Let's Talk About Sex, Baby: How to Talk to Your Partner About Your Sexual History

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So you want to talk about sex? Well, we actually won't be talking about sex. Instead, we're going to be talking about something that somehow seems even more awkward: talking about sex. And yes, this will probably get personal.
Here's the short version:
  • Be respectful, truthful, and open.
  • Grant kindness and understanding to both yourself and your partner.
Regardless of how long you and your significant other have been together, you may come to a point where you decide you want (or need) to have the talk about your sexual pasts. If you're someone who gets uncomfortable talking about sex, you could be wondering where to start. Well, don't worry, Loverlies! We've got you.

Does my partner need to know my sexual history?

The short answer to this question is yes, but don't think that sharing your sexual past means that you have to share every little detail. You don't need to tell people about every part of your first time or the exact number of times you've tried a certain position. But communicating information about your sexual history is an important part of building a partnership and a life with someone. This is a time where communication is key, as you want this conversation to take a path that is right for both of you.

I don't feel comfortable talking about my past sexual experiences. What do I do?

There are plenty of reasons why you might want to keep certain parts of your past private. However, if you are entering into a sexual relationship with someone, you should consider what parts of your experience may be relevant to your new partner. This may include things such as actions you like or dislike during sex, your sexual health history, or even ways that you'd prefer your partner tell you that they're "in the mood."
Sharing your sexual history is about providing a framework for support, respect, and intimacy. You may decide that one big conversation about sex feels too high-pressure for you and you'd prefer regular check-ins instead. Figure out what's right for you and make sure to communicate with your partner every step of the way.

It's important to me to know my partner's sexual history, but they seem reluctant to share. What do I do?

First of all, it's important to respect anyone's boundaries regarding their sexual history. Sex is personal, and we all have things from our past that we are uncomfortable or unsure about having other people know. Make sure that you are entering any conversation about sex respectfully and back off when someone you're talking to appears uncomfortable.
If you want to know more than what your significant other is readily willing to share, find a time to express why it feels important for you to have this information. Even if they don't end up answering every question you might have, it will still give both of you an opportunity to share your feelings and have an open and honest conversation about the emotions that sex (and talking about it) brings up for both of you. If you're planning on being in a relationship long-term with this person, that information can be incredibly helpful in knowing what your partner might need to be comfortable in future conversations.

Key takeaways: Be respectful, truthful, and open.

How many people is too many people?

Something incredibly important when discussing sexual history is acknowledging the stigma that surrounds sex—and conversations about it. It can be challenging to turn off questions like this in your head, but hopefully, you and your partner can come together with mutual respect for each other's sexual histories and minimize any judgment. Sexual stigma is very real and is perpetrated by media representation of "traditional" sexual experiences, so be sure to not impose these expectations on your significant other.
Everyone has different boundaries, and one partner may feel more comfortable than the other to talk about past relationships. Regardless of your comfort level, it's important to take a moment right now to truly hear us when we say that your experiences are valid, no matter what they include.

What do I do if I've had more sexual partners than my partner?

Your number of past sexual partners is just that—a number. When you talk about your sexual history, you may not want to share that exact number. As long as you are honest and open about sharing pieces of your sexual history that truly matter to your current relationship—such as likes, dislikes, STIs, and general sexual health—it's okay to keep some things private and not get too specific.
However, if you decide that you want to share more, use your best judgment about what is both healthy and helpful information to share. You should never feel pressured to share more than what you're comfortable with, but you may want to share more naturally as time goes on and you feel more comfortable with this person in your life.

What do I do if my partner has had more sexual partners than me?

If this is true, remember to grant your significant other the same courtesies that you would want to be given to you in that situation. Avoid comments like "That's so many!" or "Wow, you must have really slept around in college," that might prevent them from sharing in the future.
If knowing this information makes you insecure or nervous about your future experience with intimacy, it may help to have an honest conversation where you can share those feelings and ask for help in navigating them. Remember, the point of talking about your sexual history is to share equally and find ways to support and respect each other. And always remember that the two people that matter most in your relationship are you and your partner, no one else.

Key takeaways: Grant kindness and understanding to both yourself and your partner.

We hope this has been helpful in getting you to start to think about talking about your past sexual relationships with your significant other. In our opinion, this conversation can be a lot like sex itself: a little awkward at first, but ultimately, the intimacy will bring you closer together.
Gracie Griffin
About The Author
Freelance writer.
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