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How to set boundaries during sex

Knowing what you and your partner are comfortable with can create a more enjoyable experience for everyone


Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in sex-relationships


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Boundaries are important when having sex. Setting a boundary means deciding what you are and are not comfortable with and communicating this to your partner. It also means giving them the chance to set their own boundaries, and respecting whatever decision they have made. 

When engaging in sex, it’s important that everyone involved can relax and enjoy themselves. If someone feels like they are doing something they’re not really comfortable with, this can become an issue of consent.

Setting boundaries is one way you can discuss your sexual needs with your partner. It can also start a conversation about consent.

How to set boundaries

Setting boundaries involves communication and respect. It can take time to figure out exactly what you’re comfortable with, so keep this in mind and try to regularly check in with yourself. You should also check in with your partner to make sure they are happy with what you are doing.

Deciding what you’re comfortable with

Knowing what you like and don’t like can take time and exploration. Talk to your partner about what you’d like to try and ask if they would be okay with that. You don’t have to do anything you feel you’re not ready for.

If you try something and you don’t like it, you can ask them to stop at any time. You don’t have to continue on with something you’re not comfortable with. Agree with your partner beforehand that you will both stop if one of you is not enjoying it.

Find out more about talking to your partner about your sexual needs.

Communicating with your partner

Taking time to talk about these things outside of the bedroom is a good thing. It gives you an opportunity to talk about your needs in a neutral space without any expectations. Finding the time to have these conversations can help with setting boundaries.

However, communication doesn’t stop once you’re back in the bedroom. Consent is about making sure your partner is comfortable at all times, by asking or reading their body language. Everyone has the right to change their mind at any time, so it’s important to keep checking in with your partner.

Boundaries can change

How we feel about sex can change over time. As time goes on, you might decide you want to try something new, or you may have different partners who are interested in different things. It’s okay to change your mind about what you’re comfortable with and try new things.

This can also mean changing your mind about something you used to be comfortable with, but don’t want to do anymore. There’s no reason why you have to continue doing something just because you did it in the past. This applies whether you’re with the same partner or with someone new.

Find out what you can do if your partner says they no longer want to have sex.

What to do if someone crosses a sexual boundary

If you’re being intimate with someone and they do something you’re not comfortable with, let them know. Ask them to stop and explain why you’re not comfortable with what’s happening. It’s up to you to decide whether or not you want to continue with something different or if you want to stop altogether. It’s okay to say no, and you do not need to feel guilty about it.

If they don’t stop

If someone continues to do something after you’ve told them you don’t want to, or if you're being forced into something and you’re too scared to say anything, this is sexual assault. This can be incredibly distressing and it is normal to feel upset or confused after something like this happens. 

If you have been sexually assaulted, there is support out there. The Rape Crisis Centre offer a 24 Hour Helpline 1800 77 8888 with a confidential listening and support service for women and men who have been raped, sexually assaulted, or sexually abused at any time in their lives.

Do you need someone to talk to right now? SpunOut.ie’s text message support service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We provide in-the-moment anonymous support and problem solving when you need it most.

Text SPUNOUT to 086 1800 280 to begin. Standard SMS rates may apply.

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Published Feb­ru­ary 6th2020
Last updated Novem­ber 30th2020
Tags sex positivity
Can this be improved? Contact editor@spunout.ie if you have any suggestions for this article.

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