.
12. How Do You Define “Great Sex”?
When you get a chance, check out "What GROWN Women Consider Great Sex To Be". I wrote it with the objective of expanding the concept of what "great sex" is for mature individuals. And for that reason, I'm gonna close out here. Like most things in life, defining "great" is highly subjective, especially when it comes to sexual activity. Some people think that someone who is down for whatever is great. Some feel like those with a super high libido are great. Others think that sex within the confines of a serious relationship make for great sex. While yes, some things you won't discover on the "great scale" until the act actually transpires, having some sort of insight into what makes someone walk away from a sexual experience with a huge smile on their face can happen before everyone's clothes come off—and it should.
Whew. There you have it. Listen, no one is saying that this has to be an interrogation. Just over a couple of glasses of wine, express that you'd like to learn a few things in the sex department. If he has a mature approach to sex—and you—he'll be open to the discussion. And whether you ultimately decide to move forward or not, you'll have a lot more peace of mind. Guaranteed.
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