How to Have a Sex Talk With Yourself
Before you start dating again, identify your limits and decide what you want out of a sexual relationship.
When Paul found things getting steamy on a first date, he was excited -- and
a little confused. He'd recently ended an eight-year relationship and, as he
put it, "I worried I might not be up to date on the rules. It seemed a little
fast, but I thought, 'Maybe this is just what sex is like between adults
While plenty of advice-givers are quick to prescribe universal rules and
timetables for sexual engagement, the decision about when or if to sleep
together can vary widely from person to person. And because of the subjective
nature of this decision, having a conversation with yourself can help you
identify what you're looking for in a physical connection.
WebMD talked with Rob Fisher, a psychotherapist practicing in Mill Valley,
Calif., about the benefits of having a sexual "self-conversation."
Get real. "It's important to get aligned with yourself," says Fisher,
and ask yourself what you want out of a sexual relationship. "What are my
values? What kind of sex am I thinking of having?" A one-night stand can be
just as valid as a deeper, longer-term sexual relationship, Fisher says, but
problems can arise when sexual partners' values are misaligned.
ID your limits. Getting on the same page, sexually, is easier if you
know your own boundaries. Fisher says, "If you're with somebody and they're
pressing you to have sex and it doesn't feel right to you, that's really
important to pay attention to."
He adds that boundaries can be especially important for individuals who've
experienced sexual trauma and may "have a tendency to allow their boundaries to
be violated again -- they are often used to that pattern."
Track your MO. Examine your dating history and try to identify your
own patterns, says Fisher. Are you always attracted to the same kind of person?
The bad boy? The withdrawn girl? If you're able to talk with yourself about
behaviors you repeat -- and may want to avoid -- you can enter a new
relationship with greater clarity and purpose.
Imagine the act. Try visualizing sex with a prospective partner
before it happens. "Imagine the act outside of hot fantasy," Fisher says. "Ask
yourself, 'What would it feel like to my heart and head? Let me check in with
my boundaries. How comfortable do I feel with this person?'"
This kind of thought experiment may help you slow down and think more deeply
about the implications of sex with a potential partner. "Once you get involved
with someone sexually, the relationship gains momentum," Fisher says. "People
enter into relationships very unconsciously in general. Then they find
themselves in a mess [later on]. Being a little more considerate about it would
probably be helpful."