Here’s How to Navigate Sex With a New Partner
Here’s How to Navigate Sex With a New Partner
Whether it’s a casual encounter destined to just be a one-night stand, or a passionate experience that signals the beginning of a more serious connection, having sex with a new partner for the first time is inevitably a little stressful.
On the one hand, getting intimate with someone new is novel and exciting — but you’re also exploring unfamiliar territory. Ultimately, the difference between memorable first-time sex and a mediocre experience can boil down to whether or not you’ve taken a bit of time to prepare.
“Having sexual contact, especially when things get hot and heavy, can be super fun, but also super disappointing if not navigated well,” says Jenni Skyler, Ph.D., LMFT, AASECT-certified sex therapist, sexologist and licensed marriage and family therapist for AdamEve.com.
To help make your first time with someone new a time to remember, we’ve asked experts to share tips and advice on how to have your next first-time go off without a hitch. Here’s what they had to say about navigating sex with someone new:
1. Discuss Safer Sex Beforehand
The key to great first-time sex is trust and communication, and that especially goes for having the safer sex talk.
“Topics like STI testing and prevention may not feel comfortable, especially for a new partner and all of the stigma associated with it, but this is crucial for maintaining good health and allowing you to enjoy sex without worrying,” says Rebecca Alvarez, sexologist and co-founder/CEO of Bloomi. “Don’t be scared to bring up protection — it’s key to practicing safer sex and healthy connection.”
Even if the encounter happens unexpectedly, both parties should feel empowered and comfortable discussing protection and STIs. Don’t risk your health if you’re not on the same page.
2. Focus on Enthusiastic Consent
Though it may seem unsexy to name your boundaries and thresholds around consent, it’s important for having a good time.
“When we stay silent or don’t check in with another person, we can very easily misread the other person, getting swept up in our own arousal,” says Skyler. “Then we push past limits or engage in ways that create a triggered response or disappointment.”
So, it’s important not only to make sure that sex is something your partner wants to do before you get started but that they’re enjoying the experience and the acts involved throughout it.
“Consent should be given for every activity at every stage, and everyone’s allowed to change their minds at any time, too,” says Alvarez.
Ask your partner for constructive feedback to ensure they feel good and comfortable. Questions like,
“How does this feel?” “How do you like to be touched?” “Do you want more or less pressure?”
and anything else that will guide the experience are great consent questions to employ throughout the encounter.
Handle Feedback & Boundaries Gracefully
Communication is key for successful sex, including taking a person’s feedback and requests in stride and with respect.
“If someone does not want to do a particular act, especially something you asked to do, it can be easy to feel defensive or depressed,” says Nicole Prause, Ph.D.
It’s important to remind yourself that there are plenty of reasons why someone may or may not choose to engage in a certain act and not to take these requests personally.
“Maybe you were being too rough, maybe you grabbed a place that they felt made them look fat, or maybe it tickled for no good reason at that exact second,” says Prause. “Sex is fun, partly because of the unpredictability, but also can be a source of far too many negative feelings.”
Don’t Expect Them to Know What You Like (And Vice Versa)
What feels good for one person will usually be different for another, which means that your playbook for past sexual partners may have to go out the window.
When you’re sleeping with someone new, it’s important to go into exploration mode to ask and find out what feels good for your partner and to communicate your wants and likes.
“Speaking up simply to tell your partner how you like to be touched that’s important for a good first time,” says Skyler.
“It’s hard to have it all perfect and for each person to know what the other one wants and needs, so you shouldn’t set the bar too high that it stops you from enjoying the moment,” Alvarez echoes.
Don’t Overly Focus on the Orgasm
Whether or not either of you has an orgasm shouldn’t be the metric of success for a first-time encounter. In fact, making orgasm the focus can detract from the experience altogether.
“Being too fixated on having or giving an orgasm will make it difficult to enjoy yourself, and [can] lead to performance anxiety,” says Alvarez.
Instead, Alvares says to focus on your senses and what you feel the entire time.
“Focusing on pleasure as the goal of sex puts you in a more mindful state,” she says.
Don’t Be Afraid to Take Breaks
Having sex with someone new for the first time isn’t always a linear experience, and there may be times when taking a break or trying it another time is the most comfortable option.
“Take the pressure off the moment as best you can to remember sex that is for pleasure,” says Prause.
Don’t be afraid to pause, readjust, or revisit sex later if you or your partner aren’t feeling comfortable.
The Gentleman’s Guide to Hookups8 Positions to Try When Doing It With Someone for the First Time
How to Know if Hooking Up Is Right for You and Your Mental Health