When we begin a sexual relationship with another person, we open ourselves up to a range of vulnerabilities. Depending on your style and the type of relationship you’ve both agreed to – intense love, fu*k buddies, booty call shortlist, marriage and til death do us part – the parametres can vary wildly, but a few things remain true.

You are reliant on this person to show the level of respect you want. You’re somewhat exposed to their sexual history and their fidelity to sexual safety or otherwise; and you’re going to find out a lot about what they like to do in the boudoir (or out of it).

Vulnerability is an act of bravery, but so is self-respect, and healthy boundary setting. Make sure that you know yourself well enough to know what you need, and how you – really – want to be treated.

Socially acceptable norms have shifted a lot since 1958. The equation is no longer a + b = c but something like ((a + b or d or e +/- f) x preferences / agreement) to the power of toys.

In New Zealand in 2022 you can love (and marry) whoever you want, and you absolutely have every right to set the goal posts for how you want to be ‘loved’.

There are two essential steps to getting what you want in bed.

  1. Work out what you like and what you want to do. Experiment. Listen to yourself.
  2. Communicate. Be honest about what works for you, and listen to your partner/s.

Not exactly rocket science, right? But with the ever-evolving menu of movie sex, porn sites, kink, plastic surgery, sex toys, S&M trends, it can be easy to let your view get a little cluttered with what is fashionable, or have your needs and desires overtaken by what your partner wants.

The journey to great sex can be a long and sometimes ‘twisted’ ? path, but if you’re lucky you will get clear messages from your body about what works, and clear communication from your mind about what makes you feel happy, safe, and turned on.

Warning signs to watch for:

  • Criticism of your body
  • Overt negative reactions to your suggestions
  • Comparison to other people/sex partners
  • Controlling behaviour
  • Minimising your concerns
  • Reluctance to use protection

Things to look for in a sex partner:

  • Ripples of sexual frission
  • Great listening skills
  • Willingness to try it ‘your way’
  • Shared laughter and a sense of humour
  • Kindness and careful hands (even / especially in dominance play)
  • Respect for your boundaries and feelings
  • Admiration for your body
  • Keen dedication to your sexual fulfillment
  • Mutual trust and openness

Deep down, you know what you want, and if you are getting that. Listen to your gut. If your instincts are telling you to move on, they are probably right. You, like all of us, deserve great sex, with a caring partner – regardless of what you want to get up to together!

Thank you to Alisa Golovinska for the use of this beautiful image.