Negotiating Sex


When you do start the conversation, it is likely you will find the other person has wanted to talk about their ‘turn-ons’ too… but feel just as awkward as you do!

The way you start the conversation will depend on the person and how well you know them. If you don’t want to be direct you may say something like, “what do you enjoy in your sex life?” or mention a website you saw on sexual health. Introduce the topic at a low-key moment, such as while on a walk, during dinner or just after watching a movie.

Communicate your feelings about sex in a clear and positive manner to ensure there are no misunderstandings. Often it is difficult to be assertive when negotiating sex and you may worry about their reaction. Keep in mind that if someone says they don’t want to something, then you have to respect their choice – no pressure, no begging, no manipulation. To find out more about sexual consent click here 

A lot of families or cultures do not speak openly about sex and this can make it even harder to communicate. It is important to remember that your health and happiness is worth whatever feelings of awkwardness a conversation about sex may bring up – so persevere even if you are finding it difficult.

Want, Will, Won’t Activity 

One activity you can do with your partner is to develop a ‘want, will, won’t’ list. Under each heading list as many sexual activities (kissing, hugging, holding hands, hand jobs, fingering, blow jobs, going down, vaginal sex, anal sex, sex toys, sex outside, bondage etc.) as you can:

  • Want: this is what you enjoy and desire most in your sex life.
  • Will: this is what you are willing to do but is not top of your list.
  • Won’t: this is the sexual activities that you are NOT willing to do at all.

It is a good idea to aim for about 30 items under each heading. This helps you think about your sex life, fantasies and desires. It also can help you to explore your sexuality.

Once you have completed your list, swap it with your partner/s and highlight the activities that overlap. Once these are highlighted, negotiate in more detail – such as how often (once a week, on special occasions), or in what circumstances (not when I am tired or sick). This activity can help both of you negotiate and figure out what type of sex life you would both enjoy!

Remember, our sexuality changes over time. So there will be activities you enjoy when you first start having sex which you may not enjoy later, or you may want to try something to see if you would like it. This means that your ‘want, will, won’t’ list may change over time too.

Negotiating Safer Sex

The negotiation of sexual activities also includes discussion of safer sex. Hopefully, your partner will agree with you about the importance of safer sex. If they don’t – try talking about the benefits of using condoms, such as protection against STIs and pregnancy. Also, remind them that safer sex doesn’t mean it has to be less pleasurable. If they have a negative attitude about condoms and safer sex, think about whether they are someone you still want to have sex with. For more information about safer sex click here.

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Our Mission

To minimise the impact and further transmission of HIV, other blood borne viruses and sexually transmissible infections. To reduce social, legal and policy barriers which prevent access to health information and effective support and prevention services.

WA AIDS Council would like to acknowledge the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the Traditional Custodians of this country throughout Australia, and their strength, resilience and connection to land and community. In particular, the WA AIDS Council would like to acknowledge the Wadjuk people of the Noongar Nation as the traditional custodians of the land in which our office is located.


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