by Rachel Wright
I'll be honest with you; I really don't like the term “red flag.” Why? It's become something that people talk about as though it's objective, and the reality is that a red flag to one person may be a big ole green flag to someone else. So, I want to remind you right now that a green flag for someone else may not be for you—and that's OKAY!
However, I do love the term “sex-positive.” But what does it mean?
“Sex-positive” does not mean that someone is just "down for whatever," but rather that someone acknowledges how diverse and beautiful sexuality is and is open to learning about consent, bodies, communication, and more. In fact, sex-positivity has nothing to do with what sexual practices someone participates in or the frequency of those activities. As Gabrielle Kassel—my friend, a colleague, and co-host of the Bad in Bed Podcast—says, "sex-positivity is a way of being that replaces shame with pleasure and judgment with freedom."
Whether someone is allosexual or asexual, they can be sex-positive.
Here are some indicators or “green flags” of a sex-positive person.
SEX-POSITIVE GREEN FLAGS TO LOOK FOR IN YOUR DATE
They embrace their sexuality.
If someone embraces their sexuality, there is a far higher chance they’ll support their partner(s) doing the same. Having this foundation creates a safe space for communication, discovery, and learning—which is exciting because our sexuality tends to be fluid.
The embracing will look different from person to person—and that's the beauty of sexuality! It could mean someone talks openly about sex, likes to try new things, has found the right name for their sexuality, or something else entirely. You’ll know it when you see it.
They practice consent.
Consent in sexual relationships is crucial, because sex can happen before we know someone: their history, trauma, likes or dislikes, triggers, and so on. It's important to ask, because asking makes people feel safe and allows them to speak up for themselves (which gives us space to do the same). I've been in one of my relationships for years, and we still ask for consent—it's an ongoing conversation, necessary, and the kindest thing to do. Also, contrary to popular belief, getting consent is super sexy because it shows care!
When I say “consent,” I'm not just talking about sex. Consent, to me, is a practice that should be used in every area of life, sex included. Asking someone if you can rub their back, kiss them, borrow their coat, or post a picture of them—these are all ways to ask for consent.
They're into open and honest communication.
You might have thought, "duh!"—but hear me out. Open and honest communication is complex, vulnerable, uncomfy, and a practice. It might feel messy and that is okay. This kind of communication takes intentionality, persistence, planning, and attentiveness. It takes all people involved showing up and being ready to participate.
Relationships have components that we have to talk about to work through. It won't always be fun, but it will always be worth it. Finding someone willing to open up, even if they are scared (because we all are sometimes!), is essential because it sets a foundation for you to do the same.
There's a lack of "shoulds" or "supposed tos" in their sexual vocabulary.
"If you were turned on, you should have come."—This, my friends, is an example of what NOT to say. Shoulds or supposed tos, no matter how you swing them, are coated in shame and ickiness. Everyone's bodies function differently and respond to different pleasures. On top of all that, sex isn't measured by an orgasm.
Trust that your partner(s) will tell you what they want, when is enough, and when they want more. If you're unsure, you can always ask!
They don't yuck other people's yums
In case you haven’t heard the term before, “yucking someone’s yum” means passing judgment on their sexual turn-ons. Here's an example of what it means to NOT yuck another person's yum. Say you want to explore booty play, but your partner isn't into it. A positive response would be, "Anal play isn’t my thing, but I really enjoy nipple play. How do you feel about trying that?”
Not yucking someone else's yum doesn't mean you have to abandon all your boundaries—quite the opposite, actually! You respect the other person/people’s differences, quirks, and preferences without disregarding your own needs and comfort. The keyword here? Respect.
If all that feels confusing initially, then ask questions! Ask why they are into what they are into (and offer to explain what you like). Generally, when we are judgmental about something, it's because we don't understand. Asking questions is a fantastic way to deepen intimacy and connection.
Rachel Wright is a psychotherapist with one of the freshest voices on modern relationships, mental health, and sex. Learn more at www.rachelwrightnyc.com or connect in her cozy corner of Instagram, @thewright_rachel.
This post was written by a guest blogger, and all opinions and ideas expressed are that of the author. All ideas included are for educational and entertainment value, and do not constitute medical advice.