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Getting on the same page...

Sam: "We should probably use something... just to be safe."
Jo: "Does that mean you want to do this?
Sam shrugs and looks at Jo.
Sam: "I don't know... Do you?"
Jo: "Yeah, but not if you're not into it."

When having sex with someone, there is a lot of room for misinterpretation. This is even more important to remember when you are with someone you don't know well.

Not Just Body Language

Body language can be misinterpreted and can differ from partner to partner.  It's always a good idea to get a verbal "yes," and supplement that with the other nonverbal cues.

Healthy & Respectful Communication

Here are some ways to improve your communication:

  • Think about your values and what you want. Share this with your partner(s). - "I want to wait until I'm in a committed relationship to have sex."

  • You and your partner(s) may have differing levels of knowledge, sexual experiences, sexual practices, and preferences. Talk about it. - "This is my first time and I don't really know what I like. Can we go slow?"

  • Be honest about protection, contraceptives, sexual history, and sexually transmitted infection (STIs). - "I've never been tested for STIs. Could we go together?"

  • Say what you want and don't want. - "I know that you like... but I'm not comfortable with that. Can we... instead?"

  • Ask your partner(s) what they want and don't want. - "I like doing... Is there anything you're not comfortable with?"

  • Respect your partner's response if they say 'no,' change their mind, or tell you how far they want to go. - "That's ok. We can stop."

  • Check in with your partner(s) before, during, and after. - "Are you sure you're ready... Is this good? How are you doin'?" 

Harmful Behaviors

Here are some signs of harmful or unhealthy behaviors:

  • Being afraid to say you're reluctant
  • Not checking in with your partner(s)
  • Begging for what you want
  • Manipulating your partner(s)
  • Coercing or pressuring your partner(s)
  • Spreading information about your sexual encounters without your partner's consent
  • Taking photos, videos, or recording partner(s) without their consent
  • Outing your partner's sexual and/or gender identity
  • Not discussing or being dishonest about protection, contraceptives, sexual history, or STIs
  • Knowingly exposing your partner(s) to STIs without their knowledge
  • Using alcohol or drugs to get what you want
  • Not talking or communicating
  • Not asking your partner(s) what they want
  • Not noticing or ignoring your partner's cues, ambivalence, or discomfort (i.e. isn't reciprocating, becomes quiet, stops moving, pushes you away)
  • Threats or intimidation
  • Using physical violence