Sex – it’s obviously a topic that’s very important to you if you’re in a romantic relationship. However, it’s also one of the toughest subjects to discuss in depth with a partner, even if you’re totally open and sex-positive in general. You especially worry about hurting your partner’s feelings, especially if what you want to discuss involves asking them to change or adjust their bedroom behavior.

Even so, regular discussions aboutsex are an essential part of any happy, healthy sexual relationship. They bring the two of you closer together and ensure that both of you are perfectly satisfied in the bedroom. They help you make sure things stay that way as time rolls on as well. That said, the following discussions are especially important. Make sure you and your partner cover each of them at one point or another.

1.      Sexual Health

This is a topic most long-term couples will probably already have touched on at some point, as it’s just that important. New or potential couples that are just getting to know the basics about one another, on the other hand, may still be beating around the bush. They know it’s a must-have discussion. They’re just not sure how to bring it up or when.

If you and a special someone have officially reached the point where you’ve acknowledged a mutual attraction, it’s also a good time to have the sexual health talk. Yes, sexual health, AIDs, and STIs are serious topics, but that doesn’t mean the conversation has to be serious and somber as well. Keep things light and non-threatening so that both of you remain comfortable instead.

Not sure how to breach the subject? Open the conversation really casually by sharing your own background first and then prompt the other person to follow your lead. “I’ve been tested since the last time I was with someone new. What about you?” Then take it from there. Just stick to the actual topic of sexual health. You don’t need to know or ask about the other person’s “number” (unless you both want to discuss it for whatever reason).

2.      Sexual Commitment

Although it seems as if this is one of the first sex-related conversations a couple would have, you’d be surprised how many never even think to bring it up until it becomes a problem. People tend to assume that if they’re interested in a fully committed, monogamous relationship that the other person is too. On the flip side, those that are looking for a no-strings-attached, casual fling tend to take it for granted that’s what all relationships are until the two people involved sit down and definitively decide otherwise.

Don’t simply assume. Be up front and honest about what type of relationship you’re really looking for. Are you ultimately interested in something more serious or do you like keeping things casual? Do you want to be friends with benefits or are there more serious feelings involved? Do you prefer non-monogamous relationships, even if you are interested in a commitment?

This is a good conversation to have on an ongoing basis as your relationship evolves as well. This is especially the case if you’ve recently decided to try something new (i.e. exploring open relationships and activities like swinging that may be new to one or both of you).

3.      Turn-Ons and Turn-Offs

Discussing what really gets both of you going in the bedroom can be tough or uncomfortable, but it’s ultimately a talk you’ll both be glad you had. Sex with a partner that knows exactly how to touch you and that you know exactly how to please in return is way too good to miss out on! It’s helpful to know what moves not to make with a given partner as well.

Don’t make the mistake of having this discussion while you’re actually being intimate though, especially the part about sexual turn-offs. People are too vulnerable right there in the moment, making it really easy for well-meaning requests or feedback to be taken the wrong way. It’s a lot better to simply bring the topic up some other time.

To avoid any awkwardness, try reframing requests and/or negatives as positives. “You’re so hot and I love having sex with you. I’ve been thinking that I’d love to try this. What do you think?” You can also make sure to share a turn-on every time you really want to bring up a turn-off. Alternatively, if the two of you are open to a lengthier, more in-depth discussion on the topic, you could each make a “no judgment” list of all your biggest turn-ons, trade lists, and then discuss each item on both lists together.

4.      Frequency and Sex Drive

If one partner wants it twice a day while the other would be fine with twice a month, problems are bound to arise sooner or later. The partner that wants it more often can feel frustrated by what seems like their partner’s lack of attraction to them. The partner that wants it less can feel as if the other person only has one thing on their mind.

Don’t wait to discuss things until one of you is so frustrated with the situation that you blow up at the other. Talk frankly about it now and come up with a compromise that both of you can be happy with. For instance, a sex schedule (as unsexy as it may seem) can work wonders. Experts recommend sharing an intimate experience at least twice a week, but ultimately you and your partner should choose whatever frequency works for the both of you.

Turn sex nights into rituals you both look forward to for various reasons. Make them part of whole romantic evenings that include dates, delicious dinners prepared at home, or anything else you both enjoy. Make special encounters extra spicy by shopping for new toys, lingerie, or bedroom gear together beforehand.

5.      Fantasies

While it’s fine for sexual fantasies to simply be delicious secrets you keep to yourself, you shouldn’t underestimate the value of also sharing them with your partner. Spilling the beans in regards to something indulgent that gets your engine revving potentially brings you and your partner closer together. It also gives that special someone the opportunity to plan a really nice surprise for you in the future.

This is another area where taking the time to list and catalog the options might be helpful for both of you. After agreeing that neither of you will pass judgment on the other, each person should sit down and craft a list of desires and fantasy acts they’d be open to trying in reality. Then compare notes and come up with a master list you can potentially draw from in the future when you’re in the mood to kick things up a notch. In the event one of you is super passionate about trying something specific and the other person isn’t into it at all, come up with a compromise.

For instance, let’s say one of you absolutely loves the idea of having sex in very public places and the other doesn’t. What about getting busy on the balcony or porch under cover of darkness instead… or letting things get steamy in the back seat of your car? Alternatively, maybe one of you is super interested in playing out Fifty Shades of Grey in real life but the other isn’t. How about forgoing a full-blown Red Room of Pain in favor of some light bondage gear for your bedroom or some red hot fetish wear instead? You get the picture.

6.      Cheating

Infidelity is another concept that seems black and white on paper to most people, but often isn’t in practice. What counts as cheating to one partner may be well within the realms of “good innocent fun” to the other. As with topics like commitment, it’s also best discussed before any sort of conflict has a chance to arise.

Start by making a list of all the things you consider to be cheating (and to what degree). Have your partner do the same. Then sit down together to discuss both lists and decide where you’ll draw the line as a couple. Is dancing OK, but not touching? Are hugs OK, but not kissing? How do each of you feel about flirting, contact with ex-lovers, porn, or even platonic friendships with other people?

While you’re at it, you should also touch on the topic of tech. Will the two of you be sharing passwords and social media log-in information? What will your policy be about using such information? Where are the lines going to be drawn as far as Internet social interactions versus traditional online ones?

7.      Masturbation

Although it’s fine if you and your partner prefer to keep solo play off the table as far as discussion topics, learning to treat it like the normal, healthy thing that it is might be a better idea. You’ll never have to worry about the possibility of your partner having a meltdown if they accidentally stumble across your beloved Rabbit vibrator, find your Fleshlight, or accidentally walk in while you’re giving yourself a hand.

Take turns sharing in regards to how you each like to please yourselves when the urge strikes. Consider sharing any toys you use and inviting your partner to participate if they like as well. Plus, self-pleasure – whether or not toys are involved -- can be an extremely enjoyable thing to enjoy together as a couple. Why not explore the possibilities?