NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Saturday, December 9, 2023

How to Make Consent and Sexual Negotiation Fun

I've written about consent and sexual negotiation in previous articles (see my articles: No Means No Isn't Enough. What is Enthusiastic Consent?).

When I talk to my sex therapy clients about consent and negotiation, some of them tell me that having these talks can be boring, at best, or a libido killer at worst.  But I tell them it doesn't have to be that way.

How to Make Consent and Sexual Negotiation Fun

In the current article I'm discussing how to make consent and sexual negotiation fun and sexy.

Many of the ideas for this article come from the sex educator and author, Midori, from a podcast she did on the American Sex podcast with Sunny Megatron (Episode 72).

How to Make Sexual Negotiation Fun and Sexy
Consent is essential to sexual encounters with others.  

How to Make Consent and Sexual Negotiation Fun

Midori emphasizes that a discussion about the possibility of sex must be an engaged collaboration which she describes as actively participating in the collaboration . This means it's not about one person saying what they want and the other person passively going along.  This applies whether it's about vanilla sex or BDSM or kink.

Contrary to what many people think, sexual negotiation can be fun, playful and flirty rather than deadly serious or boring.

Fun and Sexy Consent and Sexual Negotiation Step-By-Step
Fun and sexy consent and negotiation starts with doing groundwork beforehand. So, you can consider the following steps if it suits your particular situation:
  • Clear Your Mind Before Your Talk: Before you talk to your partner, instead of thinking about your to-do list, clear your mind so you're focused on what you want. Put aside thoughts about the laundry, the dishes, your taxes, etc. so you can focus. Being preoccupied with distracting thoughts about other things is a libido killer. A lot of people forget or don't know about clearing their mind beforehand, so they enter into sexual activities being distracted and then they become a spectator instead of being fully immersed in their talk or in their sexual activities. This is called spectatoring (see my article: Are You Distracted Before or During Sex?).
  • Think About What You Want Before You Have the Discussion With Your Partner: Each person needs to think about what they actually want before they even have the discussion.  You might not know exactly what you want, but have an idea of what you want that day.  So, for instance, using food as a metaphor, you might know that you have a craving for Asian food and not Italian food that night, but you're not sure what type of Asian food because there's all different types, including Chinese, Japanese, Korean and so on.  But at least you have an idea.  Also, don't make assumptions about your partner. Using the food metaphor: Just because your partner usually wants steak, don't assume they want steak every time because they might want something different that day.
  • Consider Your Mood Before Your Discussion With Your Partner: Are you feeling sassy, lazy, sexy or something else? That can make a difference in what you want to do.  Are you in the mood for a night of sexual flow where you each take your time or are you in the mood for a quickie with a burst of passion at the end? Being able to communicate this to your partner helps to improving the sexual experience for both of you.
How to Make Consent and Sexual Negotiation Fun
  • Know Your Hard Limits Before the Discussion: While you're having your fun and flirty sexual negotiation with your partner, do you have hard limits? For instance, if you know you have to get up early the next day, you want to let your partner know that, at least for this time, you can't stay up all night.  On another night you might want to have a slow, sensuous, sexy night, but not on this particular night.  And there might be other hard limits, which is why it's important to think about these things beforehand if you think you and your partner might be having sex that night. Or, maybe your neck or back are hurting you so you want to be careful with whatever you do and you communicate this with your partner.
  • Use "We" Language During the Sexual Negotiation: Midori stressed this point as part of the engaged collaboration because you might have a partner who is a passive pleaser, so to avoid having your partner (or yourself) just going along, use the collaborative "we" in your talk.  
  • Approach Your Partner in a Playful, Flirtatious Way: Assuming it's appropriate for your relationship with your partner, make your discussion fun and flirty.  However, if you know that your partner would not respond well to playfulness and flirtation during your discussion, respect that because it would be a turn-off to them. Similarly, don't be overly-flirtatious if you don't know your partner well. You don't want to come across as creepy. Also, be aware of timing and the way you communicate with them on a verbal and non-verbal level. In addition, it's important to be able to pick up on cues from your partner and if you're not sure, ask them (see my article: How to Flirt).
  • Keep an Open Mind, But Don't Do Anything You Don't Want to Do: On the one hand, when your partner is telling you what they want to do, keep an open mind and don't be critical of what they want if you don't want to do it. Criticism is often a libido killer for both people. On the other hand, never feel obligated to do anything you don't want to do.  Unfortunately, some women (and men) feel they must comply with their partner's wishes in order to get their partner to like them. Or they feel obligated to please them. If they suggest something you don't want to do, be tactful in the way you tell them you're not interested in that. If they get offended, this might not be the person for you.
  • Remember: If You're Consenting, You're Consenting to an Experience and Not an Outcome: Midori made a good point in the podcast mentioned above that when someone consents to a sexual activity, they're consenting to the experience and not the outcome. There's no way to know beforehand if the outcome of your sexual encounter will be good, bad or indifferent. You're basically consenting to try a sexual activity with a partner. In some cases, you might be trying a particular sexual activity that you have never done before or you've never done with this particular person. So, be clear about this beforehand. 
  • Never Pressure Your Partner to Do Anything They Don't Want to Do: Consent isn't about pressuring your partner to do what they don't want to do, so never pressure anyone--not even in a way that you think is subtle and never allow yourself to be pressured (see my article: Pressure is Not Part of Negotiating Consent).
  • Discuss Aftercare and What You Want to Happen After Sex: You might not always know everything you want afterwards but, to the extent you know certain things, let your partner know whether or not you want them to stay over and what type of aftercare you want.  Even though aftercare is often associated with BDSM and kink, aftercare is usually important to people who engage in non-kink, vanilla sex too. So, for instance, even if you know you don't want to sleep with your partner after sex, you might know that you like to cuddle afterwards for a little while or talk.  Or, if you know you don't like to cuddle or talk afterwards, let your partner know so there's less of a chance of confusion and disappointment if they have different expectations.
  • Pay Attention to Your Own Feelings and Your Partner's Cues Throughout the Sexual Encounter: As previously mentioned, you and your partner might be exploring sexual activities that are new to one or both of you, so pay attention to your internal experience as well as your partner's cues. Even though you both consented to an activity beforehand, either of you can withdraw your consent at any time if the experience becomes uncomfortable. Don't feel obligated to continue if you or your partner are uncomfortable. You can pause to talk or you can stop altogether depending upon what is needed at the time. Make sure you talk about this beforehand to try to avoid misunderstandings or hurt feelings.
In recent years, there has been pushback and misconceptions about consent and sexual negotiation. But giving and getting consent and negotiating sexual activities doesn't have to be ruin the mood if you both approach it in a fun and playful way.

On the contrary, you can use the discussion with your partner to spice up your sex life and to build trust and a deeper connection, if you want it, between you and your partner.

Getting Help in Sex Therapy
If you're struggling with a sexual issue, you can get help in sex therapy.

Sex therapy is a form of talk therapy (see my article: What is Sex Therapy?).

During sex therapy sessions, there is no nudity, physical touch or sexual activity of any kind (see my article: What Are Common Misconceptions About Sex Therapy?).

Individual adults and couples seek help in sex therapy for a variety of reasons (see my article: What Are Common Issues Discussed in Sex Therapy?).

Rather than struggling on your own, get help in sex therapy so you can have a more fulfilling life.

About Me
I am a licensed New York City psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR, AEDP, EFT, Somatic Experiencing and Sex Therapist.

I am a sex-positive therapist who works with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.