How to Talk About Sex With Your Partner: 13 Proven Tips [2023]

Effective communication unlocks mind-blowing sexual satisfaction.

But let's face it — discussing sex with your partner can be as intimidating as a towering roller coaster drop.

So how do we overcome fear?

Follow our 13 no-nonsense tips to learn how to talk about sex with your partner comfortably, openly, and playfully. Also, uncover crucial sex topics, the benefits of discussing sex, and answers to your burning questions.

Also Check Out:

13 Eye-Opening Tips on How To Talk About Sex With Your Partner

Ready for smoother sexual conversations?

Discussing sexual desire and preferences with your partner can seriously amp up your relationship and help you have great sex every time. 

Try our 13 tips for invigorating, intimate discussions leading to better sex:

  1. Talk About Sex Early On
  2. Always Prioritize Consent
  3. Find the Right Timing
  4. Stick to One Topic at a Time
  5. Make a List of Likes and Dislikes
  6. Be Curious About Each Other’s Sexual Preferences
  7. Make Pleasure a Team Effort
  8. Discover Your Sexual Styles
  9. Use Communication Aids
  10. Always Consider Your Partner’s Feelings
  11. Learn How To Listen Attentively
  12. Lean Into Responsive Desire
  13. Consult a Relationship or Sex Therapist

1. Talk About Sex Early On

As awkward as it might feel, start discussing sex with a new partner early on. The longer you wait, the harder it becomes to have fruitful sexual conversations.

So does this mean a person in a well-established sexual relationship shouldn’t start discussing sex now?

Far from it — “better late than never” is our mantra!

Even if you’ve been with your S.O. for many years, you can enrich your sex life by opening the lines of sexual communication.

Now the hardest part about sex talk is starting the conversation.

How do you start talking about sex in the first place?

Kick things off by saying something like:

  • I think it's important for us to be on the same page before we become intimate. Would you be open to having an honest conversation about that?
  • How do you feel about our sex life right now?
  • I have some things on my mind about our sex life. Can I tell you about it?
  • I've been wanting to check in with you about our sex life. Could we have a chat about it soon?

Remember: Timing is everything. 

Once you’ve sparked a sex conversation, you can set a time that works for both of you to dive deep into the topic.

2. Always Prioritize Consent

Consent is the be-all and end-all of any sexual encounter or relationship.

Whether it’s a one-night stand, a friends-with-benefits situation, or a long-term relationship, consent is required for all parties whenever you have sexual contact.

But what exactly is consent?

Consent for sex is an agreement between two or more people to engage in sexual activity.

Many people think consent is just about your partner saying “Yes” – Or, worse, not saying “No.”

There’s a lot more to it than that.

Proper consent must follow the FRIES framework:

  • Freely given: Consent must be a free choice, not a product of heavy intoxication, coercion, manipulation, or guilt.

  • Reversible: Anytime you have sex, you must respect the word “stop” (crucially, without throwing yourself a no-sex pity party). And consent given once doesn’t guarantee consent in the future.

  • Informed: Each person should be fully informed about the situation. For example, if you consent to have sex with a condom, but your partner fails to use one, there isn’t complete consent.

  • Enthusiastic: Sex should be something everyone feels excited to participate in. None of you should feel uncertain or like you’re saying yes to “get it over with”.

  • Specific: Consent to one thing does not guarantee consent to other activities. For example, if your partner consents to making out in bed, you cannot assume they’re consenting to heavy petting or oral sex. You must ask for consent at each step of the way.

Think the process seems quite formal?


Asking for consent can be as simple as:

  • Do you want to do…?
  • Is it okay if I…?
  • Would you like me to…?
  • The key is to listen to your partner’s words and body language. 

    If they say no or seem hesitant, you don’t do it. If they say “stop,” you stop.

    Here’s the kicker:

    Having open and honest conversations about sex makes consent much easier to navigate. 

    You and your partner can discuss your likes, dislikes, boundaries, and limitations so you both know what sorts of activities are on or off the table.

    3. Find the Right Timing

    When is a good time to talk about sex?

    Well, the time to talk about things like contraception or consent is before you do the deed!


    But if you’re in a relationship and want to address your sex life in general, finding the perfect time can feel tricky.

