The secret to a healthy relationship is understanding the boundaries of physical intimacy and respecting them. Practicing safe sex is not something a couple should need to compromise on; in fact, it is a prerequisite for an intimate relationship. Whether you're committed in a long term relationship or going out casually, intimacy can trigger an avalanche of emotions which for the most part strengthens the bond, but often it can spiral out of hand. It is, therefore, of utmost importance to feel confident and ready before taking your relationship to the next level.
It is a common misconception that safety measures are a hindrance to intimacy. The facts point to the contrary. Peak pleasure can only be attained when both the partners are comfortable with each other. As a rule of thumb, you should neither try something you're not sure about nor force your partner. Safety precautions thus foster an environment where you can trust each other and enjoy a memorable experience.
Communication is the key
For a relationship to flourish, open and honest communication is essential. Make your partner feel comfortable when they are with you. Being vulnerable and opening up to each other isn't a weakness; instead, it peels off the deeper layers of your relationship. It is all right to share your feelings, even if it means talking about your fears, anxiety, unease, and emotional baggage. Be a good listener when your partner is sharing their feelings and open up when it's your turn. It takes patience but ultimately, it will pay off when your relationship blossoms into something beautiful. Sometimes you need to talk about issues that some might consider difficult, like undergoing a diagnostic test for STIs, which brings us to the next talking point- the role of safety in intimacy.
Safety in intimacy is the sign of a healthy relationship
Mutual respect is a critical component of a sustainable relationship. If your partner wants both of you to get tested for STIs and STDs, then it's a good idea to go through with the decision. Often misinterpreted as a question on trust, safety breeds a higher level of trust and faith in a relationship. Encourage conversations about safe and pleasurable intimacy practices and birth control options.
Setting Boundaries is important
A healthy relationship is where your partner understands and respects your decisions and gives you the space you deserve. It is pertinent to set boundaries and limitations to intimacy from the onset of a relationship. While it might come across as unromantic, it promotes a healthy relationship by formulating do's and don'ts which come in handy for expectation management and avoiding potential flare-ups.
Be honest to yourself and your partner
Most people go through life pretending to be someone they are not, to fit into the archetype which societal norms dictate. In a relationship, however, it can be disastrous. If you don't express your needs, wants, and expectations, you're setting yourself and your partner up for failure. Break the mold and let your partner see the real you. The most robust relationships are always built on unabashed honesty, with no fear of judgment.