- How To Approach an Awkward Conversation (Especially About Sex)
- How (and What) to Discuss
- After Your Conversation
- In the End...
We know that sex and intimacy are critical to building and maintaining a solid and healthy relationship. We also know that mind-blowing, connection-expanding sex doesn't just happen: it requires communication.
Talking about intimacy can feel awkward, but talking about sex doesn't have to be complicated. Here are some ideas for how to talk about sex with your partner.
How To Approach an Awkward Conversation (Especially About Sex)
It can be a tad nerve-wracking to start a conversation about sex with your partner.
According to clinical sexologist and sex coach Sunny Rodgers in an article for Swell, "What I have encountered the most is that people avoid talking to their partners about what they want in bed because they fear embarrassment and/or rejection. And in some instances, people don't want to hurt their partner's feelings."
So, if this feels hard or intimidating, you're not alone. Most people simply haven't been taught how to talk about sex with their partner! However, being open around the topic and having direct communication will benefit everyone.
Before you even start the conversation, keep a few things in mind.
First, ensure that you're coming to the discussion in the spirit of sharing, exploring, and learning, rather than criticizing. Also, remember that your partner isn't a mind-reader! Be ready to be honest, and open about what is or isn't working for you, what you'd like to change or try (May we suggest some...new toys?), and how you are feeling.
Likewise, be open to what your partner brings to the chat. You never know what tempting new adventures might await! Finally, it's best to be well-equipped with a sense of humor, a readiness for experience, and a passion for your partner.
Keep in mind that your partner probably has some thoughts or ideas about your sex life, too!
In the same article from Swell, Sunny Rodgers advises us to remember "that your partner is likely as uncomfortable about this topic as you are. When you take the first step to open the door of communication, they'll likely be relieved, not angry."
So reframe the conversation in your mind! Starting it will do your relationship and your lover a big favor.
Choosing a good time can make a big difference in how productive your conversation can be! (Hint: probably not when everyone is naked. During or immediately after sex is not ideal for discussions about sex.)
Other not-so-great times include when you or your partner are hungry, tired, or while managing other stressful issues.
Ideally, it would help if you aimed for a moment where you will have some time to talk as long as you need with plenty of privacy. Start with a heads-up to ease into it — let your partner know that this is about to be a tad more...X-rated (wink) than negotiating who gets to do the dishes tonight. (Or, maybe doing the dishes gets wild in your house? We don't judge.)
How (and What) to Discuss
While it might take some guts to jump into talking to your partner about sex, there are a few specific techniques that will help you keep your conversation positive and productive.
Overall, aim to share your feelings, make observations, and make reasonable partner requests. Remember: sex is something that both parties should enjoy! If your partner pitches something you're uncomfortable with, be truthful.
As the conversation gets underway, here are some tips to make sure it doesn't take a turn into a negative zone:
Use "I" statements rather than "You" statements. (For example: "I get super hot when..." or "I am very turned-on when...").
Keep it positive — let your partner know what they do that you're a fan of. (For example: "You are wonderful at... is that something we can do more often?")
Ask questions and actively listen to the answers. (For example: "What's something that would make our sex life feel even better for you? Is there something new you'd like to try?")
Avoid "always" and "never" statements. This is a recipe for your partner to get defensive. (For example: "You always want the same positions. I don't remember you giving me massages anymore.")
- Explore what fantasies you both have that you might want to try out. (Pssst... if you're not sure, there's plenty of inspiration here.)
Stay open and have a sense of humor, too! Sex is a fun, bright part of a healthy relationship. It is crucial, and there are no wrong ways to feel about it, but try and create a space for an intimate and thoughtful collaboration — not critique, criticism, or demands.
Finally, don't be afraid that your partner might think your requests or suggestions are strange. No less than 97% of sexual fantasies fall into the same seven categories: multi-partner sex, rough sex, novelty and adventure, voyeurism and fetishes, non-monogamous sex, deeper emotional connection, and gender fluidity.
In other words, the chances are that whatever you want to try out isn't as bizarre as you think.
After Your Conversation
Having a conversation about sex is the first step toward ensuring that your relationship stays fulfilling and exciting. Once you've embraced open communication about sex and intimacy with your partner, you can implement what you've learned directly into your sex life. Be sure that you check in regularly to see if your changes are working for you both.
Take a Look:
If you still have concerns or challenges, it might be time to bring in the expertise of a sex therapist. According to Healthline, "Sex therapy is a type of talk therapy that's designed to help individuals and couples address medical, psychological, personal, or interpersonal factors impacting sexual satisfaction. The goal of sex therapy is to help people move past physical and emotional challenges to have a satisfying relationship and pleasurable sex life."
A sex therapist can help you identify the challenges in your sex life and aid you in discovering healthy ways to cope with those challenges to have a dynamic, fulfilling sex life with your partner.
In the End...
Awesome sex has tons of benefits!
Not only is it wildly funny, but it's good for us as individuals and healthy for our partnerships. It alleviates stress, lowers blood pressure, makes our hearts healthier, reduces anxiety, and helps us sleep better while feeling more empowered. Couldn't we all use a little more of that, especially in the era of COVID? (We certainly think so.)
So, do yourself and your partner a favor, and start the conversation about sex. Trust us — it can lead to some profoundly fulfilling and exciting places.
Celebrity Couples Who’ve Split Amid the Coronavirus Quarantine, (Feb, 2021) US Magazine
The Good and Bad News About Marriage in the Time of COVID, (Sep, 2021) IFStudies
American Sexual Health Association, (Aug, 2021) ASHA
Our Bodies Ourselves, (Oct, 2014) Our Bodies Ourselves