Getting to Know a New Sexual Partner
There’s something so thrilling about having a new sexual partner. It can also be totally nerve-wracking, no matter what the circumstances are. You’re getting to know each other on a whole new level, even if it’s someone you’ve known for years. Understanding each other’s rhythms and motions, and how you harmonize together. It’s fun. It’s exhilarating. And maybe a little anxiety-inducing. But you’re putting yourself out there, and exploring new terrain. Whether it’s a new romantic fling or just a *you know what* buddy, we’re here to help guide you as you get to know your new sexual partner.
What Are You Looking For?
One of the most important steps you can take before you get down to it is to be clear about each other’s expectations. What do you want from this relationship? Are you looking for a hookup? Someone, to explore polyamory with? A life partner? Somewhere in between? Having this conversation before your clothes ever come off helps you both to protect your hearts and know what you’re going into this encounter with. It also might make you change your mind if you have mismatched expectations, and think that one of you might get hurt in the process. While it can be a hard conversation to have, you’ll most likely feel more present and comfortable with each other after this moment of honesty. That being said, things can change. Feelings can grow or fade. It’s part of being an intimate human.
Communication is Key
When you have a partner that you’ve been with for a while, you tend to be able to pick up on each other’s rhythms and non-verbal cues. When it comes to a new partner, no matter how intuitive you both are, you don’t have the ease of familiarity with each other’s bodies. This is why it’s so important to use your words, or hand signals, or whatever – just be clear about how you’re communicating. What kind of things do you communicate about?
First, you’ll want to talk about logistical matters that affect your sexual health:
- If you have any physical or mental health conditions that may affect your experience.
- Your STI status, and the last time you got tested, as well as if you’ve been with another partner since then (you should get tested between partners).
- Birth control if this applies to you. What methods are you using?
Once you’ve got that established, it’s nice to get to know each other’s sexual quirks and preferences. Have a conversation with your sexual partner about:
- Are there any places on your body where you love being touched? Don’t want to be touched?
- Are there certain things you need from your environment, aka physical setting, before getting intimate?
- Do you have any kinks you’d like to explore?
- What does sex mean to you? It doesn’t necessarily mean penetration.
Take Your Time
You might feel like a giddy teenager with the surge of hormones you’re experiencing, but there’s absolutely no rush. You both get to set the pace of the relationship. Take all the time you need before ‘having sex’. Again, sex can mean different things to different people. You might spend a lot of time making out, touching or grinding with your clothes on, masturbating in front of each other, talking about your preferences, or whatever else helps you build the trust and comfort needed to have sex with a new person. Remember that it’s ok to be nervous, that probably just means that you’re excited! If you’re not sure, ask yourself if you can feel the difference between nerves and not being comfortable with them. It’s ok to change your mind if it doesn’t feel right.
Have Fun with It
Sex is meant to be enjoyable. A way to connect with someone (or someones), and experience one of the best sources of pleasure we have as humans. A new sexual partner is an opportunity to explore and create a totally new dynamic. You have new opportunities for different kinds of pleasure, and to learn from each other. You both bring all your prior sexual experiences, whether they’re with yourself or other people, to the table. How fun! Different things work with different people. What’s worked in the past with other partners may not work with this dynamic. That’s ok! Have fun and enjoy the process, you never know what might unfold.
It can be jarring to open up to someone in such an intimate way. It’s not uncommon to experience sadness or cry after sex. Especially with someone new. One of the ways you can help support your wellbeing and your sexual partner’s is by practising aftercare. Sexual aftercare is simply giving yourself and your partner what you need after having sex so that you both feel safe and supported.
Aftercare can look different for everyone. Here are some ways you can practice it:
- Talking about your sexual experience together
- Taking a shower or bath
- Eating a snack or hearty meal
- Going for a walk
- Taking alone time
You might have to compromise to make sure both of your needs are met, but it’s worth it! Whether or not you want this to be a romantic relationship, aftercare allows you both to feel secure and grounded after having sex.
Now that you know what to do, get out there and enjoy getting down with your new cutie!
Natasha (she/they) is a full spectrum doula, reproductive health content creator, and sexual wellness consultant. Her work focuses on deconstructing the shame, stigma, and barriers people carry around birth, sex, and beyond, to help people navigate through their lives with more pleasure, softness, and sensuality. You can connect with Natasha on IG @spectrumoflovedoula.