    Here are our guidelines:

    • Plan time to talk about sex rather than bringing it up spontaneously. This helps you both prepare your thoughts and emotions.

    • Talk when you’re both relaxed, rested, sober, and ready for a productive and potentially difficult conversation.

    • Chat in a neutral, comfortable location rather than in bed.

    • If you want to talk after sex, wait until you’ve had time to process.

    • Have conversations about sex often, not just once.
    Read More: Get down and dirty with these 40 Naughty Sexual Conversation Starters.

    4. Stick to One Topic at a Time

    When on a roll, it may seem easier to discuss every aspect of your sex life in one go. But that can get pretty overwhelming for you and your partner.

    So, focus on having a short and targeted sex talk covering one topic at a time.


    Give each other ample time to work through anxiety or complex feelings between talks. 

    (More on essential topics to tackle soon.)

    5. Make a List of Likes and Dislikes

    If you and your lover are trying to find new activities to add to your sex life, make a list with three categories:

    • Yes: I definitely want to try this.
    • No: I definitely do not want to try this.
    • Maybe: I’m uncertain if I’d enjoy it, but I’m open to discussing it more.

    List out the activities you’re both interested in, writing yes, no, or maybe for each item.

    Do this separately, then compare to see what desires overlap. These items could include oral sex, spanking, threesomes, nipple play, role-playing, anal sex, and more.

    Here’s a fun idea:

    Why not use an app to make the process easier?

    Apps like “Kindu” and “We Should Try It” let you and your partner take a preferences quiz. The apps only show you results for ideas you both liked!

    If you’re not yet sure of your preferences, that’s okay! 

    You can figure it out through masturbation, or you and your partner can learn on the job together.

    Here’s how:

    During sex, pay attention to where you’re being touched, the pressure, and the pace. Then, tell your lover what feels good or try to guide their body. 

    Over time, you’ll become more familiar and comfortable with each other’s motion on the ocean.

    Read more: Doing it in the shower is a popular sexual fantasy. Check out our Tantalizing Tips and Positions for a Sexual Shower.

    6. Be Curious About Each Other’s Sexual Preferences

    Asking questions is the best way to better understand each other’s sexual expectations and desires.

    You can get started with these ideas:

    • What makes you feel sexy?
    • How often do you like to have sexual intimacy?
    • What’s your ultimate sexual fantasy?
    • Which sexual activity makes your toes curl?
    • Is there something you’ve always wanted to try in bed but haven’t yet explored?
    • What safe sex practices do you rely on?

    7. Make Pleasure a Team Effort

    Some say that, during sex, you should be laser-focused on your partner’s pleasure and helping them achieve orgasm. 

    Others say you should take responsibility for your own pleasure and orgasm.

    This is a hot take:

    Neither of those is exactly right.

    Pleasure should be a team effort. And sex is about the journey, not the climax.

    You should both care deeply about your own pleasure and your S.O.’s. But you don’t need to cling to anxiety around mutual orgasm.

    So what can you do?

    Communicate before, during, and after sex to figure out what a satisfying sexual experience looks like for each of you.

    Read more: For a guaranteed pleasure booster, see these 26 Mind-Blowing Ways to Use Lube.

    8. Discover Your Sexual Styles

    Good sex looks different depending on your personality and dynamics as a couple.

    Figuring out your sexual styles can help you better understand each other.

    The main sexual styles are:

    • Spiritual: For you, sex goes beyond the physical. You connect with your partner on a mind-body-soul level and feel that sex is rooted in energy, healing, and intimacy.

    • Angry: Some couples feel intense passion when emotions like anger run high. While this can be cathartic, respect consent and deal with the underlying issues afterward.

    • Funny: For you, sex is play. Teasing, laughing, and having fun are the keys to this sexual style.

    • Tender: You prefer romantic, tender sex incorporating sensual touch like intimate massages and passionate kissing.

    • Lusty: This sexual style focuses on the excitement and physicality of sex. You like to try new locations, positions, dirty talk, and sex toys.

    • Fantasy: You’re experimental and daring and might venture into kink, fetish, or roleplay. Remember, always set ground rules and honor each other’s limits.

