What Does It Really Mean To Set Sexpectations In A New Relationship?

Although sex isn't the most important part of a relationship, it's still a key component of a healthy partnership. When we have sex, our body releases oxytocin — the love hormone — and it brings people closer together, not just physically but emotionally and mentally. While relationships can exist without sex and rely mostly on companionship, if that's what both partners want, sex is a building block to intimacy and something that should be discussed whenever you enter into a new relationship.

According to a 2018 study, not only is the emotional intimacy that comes from sex good for a relationship in the present, but it maintains sexual desire in partners for the long term — the greater the intimacy, the greater the desire for each other. It's because of this that talking about sex, or rather having "sexpectations" and discussing them, is so fundamental to a relationship. If you can't be honest early on about what you want from your partner on a sexual level, then you can't expect those sexpectations to be filled, nor can you expect that conversation to be easier as the relationship progresses. 

It's essential to know that you're on the same page about sex, especially in regard to how important it is to a relationship, before moving forward and making a commitment. The sex conversation may not seem super paramount when you're first getting to know each other and can't keep your hands off each other, but because the lust stage of falling in love doesn't last and the attachment stage is inevitable, you want to know how that will be handled and how important that dwindling desire will be for each other — it's simply a realistic topic to address. 

How to talk about sexpectations in a relationship

Human sexuality is complicated. Not everyone has the same libido, nor does everyone have the same interest in certain sex acts. While stereotypes dictate that men have higher sex drives and the only "good" sex is when both partners end up having an orgasm, that's not necessarily true. Women can have just as high or even higher libidos than their male partners, and good sex, even amazing sex, doesn't have to end in climax.

"There are a million reasons why we choose to be sexual, ranging from wanting intimacy, for excitement, to relieve boredom and to feel attractive," psychosexologist Dr. Karen Gurney tells Refinery 29. "Many of these motivations can give us pleasure without getting anywhere near orgasm. It's useful to think back to your last sexual experience. Which moments of the encounter are you remembering? It might be the moment of orgasm, but it might also be a look from a sexual partner, a sexual act you found erotic, the kissing, the way they made you feel, all kinds of things apart from orgasm that made it extremely pleasurable."

When you take a step back and realize what sex — good or bad — looks like to you, then you can bring that knowledge to your sexpectations conversation with your partner. You can openly address what works for you and what doesn't, as well as how often you'd ideally like to have sex, what sort of sexual kinks you have stashed away, and your plan of attack for when the lust stage begins to fade. In turn, you can learn the same from your partner, mapping out the best sexual road map for your relationship. 

Why you should set sexpectations

While not everyone is comfortable talking about sex, if you're going to do it, then you should be able to at least communicate some of your feelings on the subject. This is particularly the case when dating someone new. If they're just in it for sex and you're in it for something that's sex and everything else, then that should be made clear, so there's no resentment or hurt feelings. If the person you're dating can only enjoy rough sex or BDSM, and that's not your thing, that's something that should be discussed so you don't waste each other's time. Contrary to what was read in "Fifty Shades of Grey," it's not exactly easy to convert someone into thinking your Red Room of Pain is as desirable as you do. That's why you need to broach these subjects, ideally, in the first few dates. 

"If you're into certain things, it's OK to be upfront," certified dating and relationship expert Lisa Concepcion tells Elite Daily. "Asking an open-ended, question such as, 'Tell me what you're into sexually,' is enough to get some telling feedback."

Having sexpectations is a normal part of being a human being with a sex drive. There's nothing wrong or even remotely unnatural about wanting to talk about sex in a new relationship. In fact, it's more important than we tend to realize. Sex, or non-sex, can be a dealbreaker for some, so it's best to cover the topic, forward and backward, before letting yourself completely fall for someone. You don't want to find yourself in love with someone who doesn't share at least some of your ideas about sex because untangling yourself from that can be heartbreaking and messy.