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Setting the bar for sex and intimacy: Green flags to look for

silhouette of a couple kissing in front of a sunrise

By Alleah Boisvert

Dating can be frustrating, exciting, heartbreaking, awkward and amazing. But when sex is thrown into the mix, relationships can get even more complicated. For some people, sex is a huge part of romantic partnerships, and the way people treat their partners in the bedroom can be an indicator of how they approach intimacy and boundaries in other aspects of dating. Of course, everyone has different boundaries and expectations, but here are some green flags to look out for while getting it on.

Consent is key

When hooking up with someone new, pay attention to how often your partner discusses consent. A sexual partner that is mindful and respectful of boundaries will continue asking for consent all throughout the interaction. Asking questions about touching certain areas or doing certain things is definitely a green flag, especially since boundaries can change at any time. Consent should be clear, continuous, active and mutual. It should NEVER be assumed.

They don’t skimp on the foreplay

Foreplay is the catalyst for good physical and emotional sex. If a sexual partner starts things slow with a steamy make-out session and doesn’t initiate any penetrative activities until the other is physically and emotionally ready, this shows patience and the desire to have fun and bond.

They also don’t skimp on the lube

Lube is for everyone! Even if people  assume their partners are “wet enough” without it, sex with lube can prevent injuries and make penetration (and other activities) more pleasurable. Not everyone’s body produces natural lubrication in the same way, so when a partner isn’t afraid to suggest grabbing a bottle of lube it shows they are mindful and aware of the other person’s body.

They want to talk about it before and after

Discussing sex before it happens can be awkward, but asking someone about what they like and what they expect in the bedroom shows signs of a great communicator. If they want to talk about it after to find out what went well and what didn’t, they’re willing to learn and improve to make things even better next time. Plus, talking about your likes and dislikes can be great foreplay! 

Using contraceptives and getting an STI check is no question

Signs that a partner takes pride in their sexual health and the health of others is a huge green flag. Talking about STIs can be scary, but many people have experienced them in some way–they are a lot more common than you think. There’s no shame in discussing with a partner what to expect when it comes to contraceptives and getting checked for STIs. If they are kind, patient and open about it, this shows they’re good at having hard conversations and planning for the future.

A little awkward? No problem!

Obviously, it can be super embarrassing when bodily functions take over during sex. A person who makes their partners feel comfortable and unashamed during an awkward moment is a sign that they’re kind and empathetic. Making a partner feel comfortable and unashamed during an awkward moment demonstrates empathy and kindness. It shouldn’t be a mood killer if someone needs to stop to drink some water, go to the bathroom, or pause for any reason and get more comfortable.

Your pleasure is their pleasure

It’s no fun hooking up with someone who gets theirs and then calls it a day, especially if it becomes a regular pattern. Mutual pleasure, whatever that looks like, should be the bare minimum. No one likes a selfish lover! Making sure that everyone involved is having a great time should (ahem) come naturally.

They listen

Attention to detail can be extremely sexy. When a partner pays attention to what you enjoy, and stops doing what you don’t? Green flags everywhere. 

Everyone expresses sexual intimacy in different ways, so these green flags aren’t an end-all be-all when it comes to romantic interactions and potential relationships. Although these are all great things to experience in a sexual situation, it’s important to make sure everyone is on the same page emotionally. Healthy boundaries and clear communication are the biggest green flags in any dating scenario.

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