When it comes to sex, everyone has their own unique way of doing things. This might include hyper-specific kinks, idiosyncratic acts that circumvent your religion’s laws or exclusively dry-humping using TikTok’s “knee-trick.” But there are also commonalities that most sex-having people will experience at some point during their lives. For example, seeking consent from a partner, navigating the post-sex clean-up, immediately peeing afterwards to avoid a UTI or loudly declaring that you’re about to cum.
These sexual common grounds inspired a discussion on Reddit this week, with one user asking: “What are the unspoken rules of sex?” Some answers were pretty straightforward — like those mentioned above — but came with archetypal anecdotes, like: “The guys who grabs the hand towel is far superior to the guy who just lays there while you dribble to the toilet.” Or: “Lock the door if you’re at nana’s house.”
Some brought up bare-minimum expectations, like consenting before and during, the importance of washing your genitals or making sure to disclose any sexually transmitted infections beforehand. “Even if the other person didn’t ask about your STD history, if you have something, say something,” wrote one redditor.
Others were more specific, though equally familiar. “If they make funny moans during sex, don’t make a comment about it,” read one. “Odds are they’re totally in the moment and trusting you the most at that time.” Another similar comment read: “If you or they fart or queef, just move on like nothing happened.” Some people contested this, saying you should both laugh the awkward noise off. The people of Reddit weren’t so forgiving of silence during sex, however. “Make noise,” one person. “It’s more fun if I know you’re having fun.” Many men famously make no noise in the bedroom, exemplified by this guy’s response: “I, as a guy, am really bad at this. As I near climax I literally stop breathing.”
There were also a bunch of distinct oral-related “rules,” including: “If she says, ‘I’m close,’ do not go fast, slow or anything [else]. Just keep doing what you’re doing,” “If [you’re going] down on her and you’ve just eaten a really spicy meal, make sure to brush your teeth, tongue and wash it all down with some mouthwash,” or, similarly, “If you’re having a nice dinner before a night of romance, skip the asparagus. If you think asparagus pee doesn’t smell good, just wait until you go down on someone after they had asparagus with dinner.”
Those in the BDSM world shared tips like, learn how to choke someone properly to avoid injury (or death), talk about your fetishes beforehand and “respect the fucking safety word.” When it comes to encounters with sex workers, someone just wrote, “Cash upfront.”
But while the thread certainly makes for an entertaining read, there are ultimately no real “unspoken rules” for sex. Everybody has their own preferences, and the only way you’re going to find out what another person needs or wants is by asking them — even if it’s something as small as, “Do you want to sit there covered in cum, or should I fetch you a towel?” (You never know, maybe they like to soak in it for a while!) Furthermore, even “rules” that seem unspoken, like ensuring everyone consents or sharing your STI status, have to be spoken to be enforced. Sex isn’t good because you don’t have to say things to each other — it’s good because you hear each other out when you talk about what you need.
Having said that, the thread did give us one definitive sexual rule for life, though: “Don’t wipe your dick in the curtains.”