Your back is against the wall and your clothes are coming off quicker than a praise wig at spring revival. Your blood is pumping and beads of sweat begin to form across your forehead. It’s. About. To. Go. Down! Screeeeech!!! Wait one minute! Are you even sure you both want to have sex? When you’ve established desire and consent to go forward, there are still some questions that need answers. Before you two even think about getting skin to skin, here are five questions you should probably ask each other before taking that leap.
What Is Your (STD) Status?
According to the Center for Disease Control, African-Americans are the race/ethnic group most affected by HIV/AIDS in America. While there has been a decrease in new infections among African-American heterosexual women, there’s been an increase in new infections among Black men who have sex with men, according to the CDC. There are also at least 16 other sexually transmitted diseases and infections to be concerned about. The last thing you need ruining any groove is burning, itching, or odorous discharges, to say the very least. Don’t feel embarrassed about asking your partner, “When was the last time you were tested for STDs and what were the results?” Don’t be surprised if there is hesitation, as many people are unaware of the types of tests they should request when they visit the doctor. The Mayo Clinic has great suggestions for what types of tests you should get done and when.
What Is Your (Relationship) Status?
It never ceases to amaze me how many people I speak to who don’t bother to ask if a potential partner is in a relationship of any sort. We make an (often wrong) assumption that because someone expresses interest, the person isn’t in a relationship. Two separate studies surveying over 80,000 Americans found that at least 22% of married men and 15% of married women admitted to infidelity. Those numbers increase for the unmarried—57% of men and 54% of women admit to cheating in a long-term relationship. You simply cannot assume the person you’re about to have sex with isn’t already involved, so be sure to at least inquire first. “Are you married? In a relationship? Dating someone?” are simple questions to ask in the beginning. Do people lie? Yes, but at least you asked, and if he or she gets caught, you have plausible deniability on your side.
A few people I spoke with also mentioned asking about sexual orientation and preference. For those for whom this is important, I definitely encourage asking. Not everyone is comfortable having sex with someone who identifies as bisexual/queer, nor does everyone feel comfortable opening up about their sexual identities. A great way to raise this topic is to say, “Hey, I’m all for loving and sexing whomever you like. I just want to know if you practice safe sex, whether it be with men or women.” You won’t come off as judging, which might just make your partner feel more comfortable sharing more about past and/or current sexual behaviors.
Who’s Your Daddy?
The only way to absolutely prevent an unwanted pregnancy is to not have sex. Women can take various forms of birth control and men can use condoms, but none of these methods are 100%. Before you have sex with anyone, you ought to consider if this person is someone with whom you want to have a child, and his/her views on parenting responsibilities. Is your potential partner pro-choice or adamantly pro-life? Does he/she feel financially, physically and emotionally ready to take on the responsibility of bringing a child into the world and raising it into adulthood? If that isn’t enough to cool you down, consider asking, “If we, yes we, become pregnant as a result of what we’re about to do, what are we going to do about it?” If you’re on the same page and comfortable with the responses, by all means proceed with the baby-making practice!
So… What Are We?
While this might be one of the most awkward questions to ever have to ask when dealing with someone, it’s crucial to having a solid understanding of the nature of your relationship. If you’re friends with benefits, F-buddies, dating, or something more, you want to be clear. First, ask yourself: “Am I interested in building something emotionally significant with someone at this time?” Then ask the potential partner, “Do you see us potentially building a serious, committed emotional/physical relationship at some point? Will this relationship be monogamous or open (polyamorous)?”
For many, sex is the game-changer in a relationship, and ignoring the emotional components isn’t a good idea; not everyone can handle having sex with someone and remaining emotionally detached. If emotional involvement is important to you, even if only in general, go ahead and ask the questions that matter before taking things to the next level.
How Do You Like It, Baby?
Sex is supposed to be fun and enjoyable, right? Yes, there are serious questions to consider, but once you’ve reconciled those answers and everything is all good, you should now focus on having the most pleasurable sex you can have. One of the first things I ask a potential partner is whether or not kink/BDSM is an interest. Since it’s something I’m into, I want to know if my partner is open to exploring it with me. It doesn’t have to be that serious though.
A simple question—“Can you tell me three things you enjoy doing during sex?”—can get you started on the right foot. One of the best parts of sex is talking about it, and sexy conversation is as arousing as physical foreplay. Go ahead and send a few sexy texts asking what her favorite position is or if he’s into pulling your hair, especially if you just got your weave done. Sexual compatibility is key to having your best sex, so have fun with these questions and keep them sexy.
The thing to remember is that communication is a must before any sexual encounter. Communication insures that you’re having the safest, mutually satisfying sex possible with someone who shares your views and will handle whatever consequences may come. Who really wants to take unnecessary risks when your biggest concern should be who is going to sleep in the wet spot?
Feminista Jones is a sex-positive Black feminist, social worker and blogger from New York City. She writes about gender, race, politics, mental health and sexuality at FeministaJones.com. Follow her on Twitter at @FeministaJones.