How often do you have an intentional conversation about sex, before you have sex? I know, it feels like the most unsexy thing ever right? Total mood killer?
Well, it doesn’t have to be.
In this episode I share:
- The 6 conversation starters for better sex
- What the acronym SHARED means
- How to talk about sex openly and naturally
- Making talking about sexual health fun
- How to ensure your boundaries and desires are met
- Getting real about your sexpectations
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Hello and welcome to episode number 15 of The Sensuality Academy Podcast!
Tell me, how often do you have an intentional conversation about sex, before you actually have sex? I know, it feels like the most unsexy thing ever, right? Total mood killer!
Well, it doesn’t have to be.
Too often I’ve heard stories from friends who have shared that oops, they just got lost in the moment and didn’t use a condom, or that they thought they were just having a fun one-night stand only to realise that the other person thought they were dating, or that the other person has left immediately after sex and they’ve been left feeling a little shitty. Maybe half way through their partner started doing something that they WEREN’T into, at all.
Hands up if you can relate to any of these? Okay I can’t see you but I’m pretty sure you’ve experienced something along these lines right? So what do we do?
Well … we communicate! I know, a revelation. It really is so simple but for some reason many of us actively shy away from talking about sex before having it. We fear that it’ll kill the mood or that talking about sex is presumptive, maybe desperate, or just plain weird.
Well, I’m here to suggest that talking openly about sex before you have sex can actually lead to a better, more connected, more pleasurable sex-life. Who’s in? Again, I’m just gonna assume you’re frantically waving your hand at me through your phone.
Before you rush into sex with anyone (existing partners included – especially if you’ve never explicitly had this conversation before), I want to make sure that you have SHARED.
SHARED is an acronym that I’ve created to help you remember the six key topics that I believe you need to be having before any sexual encounter. This was inspired by a student who attended one of my workshops earlier this year at The Hawaii Tantra Festival. She presented this idea to us, and it was just a bunch of different letters combined, so I’ve reworked the idea and created something that I think will be easier to remember.
Now, this isn’t something I’ve just heard about and blindly decided to parrot back to you, my dear listener, no no no. You deserve more than that. You better believe I’ve put this in to practice and tested it out for myself. I was relatively quick to test this out.
I was lucky enough to meet a beautiful Hawaiian man on this same trip and well … it was clear that we were totally vibing each other and knew where things were going to lead. So, I took the opportunity to give this new practice a try. In that, you know, in-between time towards the end of our date but before we had made our way to the bedroom, we had this conversation.
And let me tell you: having an open discussion about the things I’m going to share with you today, only made the anticipation that much sweeter and the sex so much more mind-blowing than it would have been without this conversation.
Personally, I’m pretty open to discussing sex — hello, hi, I’m Sensuality Coach and quite literally talk about sex to strangers on a podcast as part of my job — so, this wasn’t overly new to me. I’m used to discussing sex with my partners well before it happens, but what I like about this acronym, SHARED, is that it’s a handy framework that I can bring to mind with partners to ensure that we’ve covered all the important things first. And I hope that this is something you can bring into your future conversations as well.
Now, a little caveat: this conversation does not have to be super serious in nature; you don’t have to sit down formally with a powerpoint presentation or anything. Talking about sex can be so fucking sexy. It’s a form of foreplay. Trust me on this. It has an incredible ability to enhance desire.
So, what does the acronym SHARED stand for? I am so glad you asked! Let’s get into it …
S is for Status. What is your relationship status? If you’re in a committed relationship, you’ll likely already have this one established. But if not, this is an important conversation to have.
Are you looking for a partnership?
Is this something casual?
—> This touches on expectations too — this is the E in the acronym, but more on that later.
Are you non-monogamous? And if so, do you have other partner’s?
Are you in an open relationship?
(As someone who is non-monogamous, I believe it’s VERY important that if you are then you need to be upfront about this before getting involved with someone else — that’s the ethical thing to do and, after all, non-monogamy is all about being ethical.)
