The LGBT Health & Development Program

Making Sexual Agreements

Posted on April 6th, 2012 by Farrin in Youth Blog. No Comments

Making a sexual agreement with your primary partner is crucial to keeping your relationship happy, trusting, and safe. A relationship agreement can be any number of conditions or limitations that you and your partner equally agree on about having sex within and outside of your relationship. Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to fit one particular model. Each agreement is different—the important part is that you agree honestly about what fits your relationship, that you protect each other by playing safe, and that you admit when you’ve broken the pact, so that you can take precautions, get tested, and stay safe—together.

Many couples make an agreement to protect their feelings—not necessarily their health. A lot of couples view sex as a physical desire, expression, or outlet and not an emotional intimacy. You can protect your intimate connection with a primary partner by communicating up front about whether you’re in a monogamous, open, or “monogamish” relationship.

Be honest with yourself about what you want. If you wanna go out and hook-up from time-to-time, tell your partner – it doesn’t matter if they’re male or female (or) this goes for all types of LGBT relationships . If she can’t accept it, now’s the time to figure that out. Maybe he always wants to be there and you pickup the guy together? Add it to your plan and make it work. Sit down and talk. Write out your plan. (After all, plans worthy of being laid to paper are often most effective.) Get creative, make it into a poster, use some crazy fonts, textures & photos to keep it fun. Print it out. Hang it in the bathroom or frame it on the wall in your bedroom!

In a 2010 study conducted by Dr. Colleen Hoff, she showed that many of the male gay couples surveyed actually have relationship agreements already in place. They are vastly different to fit the particular couple and “most placed rules or conditions limiting when, where, how often, and with whom outside sex was permitted. Although motivations for having agreements varied, HIV prevention did not rank as a primary factor for any couple.” But what about HIV risk? It may not be the reason for making your agreement, but it should be reason enough for you to stick to it. After all, shouldn’t HIV/STI risk be a factor when you’re deciding how or when to add more sex partners to your relationship?

We say yes. Here’s why: Recent studies among gay/bi men have found that the majority of HIV transmission results from sex with a main partner. Wow. These aren’t random hook-ups that are transmitting HIV the most.

Need more reasons to form an agreement? Dr. Hoff also reported that gay couples experienced increased relationship satisfaction by not feeling trapped or stifled, as well as sexual satisfaction and increased trust within the relationship.

Here are some examples of sexual agreements that you and your partner may want to consider:
• Sex with outside partners is allowed, never in our bed. No emotional attachments to outside partners. Avoid anal sex with outside partners altogether.
• Sex with outside partners is allowed, but only when sober. Avoid anal sex with outside partners altogether.
• Sex with outside partners is allowed, as long as it’s not with our friends or exes. Never the same outside partner for more than 3 hook-ups. Always required to use a condom for anal sex. Agree that either partner can insist on using condoms again at any time during the relationship.
• Threesomes, “open sexually, but monogamous romantically,” allowed with both partners present and an outside partner. We make it known to the 3rd that we’re a couple and we have our rules: No anal sex.
• Threesomes allowed with both partners and an outside partner. Anal sex only with a condom.
• Sex with outside partners is not allowed. If it happens, it must be oral or safe play, no anal and we have to talk about it.
• Don’t ask, don’t tell. We can have sex with other people, but we have to be safe. If we’re not safe, we fess up right away and play it safe together while we wait testing results. If I do ask, you tell, honestly.
• The Voyeuristic-Intimacy Plan: We enjoy hearing about the sex encounters each other have outside of our relationship. We can hook-up with others and report back about the details.

Idea Posters:



Hoff, C. C., Beougher, S. C. (2010). Sexual Agreements Among Gay Male Couples. Archive of Sexual Behavior, 39. 774-787.

Sullivan, P.S., Salazar, L., Buchbinder, S., Sanchez, T.H. (2009). Estimating the proportion of HIV transmissions from main sex partners among men who have sex with men in five US cities. AIDS, 23(9), 1153-62.

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