Discussing sexuality in a new relationship
Our language and attitude about sexuality is constantly evolving and changing over time.
Where once certain sexual orientations were considered so unacceptable that they were illegal (something which we think is the truly unacceptable act) many people now feel more confident and capable when it comes to exploring and asserting their sexuality in the world.
And, naturally, this relates to relationships too.
Isn’t It Obvious?
Our previous approach to sexuality in the Western world has led to somewhat of a ‘Well, isn’t it obvious?’ attitude when it comes to sexuality. Those who are heterosexual and going to proposition and start relationships with those of the opposite sex and those who are homosexual with pursue those of the same sex…right?
This is true enough, but what about all of the different colours of sexuality across the sexual orientation spectrum. Two people of the opposite sex might find they like each other with one person in that dynamic being straight and the other being pansexual. Same sex pairings might include a homosexual individual smitten with a bisexual one.
Further than this, someone might find themselves in a relationship with a sapiosexual – someone who is attracted to intelligence – or a skoliosexual – someone who is attracted to gender queer or gender fluid individuals. Then, of course, there are those who consider themselves ‘queer’ and take up a broad palette when it comes to painting their sexual orientation.
The possibilities are as vibrant and varies as sexuality itself is, meaning one can never assume a potential or new partner’s sexuality.
Given this knowledge, it’s natural to wonder how best to discern what a would-be or just forming partner’s sexuality might be. After all, sexuality is just the right side of personal to mean that you don’t necessarily discuss it upon first encountering someone though this, again, isn’t always true.
Flag visuals exist for almost every type of sexuality out there, and if you’re eagle-eyed and lucky enough then you might just notice that the object of your affection is wearing a pin, piece of clothing, or similar that presents the flag revealing their sexuality.
This may sound outlandish but it’s not as uncommon as you’d think – as those from marginalized sexualities are often fighting in a variety of ways to assert their existence in society. Openly presenting offers such opportunities, alongside providing an easy opening for further discussion.
Even if you don’t know what a person’s flag accessory might represent you could always say ‘I dig your [insert accessory here]. What does that flag represent?’ and ease in to a sexuality conversation from there.
If this opportunity isn’t readily available then you might need to be more direct (or at least specific) in discovering your partner’s sexuality by designating a time and approach to asking about it specifically.
This can seem daunting, but here are a few ways we think are helpful:
‘Do You Play For My Team?’
It’s a cliché, semi-cheesy, and very specific approach to take but it’s also a classic.
If you can pull this one off then it’s a really playful one to employ which can then lead to insightful exchanges.
Just make sure that if the initial line invites serious discussion then you drop the cheesy attitude after it’s served its purpose and shift gears to respectful listening and an active dialogue.
Do this and you might just get away with one of the oldest sexuality lines in the book.
Use a Pre-existing Example To Lead In
This could be a TV show, a recent news article, or even a story about a friend you can account. Either way it’s the basic notion of starting a conversation by introducing an example of the topic and elaborating from there.
An example of this would be ‘I see they’re discussing sexual orientation in the news again. Why can’t people be allowed to use the labels they feel most comfortable with without judgement?’
Be careful though: As you can probably tell, this method can potentially open a can of worms.
‘What Drew You To Me Then?’
This is a nice way to start a sexuality conversation because, again, it allows the person questioned to address the topic only if they feel comfortable while also saying specific and giving both of you a chance to be romantic saps.
The best way to side-step this one directly in to a sexuality question is, after they answer, say ‘so are ladies/gents the only gender you’re attracted to?’ in a curious manner and see how they respond.
Typically, if you’ve already gushed about why you like each other, then there’s a good atmosphere to learn more about each other. After all, who wouldn’t want to share more with someone that they think they’re falling for?
Whatever method you use attitude will ultimately define how well things go.
Only approach this topic directly if you are sincerely receptive to know the answer and to learn more about your partner/s as part of your potential relationship progression.
If you feel like you can’t respectfully learn about and accept that persons’ sexuality then it might be worth revising your behaviour and feeling about sexuality before bringing your pre-conceived attitude and approaches to the table with your partner. That’s not their jam, after all, and is instead something to reflect upon personally.
If you are ready to talk sexuality then always try to approach things with an attitude of discovery and genuine interest. Learning about how your partner sees and gains attraction to others is an amazing insight in to their own attitudes to the world.
You never know, it might just leave you loving and appreciating them even more.