    9. Use Communication Aids

    Don't give up if you’re unsuccessful with direct, verbal communication.

    One way to deal with this is by writing your thoughts down. 

    You can give your writing to your partner to read or use it to prepare before a discussion.

    Alternatively, try visual aids like erotic books, videos, or movies. Show these to your partner to give them a clearer picture of what’s on your mind.

    Read more: Want your partner to take the lead in the bedroom? Show them these 9 Steamy Ways to Initiate Sex.

    10. Always Consider Your Partner’s Feelings

    Sex is a sensitive topic for many. 

    It’s easy to make your S.O. feel hurt or embarrassed if you don’t approach the topic carefully.

    A good way to protect your partner's feelings is to use ‘I’ instead of ‘you’ in your sentences.

    This can sound something like:

    • ‘I feel…’ instead of ‘You make me feel…’
    • ‘I love it when…’ instead of ‘You don’t do… enough.’

    We also recommend sharing something positive about your partner before discussing anything negative. 

    Wherever possible, elaborate when you had good sex, or something felt great. That way, both parties know better the next time you’re up for a mind-blowing sexual experience.

    11. Learn How To Listen Attentively

    When discussing sex and physical intimacy, getting caught up in your thoughts is easy. And you might want to say everything that’s on your mind.

    But, like in all aspects of a healthy relationship, listening to your partner is vital.

    So, how do you get out of your head and pay attention to what your partner is saying?

    • Stay present and tune in to their words.
    • Be curious and ask questions where appropriate. But park any emotional responses until you’ve had time to process and your partner is done speaking.
    • Accept that their perspective may differ from yours.
    Read more: Check out our 52 Dirty Talk Examples To Send Your Partner Over The Edge.

    12. Lean Into Responsive Desire

    When your relationship started, you were all over each other and having lots of spontaneous sex. But as time passes and you settle into a routine, you feel your sexual desire is fading.

    Feels relatable?

    Good news: That’s normal!


    Spontaneous desire is when sexual interest arises without much external stimulation. 

    But it’s known to fade post-honeymoon phase, especially for women.

    Later in your relationship, you may need to open up to responsive desire

    This is when you want to connect with your partner through sex but need some stimulus to get you going.

    How does that look in reality? 

    Let’s take a look:

    • Scheduling sex: We know it sounds weird at first. But scheduling can be a great way to build excitement and preparedness for sex. This can be a great fix for a sexless marriage.
    • The one-minute rule: This is a mutual agreement that you’ll wait one minute before saying no after your S.O. initiates intimacy. This gives you some time to feel the sexual stimulus and decide if you’re in or out.
    • Sexting: Sending cheeky pictures or messages creates a lusty atmosphere without applying too much pressure.

    Hot Tip: 

    Trying out responsive desire must be a mutual decision — consent must still be the priority. 

    The key is for you both to enter a headspace where you’re “willing to try” but free to step on the brakes at any moment.

    13. Consult a Relationship or Sex Therapist

    Sometimes things are more complicated and you need professional assistance. 

    There’s no shame in it!

    How can you tell when it’s time to seek couples therapy?

    • You’re struggling to navigate differences in sexual need, sex drive, and preferences.
    • You have trouble reaching orgasms.
    • You’re adjusting to menopause.
    • You’re processing trauma in your sexual past.
    • You think you or your S.O. might have a sexual disorder or dysfunction (e.g., erectile dysfunction or vaginismus).
    • You’re struggling with your sexual or gender identity.
    • Your mental health, sexual past, or relationship issues affect your sex life.
    • You want to know more about safe sex practices.
    • You’re in a sexless marriage or sex drought and want to reignite your spark and sexual frequency.
    Read more: Is a lack of sex getting you down? Our 8 Non-Awkward Ways To Talk About Lack Of Intimacy can help.

    Vital Sex Topics to Cover with a Partner

    Unsure what items to add to your sex-talk agenda?

    Don’t skip these nine topics:

    • Birth control and safer sex: Discuss the birth control you want to use, and remember that responsibility for birth control must be shared.

    • The what-ifs of pregnancy: Be clear about what you might want to do in the event of an unexpected pregnancy.

