You may have heard about using a safe word during sex for the first time while reading Fifty Shades of Grey, or you may have already had one with your partner for your entire relationship. While some make jokes about having a safe word or may think it’s not necessary, it’s a fast and easy way to let someone know you need to stop what’s happening immediately.
It can be a tough conversation to have, but the pros for having it outweigh the few minutes of awkwardness.
Caleb Backe, a health and wellness expert for Maple Holistics, tells SheKnows there are several reasons having a safe word can not only improve our sex lives but save us from difficult conversations and situations down the road.
It’s easy to get caught up in the moment
First, we all know it’s very easy to get overly excited and caught up in the moment when it comes to having sex. You may be misreading the signs your partner is giving you, and one little word can stop this from happening. Backe says a safe word is especially important if you are into things such as role-playing or BDSM. This is supposed to be enjoyable, and taking things too far can end up harming your partner.
Sometimes you just need a break
A safe word can be a great way to say you’re too tired and need a break or the position hurts.
It builds trust
When a special word is designated, you both know you can fall back on it yet still let go. Then in the future, you know your partner’s limits and they know yours. You can feel safe dabbling in some of your favorite fantasies because you don’t have to worry about how hard it can be to communicate your pain threshold or what feels great during times you’re not actively engaging in sex. “There is nothing more erotic than knowing you can live out your sexual fantasies with someone and have the guarantee of being safe in the process,” Backe notes.
Many of us keep quiet
While this is the case mostly for women who agree to things like penetration before they are actually ready, “one of the biggest secrets of sex that nobody talks about it in our society is the phenomenon of painful intercourse,” Helena Nista, a sex coach and sex therapist, tells SheKnows. Many times we think, “Oh, I’ll be fine.” Meanwhile, our partner has no idea we are feeling uncomfortable, in pain or disturbed by something they’re doing.
You can hurt someone unintentionally
And because we are not speaking up about it, we can get hurt during sex or even hurt someone unintentionally. Nista says she hears a lot of women commenting on this but adds men struggle too and have “reported having experienced pain when the woman is on top and is moving too quickly up and down.” It’s also possible for the erect penis to bend a certain way and cause a lot of pain.
When in doubt, use traffic lights
Nista recommends using the colors of a traffic light as a guide. You can say, “Green,” for “Yes, that feels fantastic. I want more.” And you can say, “Amber,” to let your partner know to proceed with caution and “Red,” to let them know to stop immediately. These are easy to decipher, and the plus side is you can communicate to each other about what feels great if you aren’t into sexy talk.
Some may feel silly for doing this, but think about how we express pain in other areas of our life without the shame. Yet admitting it when it comes to being intimate can make us fear our lover will think we are “inadequate in the bedroom or [fear] we will hurt their feelings” says Nista.
While the conversation might be a little uncomfortable to have, it will save you both from discomfort later. No one wants to push the limits with their partner, and no one wants to hurt someone without knowing it. Having a safe word can build trust in your relationship and give you both confidence — and that’s the foundation for a strong intimate connection.