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Your Top Sex Etiquette Questions — Answered

What should I say after sex? Or how do I say I’m not in the mood? Answers to these and other touchy topics below.

By Sari Locker

What should I say—and not say—after sex?

It’s totally common to feel at a loss for words right after an intimate encounter, whether that’s out of pure exhaustion or a little awkwardness. But a few choice words can really enhance the “afterplay.” It’s worth it to speak up, if only to keep your partner from silently worrying, Did my partner enjoy that? You don’t need to say much, just enough to let your lover know that you’re content. Try something simple, like, “That felt so good.” Or, “I felt really connected with you.” Sometimes discussing what you enjoyed more specifically is a good way to steer your partner to your particular turn-ons, which can set the stage for even better sex later on. However, don’t go through a detailed play-by-play analysis—that can detract from the intimacy by making it seem as if you’re judging or grading the sexual encounter.

How do I break it to my partner when I'm not in the mood for sex?

Even the most in-sync lovers can end up in this situation, and it’s a tough one since being turned down can be a blow to your lover’s ego. But there are many ways to say “no” that won’t hurt your lover’s feelings. Try “I’m not in the mood now, but what if I wake you
Just tell your partner, “I don’t think it’s going to happen for me tonight—and that’s OK.”
up in the morning for a sexy surprise?” By scheduling a “sex date” for a time in the future when you know you’ll be energized, you’re not only giving your partner something to look forward to, but are making it clear that the issue is purely timing rather than a lack of attraction on your end.

Is it OK to, um, fake it with my guy if I really don’t think it’s going to happen?

When a woman fakes orgasm, she often does it for harmless reasons, like a desire to avoid hurting her partner’s feelings. While well-intentioned, it can spell trouble in the long run. She’s basically encouraging her guy to do things that don’t really turn her on. The longer a man is fooled into thinking he knows how to please his woman, the worse it’ll be if she finally does 'fess up. My advice: No matter how tempting it may seem to fake it, just tell your partner straight up “I don’t think it’s going to happen for me tonight.” If you want one, show him what turns you on. If you’re fine not having one, then say “I love having sex with you anyway; it still feels really good.” Just make sure what you’re saying is the truth. Your partner might be disappointed, but at least you’re giving him a chance to fine-tune his technique so it does float your boat some time in the future.

How do I ask my partner to try something different, like a new sex position?

Suggesting new activities in bed can add a whole new level of excitement, but be careful: Some partners might interpret your proposal as a sign you’re unsatisfied with what you two are currently doing between the sheets. To lay all fears to rest, frame your new request as a compliment. Say, “Our sex life is so great that I feel I can be really open about my desires.” Then add your new idea, “…and I’ve been thinking it would be fun to try ______. What do you think?”

How much should I tell my new partner about my sex life with my exes?

While it might seem romantic to think you should share everything about your past with your current amour, this may be one situation where the less you say, the better. Why? Because upon hearing the details of what you did in bed with a former flame—as well as
Not ready to be exclusive? You must say so before sex.
where and how often—your present partner may start indulging in some (potentially) painful comparisons. If your new love asks about your in-bed past, avoid puncturing his or her self-confidence by saying something like, “Things were OK/fine in bed, but I’d rather be talking about you and me.”

How and when should I mention to dates that I don’t want to sleep with anyone exclusively?

There’s nothing wrong with playing the field as long as you’re honest about it, and no, that doesn’t mean you have to blurt out “I just thought I’d let you know I don’t want a monogamous relationship” on your very first date. It’s fine, in my book, to wait to see if some chemistry develops, but there does come a point when you absolutely should discuss your attitudes: before you have sex. For many people, sex and commitment go hand-in-hand for the obvious reasons (like to feel intimate and secure—and to avoid contracting sexually transmitted diseases). So it’s only fair to let your prospective partner know the deal. Just say, “I really like you and feel like we might want to have sex some time soon. So it’s only fair to let you know I don’t want to sleep with anyone exclusively right now.” If your partner asks why, chalk it up to a timing issue, like “I’m too young,” Or, “I’ve just gotten out of a long-term relationship and don’t feel ready for a commitment just yet.” Your date may decide to continue seeing you anyway, or he or she may decide to bail—but even if that happens, rest assured, you’ve avoided what would have become a huge mess later on.

When and how should I broach the topic of birth control?

This is definitely not a topic you should politely stay mum about. Ideally, it should be put on the table (by the man or woman) well in advance of the night you’re raring to go. At some point when you two are comfortably kicking back on, say, the sofa, ease into it by saying “You know, I’m really attracted to you and feel like we might have sex soon. What type of birth control do you think we should use?” Then if you need help figuring out your options, you can go to a sex-education website together to sort out your options (like www.plannedparenthood.org).

My girlfriend doesn’t like porn. Is there anything wrong with my looking at it without her?

Many people love using porn to get aroused, either while alone or during sex with their partner. And while it would probably be fairly easy to use it when your girlfriend’s not around, you might want to consider asking her why she dislikes it so much. By hearing her reason, you might actually be able to show her alternatives that you can both enjoy. Perhaps she’ll tell you she finds extremely graphic images a turn-off, in which case there are plenty of alternatives (check for woman-friendly options like videos produced by Candida Royalle). If she finds all pornography a turn-off, that doesn’t mean you have to deny yourself completely. Explain to her that you want to view it by yourself on occasion, reassuring her that it’s not due to some shortcoming in your own sex life, and it will not be on a frequent basis. Ask her to respect your choice and reassure her that you find her entirely sexy. It’s certainly more honest than saying you won’t use it anymore and then having her stumble across your stash or discover your Internet history.

That said, you should always make sure that sex with your girlfriend takes precedence over your use of pornography. If you find that you are using porn more often than you are having sex with her, then you and she need to explore the problem that you could have in your sex life.


Sari Locker is a sex educator, TV personality, and author of the bestseller, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Amazing Sex. She has an M.S. in Sexuality Education and was the host of Late Date with Sari on Lifetime Television. Her website is www.sarilocker.com.
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