    • Sexual health and STIs: Ask about a new partner’s sexual health status and get tested together if necessary.

    • Libido changes and sexual frequency: Physical and mental health changes can cause sex drive fluctuations. So be honest about what’s going on and how you feel about it.

    • Fantasies and fetishes: Open up about your fantasies and fetishes to see if your sexual partner would be excited to try them. 

    • Physical limitations: Discuss how you might work around any physical differences or disabilities that affect sex.

    • Exclusivity: Establish whether you wish to be in a monogamous sexual relationship or have multiple sexual partners.

    • Preferred aftercare: Share what makes you feel safe and appreciated after sexual intercourse.

    • Sexual assault and trauma: Communicate about trauma in your sexual history so your partner knows how to respect your boundaries and well-being.
    Read more: Dive into these subjects in depth with our 11 Must-Discuss Sexual Topics To Amp Up Your Intimacy.

    5 Reasons to Discuss Sex with Your Partner

    You may think, “Why should I rock the boat by bringing up sex?”

    Well, here’s why sexual conversations matter, no matter how uncomfortable:

    • It makes sex more pleasurable: Talking about each other’s desires and preferences can guide you during sexual intercourse. It can also reveal new things you might both enjoy, leading to more sexual satisfaction.

    • It makes for safer sex: Discussing boundaries, limitations, safe sex, and traumas can help build trust and prevent potential physical or emotional harm.

    • It deepens intimacy: Sharing your desires and vulnerabilities with your sexual partner improves your connection and understanding of each other's needs.

    • It excites you: Talking about sex can be a turn-on, creating anticipation and excitement for new experiences.

    • It improves your relationship: Open sexual communication can strengthen the emotional bond between partners and improve overall relationship satisfaction. It shows that you trust and value each other's needs and desires.

    The Sex Talk: Your Top 4 Questions Answered

    Sex can make for a difficult conversation, and it's natural to have questions or concerns. 

    We've got you covered: 

    1. Why Is It So Difficult for Couples to Talk About Sex?

    Sex is a sensitive and intimate topic for many. It can bring up embarrassment, shame, and fear of rejection or judgment.

    Some people may have a traumatic sexual history, which takes time and trust to talk about.

    There can also be gendered expectations around sex that make it hard to speak up.

    But remember:

    Having an open and honest sex conversation can ultimately bring you closer and improve your relationship.

    2. How Can We Talk About Painful Sex?

    There’s a long list of medical conditions and situational factors that can cause it.

    Be specific about pain during sex so you and your partner can try different positions or lubricants (like Coconu) that can help. 

    If the pain is persistent or severe, consult a doctor.

    3. How Do We Navigate Differences in Sexual Needs and Preferences?

    Communication is the only way to overcome sexual differences. 

    Talk openly about what you like and dislike, as well as where you’re willing to compromise and explore new things.

    Above all, always respect each other's boundaries and never pressure your partner into doing something they're uncomfortable with.

    Pro tip: Try couples therapy to develop a path to meeting halfway.

    4. How Do I Discuss Casual Sex with a Partner?

    A safe sex talk is always necessary, no matter the situation — no-strings-attached, open relationship, one-night stand, whatever.

    With any new partner, cover topics like:

    • Is sex on the table? (A precursor to asking for consent)
    • Is this a one-time thing?
    • Protection against STDs and pregnancy
    • Any specific needs, boundaries, triggers, or expectations that may be important
    • Aftercare requirements

    This may sound bland on paper, but these conversations can be fun and sexy.

    Keep it simple, light, and flirty while still gathering the information you need for a safe sexual encounter.

    Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby!

    Open communication is the secret to a great sex life and a healthy relationship.

    Your emotional and physical intimacy will only increase once you’re both on the same page and truly understand each other.

    But if you’re struggling with communicating as a couple, consult a sex therapist or sex coach for extra guidance.

    And if you’re looking to ramp up sexual intimacy (and kick pain and discomfort out of the bedroom), check out Coconu’s Oil-based Lubricant.

    • It’s a USDA-certified organic lube with gentle, natural ingredients (edible, too!).
    • It works as a silky-smooth sex lube, massage medium, and vaginal moisturizer.
    • It’s great with sex toys. 

    What’s not to love?