How can I bring up sex respectfully?


crankywithout_coffee asks:

We’ve been going out for a little more than a month, but we’re not official yet. The last two dates have ended at my apartment, where we proceeded to make out in my bed. Things got heated, but every time I make a move to take off her pants, she gently stops me. I understand that no means no, and I respect her boundaries, immediately stopping in both cases. Since we haven’t spoken openly about our sexual desires and boundaries, I’m wondering if now is the time to do that and how to bring it up. I feel ready for sex, but she apparently doesn’t, and I just want to see if it’s a “not yet” response or a “not ever” response. 

She did tell me the second time that she was on her period so that might be the reason. The other thing is that she’s younger (I’m 26, she’s 20) and I get the feeling that she’s inexperienced, maybe even a virgin. Any input would be great, especially on how I can speak openly and honestly about my feelings and give her space to do the same.

Demetrius says:

You kind of, sort of, have the right idea about what to do next, but that idea has come much later than it should have.

For starters, let’s talk about what drove you to consider that maybe, just maybe, you should have a conversation about sex before you actually have sex. We’ve all been on a date or two where things get hot and heavy, and we made a decision based on our libido that we don’t necessarily regret, but was definitely not the best move. In your case it was trying to initiate sex before actually discussing whether or not this person wanted to have sex. I get why you (and a fair amount of men) try to initiate sex this way, and it’s not inherently bad, but it’s also a shitty thing to do, you know? Besides coming off as coercive, and the fact that you’re just sort of groping around without permission trying to undress someone, doing things to people without asking because their permission is implied is rude as hell. Let’s say you went to see a band and it’s standing room only. You’ve picked out the perfect spot in the crowd, when people walk in front of you to get through the crowd you do the polite thing by stepping back and letting them by, then stepping back into the spot you were standing in. Now imagine you gave someone space to walk by, and then that asshole just stands directly in front of you, without asking, obstructing your view. It’d be pretty annoying right? Glad you agree, because that’s basically what you did. Sure, you might have thought of it as reading the situation and acting based on what you assumed were clear signals to proceed (Went on a date + making out + on your bed = She MUST want to sleep with you!) but instead of asking “Is it cool if I take off your pants” or “Do you want to do stuff with our genitals” or whatever else, you just decided to do a thing you thought you could based on your mood and you got rebuffed. It was a bad move, and I’d try to avoid doing this in the future. At the very least, you’re on the right track by wondering about asking for permission.

For future reference, just keep this in mind: You should talk about sex with someone before you have sex with them. I want to be clear here and say that you need to have a talk about  sex, not a sexual talk. You definitely shouldn’t have tried to initiate sex without asking, because that leaves a lot of topics uncovered which might be important such as: Setting boundaries, finding out her STD/STI status or disclosing your own, discussing preferences, ensuring that your date doesn’t feel trapped or coerced into sex, and so on. Again, this discussion is not sexual, but you can bring sex up in a way that conveys that you want her to be comfortable, enjoy the experience, and would like to know if it’s even an option that’s on the table. Maybe she is a virgin, or maybe not, but that shouldn’t change the conversation. The conversation shouldn’t be about how ready you are for sex, it should be about whether or not it’s an option and if so, how she’d like for things to go.

With that said, it’s might be too early to have this sex talk. Here’s the thing about having the sex talk, you also need to be prepared for the “Where do you see this going” talk. If you’re ready for sex as you say you are, you might want to make sure you’re ready to make things official, or at the very least have an answer for the question when she asks you where you see things going. I’m not saying that you have to be in a committed relationship before you have sex, but generally people associate sex with relationships so if you don’t want to have a Relationship Defining Talk yet (which, btw, you can listen to a podcast episode with advice on the subject by clicking here) you might want to hold off on the sex talk. Your decision to make of course.

Besides that, seriously, avoid doing the wordlessly-try-to-remove-a-girl’s-pants-without-checking thing because it can be incredibly coercive if she isn’t interested in sex. Consent is should be the first step before removing pants, or anything else that might lead to sex. You might think it kills the mood to ask for permission, but nothing kills the mood for women more than worrying that they aren’t safe in your bed.

Good Luck Out There.

6 thoughts on “How can I bring up sex respectfully?

  1. This guy sounds creepy to be honest. Why is he dating a 20 year old when he’s 26?? I don’t think the 6 years is the big deal, but rather the very different stages of life you’re at when you’re 20 and 26 (it’s not the same with 30 and 36 obviously).

    And he doesn’t care to make it official yet wants sex with a much younger girl? Hmmm …… the signs are not indicating a genuine guy.

    Aside from that, great advice as always!


    • Yeah the 26/20 thing always raises the question of why, but I usually just give them the benefit of the doubt and assume it isn’t dating younger purely out of opportunism. That said, yeah…I think his desire to sleep with a 20 year old is probably genuine, but anything else is obviously up in the air.
      Glad you liked the advice 😀


  2. yeah he sounded young to me. I def think hes going to have to speak up about where this is headed hes dating her but not in a relationship she may be hesitant to have sex without that talk. but other wise always great advice


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