In online dating, the topic of when to have sex is often pushed on us before we’re really ready. Some people use dating sites for the sole purpose of finding a sex partner, while others are seeking a long-term relationship and don’t view sex as the main objective. No matter where you fall in that continuum, it’s important to think about sex with a new partner and when you want that to happen. Here are some tips on how to deal with it.

Your Online Dating Profile Should Be Clear about Your Intentions

The beauty of an online dating profile is that you can state what you do and don’t want. What you share depends on how comfortable you are with the conversation and what you desire. The clearer you are on your intentions, the easier it is for potential partners to see if the two of you are a good fit.

Say Goodbye to Outdated Advice

Some of the traditional "how to date" advice - particularly when it comes to older women - is rather outdated. Dating gurus will tell you to hold out, to not let yourself be “used,” or appear too eager. Your decision should be based on what you’re looking for - not the old-fashioned, heteronormative dating game where men make the moves and women try to be pleasing and feminine.

If you want to have sex with a new partner, do it. Just be sure you are safe and able to communicate what you want. Let’s look at a few things to think about before jumping into sex with a new partner.

Read: Casual Sex Rules

Ready to Go? Keep These Tips in Mind

Know Your Reasons

What’s your reason for having sex? Is it just for pleasure or are you looking for more connection? Sometimes we think that having sex is an indicator of deeper commitment from a partner. That’s not always the case. So, ask yourself - and them - what having sex means for the two of you.

Be Aware of the Risks

Sexually transmitted infections are on the rise in recent years, even among older adults. Don't assume that you're immune, regardless of your age. Talk about STIs before having sex. Use condoms. If this becomes a long-term relationship, both partners should consider testing for STIs and share the results. Condom usage and a willingness to get tested show respect and concern for a partner’s well-being. Don’t have sex with someone who doesn’t respect your requests.

Read: Women Now Buy Nearly As Many Condoms as Men. Here's Why.

Communicate

Don’t just jump into bed with someone you meet on an online dating site without talking about expectations, needs, etc. Be prepared to share is what you like and don’t like. Talk about mutual expectations. Conversation helps you establish a level of trust and intimacy. If talking about sex feels too awkward maybe you’re not ready to actually have sex!

Be Safe

Think about where you’re meeting this person and how well you know them. Tell a friend about your plans and plan to check in at some point. You may not want to invite a relative stranger to your home if you live alone. Having spontaneous sex is great; pay attention to your safety, though.

Plan for Intimacy

What do you need to feel comfortable during sex? Lube, your favorite sex toy, or a particular item of clothing? When planning for intimacy, think about what you require for pleasurable sex. Women often forget to put their own needs first, so be intentional and even a little bold. If you have a lighting preference, say so. If things are moving too fast, ask your partner to slow down. Get out the lube and show your partner what you like. Ask for what you want.

There are so many benefits to having sex. Sex and the accompanying intimacy gives us a surge of feel-good hormones, helps with our sexual health, and, most importantly, it’s pleasurable. There’s no reason not to have sex if you desire it. The key is to make safe choices and be prepared to ask for what you want.