There's something about deal-breakers that I think a lot of people miss. A deal-breaker is not exactly a standard that you have. Take dating. If you don't want to be with a man who is broke or you'd prefer not to date someone who's been married before, technically, that's not a deal-breaker. For you, that's a standard or personal principle.
By definition, a deal-breaker is more like something that is up for negotiation, but if both parties can't come to an agreement, the "deal" is off of the table. And boy, when it comes to deal-breakers as it specifically relates to sex in relationships, in order for everyone involved to be happy and fulfilled (oh, and safe; don't forget about safe), there definitely needs to be some pre-sex negotiating that goes on.
To me, there are about 10 things that should be discussed between two people who plan on "engaging" one another in the bedroom. For some of y'all, these are standards and I totally get that. But for everyone, there should at least be a conversation—or two or 12—about all of these issues, preferably beforehand. Otherwise, there's a huge chance that not only will coitus not go as planned, but the relationship itself could find itself in some serious jeopardy too.
1. Bad Hygiene
You'd think it would be a given that most people are turned off by bad hygiene. Oh, but not so fast. Studies reveal that many of us ladies are completely into a sweaty man and, let's not act like all sweat smells great. Personally, some of the best sex I ever had came from a guy who dripped sweat the entire time. The problem was, I actually can barely stand my own, so it was getting to a point where I had to ask myself if I wanted to keep sleeping with him. Either we needed to move to Antarctica or I was gonna have to bow out gracefully (we ended up breaking up before it got to that point).
Along these same lines, there are people I know who don't mind having sex after a long day at work (sans a bath, I mean). Then there are others who think it's a given that their partner should wash up first. See what I mean? Some things are not necessarily right or wrong; some things are about personal preference, so there needs to be some upfront negotiating first.
As far as pubic hair grooming goes, I've had partners who definitely prefer a lot of hair and others that feel like having sex with a woman who has little-to-none of it is like having sex with a child (someone literally said that to me); it creeps them out, so a bush is a must. But then, I have a friend who's been married for years whose husband has been begging her to stop "Nair-ing" her vulva; she ain't having it. Sometimes, she grows it out, just to make him smile. Again, there goes an example of sexual negotiating.
Taking all of what I just said into account, when it comes to your partner's hygiene and landscape, what would be your deal-breakers? Do you have any at all? Does he?
2. Condoms. Or Not.
Did you know that reportedly, only one-third of us use condoms? Wow. Even with all of the information out in these streets about STDs being on the rise, folks still ain't wrappin' it up. Although I'm abstinent now, you can read some about my sexually active journey to see that I clearly wasn't the posterchild for safe sex (not even close—SMDH); therefore, I get that using rubbers isn't anything any of us really want to do. But condoms do save lives (and prevent unwanted pregnancies), so whether or not you and your partner are going to use them is a must-have conversation.
If you do decide to partake (which you absolutely should unless you're in a long-term commitment and you both get tested on a regular basis), you need to make sure that he puts it on, every time, unless you consent to otherwise. I needed to say that because, unfortunately, stealthing (the practice of men taking off condoms without their partner's consent) happens more than a lil' bit. This is why condom etiquette is something that should never be assumed.
Oh, and just for the sake of subconscious reinforcement—if a man does happen to stealth you, he doesn't care about you nearly as he should. So yes, there should be no question that what he did qualifies as an automatic deal-breaker.
3. Fetish Expectations
Even as much as I write about sex, even though I used to work alongside a ministry that got people out of porn, I still have moments when I'll read about something and my immediate response is, "I cannot." Literally. Take sexual fetishes, for example. As I was reading a Thought Catalog article on some of the different kinds that are out there— hybristophilia (the reenactment of rape, murder, etc.), hematolagnia (drinking blood during sex), and cuckoldry (enjoying watching yourself getting cheated on by your partner)—while the topic of fetishes really does garner a "to each their own" response, before someone decides to walk into a room with a diaper on or urinate on you, make sure you let them know whether you're down for exploring fetishes. And, if so, which ones.
Back when I was in college (the early to mid-90s), there were some women I knew who, unbeknownst to them, were taped having sex by some guys on the yard. Those "men" would capture footage of those ladies doing all sorts of stuff and then blackmail them throughout the rest of the school year. That is called revenge porn and most states have laws concerning it.
With articles out here like "Should You Make A Sex Tape? How Amateur Adult Films Can Build Intimacy And Lead To Better Sex", it's clear that some people like to film themselves doing-the-do. But with other articles out in cyberspace like "Filming Yourself Having Sex Can Feel Great – but Only If You're Both in Control", make sure that your partner treats you at all times like one of my favorite Usher songs "Superstar"; that just like a concert, if you prefer that all technology be put away, he adheres to your request. No, not request…requirement.