So, what is your relationship status? That is the S.
Then, the H. H is for Health — specifically sexual health. This one is no joke, it’s SO important that you have an open, honest and judgement free conversation about your sexual health status. Do either of you have a known STI? Have you been tested recently?
What form of protection do you plan to and agree to use? If you’re wanting to have unprotected sex, do you know that you’re both safe? And, if you’re not 100% sure, when are you both intending to have a test before you have unprotected sex?
If there’s a chance of pregnancy and that isn’t on the cards for you, what steps will you take to ensure that you’re protected? Barrier methods, hormonal birth control, fertility awareness. In terms of protection from unwanted pregnancy, this is the responsibility of BOTH parties — I want you to remember that. It’s not just the person who would fall pregnant, so it’s important to take responsibility here.
While talking about sexual health is the most important, I would take the topic of health even further and consider discussing menstrual health, if it applies — knowing where you’re at in your cycle will always impact your sex life. We quite literally change every week. Our cycle impacts how sensitive we are, it impacts our moods of course, it impacts our body temperature … it impacts so much in our body. It’s the fifth vital sign, after all. So, knowing where you’re at is going to greatly impact how your sex will change week by week, month by month.
Whether this is an awareness that you have personally (if you’re a menstruator) or an open discussion that you have with your partner. Personally, I feel very supported when my partner knows where I’m at in my cycle and can really honour that. For example, when you’re ovulating your cervix is higher so deeper penetration is possible — but, the chance of pregnancy is also higher here as well. That’s an important conversation to have. Sex might be different when you’re menstruating because you might feel more sensitive emotionally, you might feel physically more sensitive. You might want to have a discussion about if you’re on your period and if you’re comfortable having sex with your partner while you’re on your period, and vice versa. If they’re comfortable with it as well, I highly suggest it — I mean, I’m all for period sex, I think it’s something that is very intimate and can feel really nourishing with a close partner. Maybe not something that you want to explore with a casual partner, but again, that is entirely up for you to decide!
On the topic of health, you may even need to mention any injuries that are going on that might have an impact. It can be helpful to flag anything before you’re in the middle of the act and you kind of get twisted into a position that messes with an already sore shoulder or something like that. So, health. Having the conversation about sexual health especially is so important. So please, don’t skip this one!
Next is A & R together.
A is for Agreements and R is for Restrictions. Basically, these are your boundaries.
If you’ve listened to episode 11 about boundaries, you’ll have a better idea on what these are all about.
But let’s start with A for Agreements. This is about what you agree upon in regards to your restrictions, or boundaries. Essentially this is where you can share what you need to feel safe and supported — the more open you are and the more trust you have in the other person to hold space for you and honour you, the more pleasure you will inevitably experience.
Then R for restrictions. What is off limits? What’s not on the table? Positions you’re not interested in, types of sex that just don’t do it for you. Here is where you can state your boundaries when it comes to sex. A great way to have this conversation is the ‘Yes, No, Maybe’ game. This goes into desires as well, which is the D, but I’ll talk to you about that later. I’ll do a longer episode about the ‘Yes, No, Maybe’ game at some point, but the idea is pretty simple. You can write up a list of sex acts, toys, fetishes — anything! — fill it out separately and then go through it together. You can choose Yes (being you’re into it, a full body yes), Maybe (meaning you’re intrigued and open to try, but know that you have the option to change it to an absolute N-O and that that no will be respected), or a No (which is a hard no, not up for discussion or persuasion). You go through the list together and all the Yeses and Maybes that match up are on the cards. All the Nos are not on the cards — if there’s one person who has a Maybe and the other is a No, then it’s a No all around.
That’s the gist of that game, and that can be really fun kind of to play and just explore what you are both interested in.
Essentially with the A and the R (agreements and restrictions), you’re going to be agreeing about the restrictions — setting clear boundaries for what’s off limits and being respectful of this.
