No matter whether we’ve been in a relationship for many years or are entering into an entirely new relationship, communication is one of the pillars that holds that relationship up. Communication is important in our day to day lives, but is also the greatest tool we have in expressing our wants, needs, and boundaries.
One area where people struggle to communicate effectively is when expressing their sexual boundaries. Boundaries are a key part of any relationship, but with romantic relationships it can often be difficult for partners to adequately express themselves.
Here are some key techniques to help when communicating your sexual boundaries to your partner.
Start With Self Reflection
It’s important when setting sexual boundaries that you have a clear head and a clear understanding of your own feelings on the situation without focusing too intensely on wanting to please your partner or be submissive to their needs. While both parties have to be involved, it is important to be honest to yourself first about your wants and needs. This is particularly important for anyone who may have gone through sexual trauma, such as sexual assault or abuse.
Set clear lines for things like frequency, things you’re willing to do, and things you won’t do. Identify those limits and why you have them. It’s ok to have flexibility, but understand where your line is and strive to maintain it.
Have the Conversation in a Calm Environment
Once you’ve organized your thoughts and you’re ready to have the conversation with your partner it’s important to do it in a calm setting and to be on an even emotional level. Try to avoid adding alcohol or other substances to the situation as this could complicate the conversation.
If you feel like your partner may not understand the need for the conversation or why you need sexual boundaries, it is often a good idea to discuss with them the fact that boundaries help to improve mental and emotional health. Having these types of conversations can actually improve intimacy and trust between partners and help to work out issues within the relationship.
Furthermore it helps to keep the relationship more even, where neither partner is sacrificing too much for the sake of the other. When relationships are too one sided, it can diminish the self worth of the other partner and lead to negative feelings and consequences down the road.
Keep in Mind Boundaries Can Evolve
Having this type of conversation can be difficult at first, but once you learn to express yourself and get your thoughts and emotions out in the open regarding the sexual experience you would like to have with them, the easier it becomes.
That’s why it is important to remember that this is not and should not be a one time conversation. Boundaries, like feelings, can change over time. To remain comfortable with each other, both partners should feel comfortable expressing both their needs and their boundaries as they change over time.
Eventually, with consistent communication, partners can develop an open dialog about their sexual habits and feel comfortable enough with one another that boundaries will no longer be a scary conversation.