Setting sexual boundaries is tough. While we live in a time when we don’t have to be ashamed to advocate for pleasure, and the unitive benefits of sex are widely accepted, we still have personal boundaries. And we have to balance our boundaries with our partner’s desires.

How can we set boundaries and advocate for ourselves while expressing deep love for someone? Here are four rules that can help.

Know Your Standards

Identify and communicate what you will and won’t do. If you aren’t married, this conversation should be simple. If he can’t respect you now, things won’t improve after marriage. If you are married, don’t be afraid to make some rules. Remember, we’re given rules to protect us. The “Thou shalt not’s...'' both protect your neighbor and prevent you from living with regret. 

If he wants to do something that you are uncomfortable with, you both have to grapple with that when you wake up the next day. Rest assured there is good reason for your beliefs, and you will be happier in the long run for living by them.

Know Your Worth

You are worthy of the desires of your heart, especially the desire to be loved rightly and purely. Sex should reaffirm your dignity, not degrade it. If you are dating and he pressures you to cross your boundaries, he may not be right for you. If this sounds like your dating situation, I recommend slowing down or taking your time. If you are really into him, you can suggest some spiritual reading, therapy, and engage in heartfelt conversation - but you might just be mismatched.

If you are married and you both want different things from sex, it’s time to have a conversation about it. Even if what he wants isn’t objectively bad, but it makes you feel uncomfortable, his love for you should surpass his desire for pleasure. See my next point:

Discuss Your Sexual Relationship

Discussions about sex should happen before sex starts. Begin by discussing your thoughts or ideas around sex: How do you define it? What were you taught growing up and how does that influence your view of sex today? What sexual actions do you most enjoy and why? What are your limits and why? Talk about what excites you and makes you feel connected. Also, rules can be about what you don’t want and what you really want. Men climax more frequently than women do, and you shouldn’t be afraid to ask him to help you climax, as well.

Find a Solution

When you’re on the same page about what is important to you in sex, you can have a conversation about specifics. Try writing two lists: one for things you are less flexible on (your non-negotiables) and one for things you would be willing to try. This could include time of day, frequency, positions, etc. You should each create and compare your own list, paying attention to overlap. Focus on areas of flexible overlap and try to create a plan that you can both agree to. You can revise the plan anytime in the future. I suggest a monthly check in with a deeper conversation a few times a year. Some conflicts will resolve themselves with time, while others may require prayer and spiritual or mental health counseling. This may seem like a lot for something that should be simple, but trust me - it's worth the investment.

Remember that you deserve to be loved well and rightly, just as you are. You don’t have to “do” anything to keep or receive love. A woman who stands in her dignity is captivating to all who encounter her. Do not fear - you are already loved.

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