After some years of bachelorhood, I recently met the most wonderful woman through a dating app. I could easily fill pages on how we connect, barring one sexual fetish that has emerged. During one of our first nights together, she described herself as “a bit of an exhibitionist” and insisted on leaving the bedroom curtains open while making love. The way my fourth-floor flat is situated, this didn’t put us on full display, but neighbours from across the street may very well have had a good view of everything we did. My girlfriend found this very arousing, which had its effect on me, but I also found this an awkward experience. It made me wonder what else she has in store. At this early stage in our relationship, I find it difficult to discuss with her.
You have a perfect right to let her know if something she desires is uncomfortable for you or feels unsafe. In fact, it is important to establish boundaries. Nobody can like everything. Exhibitionism can be a nonconsensual act, and you both need to consider if a public display might – for example – make others uncomfortable or potentially be viewed by minors. A way to approach the necessary discussion could be: “I really enjoy having sex with you, and I noticed you were especially aroused when we left the curtains open … I’d like you to tell me more about what else turns you on?” This is an accepting way to open the conversation and receive information about her particular interests. If she mentions a sexual style or act that might bother you, you can say: “I’m open to trying new things, but maybe we could discuss them beforehand, or at least agree on a safe word so I could let you know if I become too uncomfortable?” If you can share some things you particularly enjoy, so much the better.
Pamela Stephenson Connolly is a US-based psychotherapist who specialises in treating sexual disorders.
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