5. An Undesirable Location
I once read a study that said 1 in 3 teen boys are pressured to have sex while 23 percent of girls are. Pressure, by definition, is a type of force or demand. Yeah, it's an op-ed for another time about how many of our men are not as sexually healthy as they should be and it's all because they were introduced to sex via some sort of "pressure". For now, what I'll say is adults can "peer pressure" each other about as much as adolescents tend to do.
That said, I'm all for spontaneity and thinking outside of the box. When I checked out an article on 200 different places to have sex, I must admit that I filed some away in my mental sexual bucket list. But as I thought about some places (in the car, on the side of a building, public bathrooms) and some of the women in my life who've shared with me times when making out turned to their clothes being taken off in places where they didn't want that to happen, even though they wanted the sex itself—that is why I thought it was important to mention this point as well.
He can think that you're frigid, prudish or any other adjective, but you have every right to have sex, not only when but where you want to. Full stop. No apologies.
6. No STD Test/Results
Every once in a while, I'll get asked what my ultimate "sexual low" was. For me, it was having unprotected sex, with three different guys (on three separate days, not all at once), in one week. Back when I was sexually active, my pattern was always to have sex with friends, so it was pretty much a week of "recycle sex". It doesn't matter, though. Because they were my friends, I knew them well enough to know that I wasn't the only person they were "repurposing" with. For this reason alone, I should've required an STD test from them and they should've required one of me.
I've had chlamydia before. Thankfully, that is curable. But hepatitis B, herpes simplex virus (HSV or herpes), HIV and the human papillomavirus (HPV), at least for now, are not. Plus, there are STDs like super gonorrhea that do not currently react to antibiotics (yikes).
I don't care how fine he is, how well you know him, or what he tells you, it's always smart to expect an STD test and to view the results for yourself before sex (especially with a new partner). And since there are now tests that can be taken from the convenience and privacy of your own home (click here for a woman's test, here for a man's), there's really no excuse. Now is there?
OK, this is another one of those points that is relevant unless you are in a long-term relationship. I'm pretty sure that all of us who've had sex, have done it while we were drunk, at least, once over the course of our lifetime. The reason why this made the list is because, if the person you're thinking about "engaging" is a new potential partner and you get inebriated, it can get a little murky when it comes to whether or not what you did (or all of what you did) was consensual.
There's no question that, for many, alcohol can intensify sexual arousal and remove anxiety and jitters. But don't wait until after you're tipsy AF to try and decide if you should get it on or not. Again, this is a discussion that should absolutely be had beforehand. If the guy respects you and is looking out for your best interest (and his, come to think about it), he will totally agree.
I'll tell you what always has been and forever will be a deal-breaker for me. Don't be over here thinking that you'll get the benefits of my full lips and overbite when "going downtown" (shout out to SWV) ain't even on your radar. Nope. Nada. No sir.
Listen, I'm pretty sure that it comes as absolutely no surprise that in a fairly large (and popular) survey, a whopping 85 percent of men vs. a mere 64 percent of women claimed to have an orgasm during the last sexual encounter that they had. Hmph. The only thing that I can figure is the cause of that is selfishness; men who don't make their partner's pleasure as much of a priority as their own (good lovers do, by the way).
The act of sex between two people can't happen without the participation of both (not if it's consensual, anyway). If your partner doesn't believe that it shouldn't go down unless both of you are also fully satisfied, then there's no question that his selfishness should also be a surefire deal-breaker.
9. Sharing Your Partner
As far as multiple sex partners go, two reads that provide some interesting info is "Promiscuous America: Smart, Secular, and Somewhat Less Happy" and "7 Things People with Multiple Partners Want You to Know About What It's Really Like". Something that particularly stood out to me in the second article was polyamory requires a lot of communication, isn't always easy, and some people "fall into the lifestyle" without even really noticing (getting drunk and having a threesome was the example given).
Yeah, about that last one. Whether it's in the form of a full-on relationship or you simply being cool with you and/or your partner having sex with others, that's one thing. But if you're someone who is under the assumption that you and your partner are exclusive, 1) don't assume that; ask, and 2) if he's not interested in that arrangement and/or he initially agrees, only for you to eventually discover that he lied, hopefully it's a given that this is definitely a deal-breaker as well.
10. The Act Itself
This one is short 'n sweet. From positions to the amount of time to what happens afterwards—sex has hundreds of different combinations. What you consider to be a good time may or may not be what he does. If he mentions or tries anything that makes you uncomfortable, stop. If he pushes you or pressures you beyond your boundary, he is violating you. Yes sis, out of all of these, that is the biggest sexual deal-breaker that there is. Period.
Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:
What GROWN Women Consider Great Sex To Be
Sexual Compatibility Is As Important As Spiritual Compatibility
Make-Up Sex Might Be Doing Your Relationship More Harm Than Good
If You Have To Wonder If It Was Rape, It Was
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After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (email@example.com) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
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