How to talk about consent, boundaries, STIs, and more before sex

How to talk about consent, boundaries, STIs, and more before sex

Setting expectations before sexual intimacy

Consent, boundaries, and interests should be discussed openly and respectfully before engaging in any sexual activity. This conversation enables partners to ensure mutual comfort, safety and enjoyment. Approach it with patience, care and maturity.

Why is this conversation important?

Discussing consent and personal boundaries shows respect and care for a partner’s needs. It also reduces miscommunication or unclear expectations that could lead to hurt feelings or trauma. Being on the same page from the start prevents unwelcome surprises.

Tips for having the talk

  • Choose an appropriate time when you’re both relaxed and focused
  • Use clear, direct communication to understand each other’s needs and limitations
  • Be honest but tactful – don’t make assumptions
  • Ask open ended questions and actively listen
  • Agree to share any updates as you continue exploring intimacy

Potential topics to cover:

Consent and boundaries

  • What physical intimacy have you engaged in before?
  • What did you enjoy most or find uncomfortable?
  • Are there any hard boundaries for you?
  • How do you prefer to give and revoke consent?

Contraception and STIs

  • What precautions have you taken in the past?
  • When were you last tested for STIs?
  • What methods would you be comfortable using?
  • Have you been vaccinated for HPV, Hepatitis B?

Desires and interests

  • What do you enjoy during intimacy?
  • Are there any fantasies you’d like to explore?
  • What areas or activities are off-limits for you?
  • How do you prefer to communicate during intimacy?


Why is consent so important?

Consent ensures both partners enthusiastically agree to each sexual act without pressure or coercion. It promotes safety, comfort and mutual care.

How do I bring this up without killing the mood?

Frame the conversation as getting to know each other, not questioning their character. Explain that this discussion will enable you both to relax and enjoy intimacy more.

What if we disagree about something?

Listen respectfully to understand why you differ. Compromise if possible, but don’t pressure your partner beyond their boundaries or breach your own.

How can I communicate boundaries in the moment?

Agree on clear phrases like “let’s slow down” or safe gestures your partner can use if they feel uncomfortable. Check in frequently as you progress physically.

What if things progress without us talking first?

It’s never too late to pause, check-in and discuss each other’s consent and comfort. Don’t make assumptions – better to have an awkward conversation than cross boundaries unknowingly.