Today I was listening to a podcast (link at the base of the page), when the hosts mentioned they'd be discussing '10 questions' they consider good to ask before you reach the point of having sex with someone. I have questions I ask, and my brain started to list them. Then I realised the podcast wasn't going in the same direction. So I paused it and wrote this blog of my own ideas, before jumping back online to hear their list.
i) This isn't a 'definitive list' of questions. The purpose of this blog is to assist others to consider their own questions, and to stress the value of asking any questions at all!
ii) Asking questions can feel very unfamiliar, even counter-intuitive. As an adolescent I was taught that being 'manly' involved automatically knowing what to do and say (and when to) without asking questions. What I have since found to be 'manly' (a word I use as a mere convenience, being well aware of stereotypes and generalisations) is the courage to ask important questions even when doing so feels difficult.
iii) Even if you are comfortable with the idea of conscious relating (discussing the important aspects of your intimacy), there's the consideration of timing. When you are (or may be) starting a new connection, how soon is too soon? Some of the questions I like to ask definitely feel 'too soon' sometimes. Yet, to leave them could easily be too late! I like to be straightforward at such times: "I'm not asking this with any expectation or pressure on you, but if feels like if I don't ask this now it could be too late..." (Refer also to Question 1.)
iv) I don't do one-night stands, so this list won't be entirely translatable into that context. One of my requirements before having sex is to get to know the person over a reasonable period of time (at least a few weeks). To set up a foundation of friendship, communication, and genuine understanding of each other as whole human beings. Before going the next step, which for me (whether a relationship is likely to be long-term or not) is a place of vulnerability and sacredness, no matter what flavor the connection is.
v) It's important to accept, and respect answers that may not be the ones you had hoped for. And to politely and clearly move on if it's obvious that any important aspect of compatibility isn't present.
vi) Asking sensible conscious questions isn't a guarantee of getting everything right, but they do hugely increase the chances of everyone feeling respected, appreciated and engaged with, and they support boundaries not being crossed inadvertently.
Q1) Does this person appear to be someone who will appreciate that I am into conscious relating, and be happy to talk about at least a few basics before we go far into intimacy?
(If they aren't, then I'd be moving away at this point. Conscious communication is massively important to me.)
Q2) Does this person have both the opportunity and desire in their life for broadly the same kind of connection I feel I would want/need in order to engage with them?
(Personally I have zero interest in trying to convince someone of this if it's not a clear and desirable outcome for them! Nor of being a burden on someone's time.)
Q3) Are they a relatively intelligent, emotionally stable, independent and self-soverign individual?
(As opposed to someone who is likely to give up responsibility for their own core emotional needs if we begin an intimate relationship, or someone who needs to be drunk in order to relax into connection.)
Q4) As well as a sense of sexual compatibility, does this connection feel personally meaningful, or am I only attracted physically and/or energetically?
(Once upon a time the answer to this wouldn't have mattered so much, but these days I'm only interested in some degree of deeper substance - for everyone involved.)
Q5) Do we get along and communicate in grounded ways that support a healthy and relaxed appreciation of each other as real and sensitive human beings?
(Rather than overly-romantic, idealised, or perfectionist 'conditioned expectations'.)
Q6) How am I likely to feel immediately after, and in the days and weeks after, having sex with this person, and what sense do I have of how they are likely to feel?
(However long the connection lasts, does it feel like there are really good vibes between us, and some rich potential to explore?)
Q7) What kind of connection/s feel appropriate with me, if things keep evolving between us?
(Without trying to bury the spontaneity with expectations, are we broadly on the same page?)
Q8) Do you have any lovers currently? If 'Yes', how might they feel if you engage with me intimately?
(I'm a little polyamorous, though I prefer focus and commitment with the possibility of longer-term connection.)
Q9) Do you have any very recent ex's who might be strongly affected if I start connecting with you? Or is there anyone in your life who might believe they are currently cultivating a connection with you that might lead to an intmate relationship - even if you don't want that?
Q10) Are you OK to have a conversation about sexual health and using protection?
(One of those questions that may seem to be too soon, or break the mood, but can easily be left too late!)
Q11) Do you feel comfortable in a relationship where everyone is responsible for talking openly about any significant challenges that arise?
(Rather than engaging in soap-opera relating where people don't communicate about important things.)
Q12) If we engage in any committed way, how do you feel about creating conscious relationship agreements, so we can feel safe and supported by each other, yet still have opportunities to express ourselves in the world?
(This question feels worth asking just in passing in the early days. Formal relationship agreements usually aren't necessary when first 'dating', as long as basic clarity is present. At least not in monogomous connections.)
Arven (3rd Jan, 2017)
And here's the link to the podcast that inspired this blog.