Then we move on to the E, which is a great place to flow onto from A & R.
E is for Expectations. What are your expectations of this sexual encounter?
Basically, what does this *mean* to you? This is where it relates to S for Status. Is this purely casual, or is there an expectation of continued dating? What does this mean?
If you’re in a committed relationship or a new relationship, are you hoping to connect more deeply with one another through this sex?
This is where, if you practice tantra, you can actually set an intention (either privately or, ideally, together) for what you want to create with this sex. Remember that sex is energy and it’s really powerful, so if you choose to set an intention, you can manifest really amazing things through your sex life.
You can have expectations of your agreements and restrictions being honoured — as they should. And then ask yourself what are your expectations of after-care? After-care being everything post-sex.Would you like to request that you stay in each other’s energy and cuddle for awhile post-sex? That you have breakfast together the next day?
This step is important as it allows you to get clear and avoid creating any story about what things mean. Get clear and on the same page about your expectations. This is really really going to be so helpful to stop you from spiraling and creating those stories that I know you’ve experienced in the past of “They said this, and then they did this, and then they left, and that means this, this probably means this about me or them or us”. And so, if you get clear on what your expectations are of one another and of your sex, then that avoids ALL that bullshit that comes up afterwards … and it’s really really REALLY helpful.
Then finally we come to D for … Desires (get your head out of the gutter, I know we’re talking about sex) — this is the fun part! Opposite to restrictions, desire is where you can voice your fantasies and what you’d like to explore with your partner — how you’d like to be touched, what you’d love them to do to you and what you’d love to do to them. You can be really honest and open here — when you’re clear on what you like, you open yourself up to experience so much more pleasure than if you actually just kept quiet.
So, there you have it: the 6 key conversation starters to have before getting down with a lover.
Let’s recap. The acronym is SHARED — so next time you’re about to get it on, I want you to think, “Hmm, have we had these conversations before? Do we need to bring them back up again? Do I feel clear and comfortable on all of these six points?”
SHARED. S for Status — what is your relationship status? H for Health — specifically, sexual health (STIs, testing, all that). A & R for Agreements and Restrictions — this is essentially your boundaries, but I needed to create an acronym that was like a word that made sense rather than SHBED. Then we’ve got E for Expectations — what are your expectations? (This is where you can avoid creating a story.) And finally D for Desires, the most fun part — to explore what it is that you want to do and feel and explore during your sex.
I hope you found this helpful, and if so, be sure to let me know with a lovely 5 star review, by dropping me a DM over on instagram @eleanorhadley and by screenshotting and sharing this episode on your stories. That would be so amazing, I would absolutely love you if you did that — it’s so wonderful for me to see people sharing the episodes and what you’re getting out of it. Because I’m just kind of sitting in a room, talking into a microphone as I do this, it’s not as interactive, and I’d love to know your biggest takeaways. So feel free to come find me — not physically, in real life, that would be kind of creepy — on the socials and tell me what you loved.
Speaking of coming and finding me, if you are based in Melbourne, I’m gonna be here for the next month or so and I’m hosting at-home workshops where I’m going to teach you all about having the best sex that you possibly can — all about sensuality, self-love, and having mind-blowing sex, sacred sex. I’m doing these at home kind of workshops, and they’re so much fun, I’ve been hosting them recently. It’s a really great way to get your friends together, and just explore something that maybe you already think about but you wanna learn a little bit more about in a nice intimate and safe environment. So if you’re based in Melbourne, let me know and we can organize a party for you and your friends, to talk about all things sacred sensual sex. I’m probably heading up the coast later this year — we’re in 2020 right now, if you’re listening to this in the future — so do let me know, and I can also host these online. You reach you, I’d love to talk to you all about having amazing sex and getting more in touch with your sensuality.
My instagram again is @eleanorhadley and I am going to speak to you next week. Thank you so much for listening, and as always … stay sensual!
Let me know your thoughts!