Talking with a partner about sex

Good communication is one of the keys to a nourishing relationship. Talking about the topic of sex is one area where many people seriously struggle to have open conversation. The fact is that it is absolutely normal to have to discuss and negotiate the many facets of sex - whether that’s frequency, preferences or changes. Certainly you can take notice of verbal and non-verbal cues, however no one is a mind reader. You simply cannot expect your partner to know what feels good and what doesn’t unless you tell them or show them. If there are issues about frequency of sex for example and no discussion about it, how can adjustments or compromises be made. I believe good communication and good sex go together. While it may not always be comfortable or easy, it is normal and needed. Hopefully it can also lead to a lot more pleasure!

You are not alone if this is a difficult area of conversation for you. Below, I have shared a few common responses I hear.

“I view a discussion about sex as threatening to myself or fear it will feel threatening to my partner, it is easier to say nothing, than to take the risk”

“ I don’t want to hurt my partner’s feelings, so I don’t speak up”  

“ I believe if my partner really loves me or cares about me, they will know what I like and want.”

“ I wonder what my partner is open to trying or into but I am afraid to ask”

“ What used to work before, doesn’t work anymore, how do I tell my partner”

Basic Communication Strategies and Starters

Start the conversation with something positive, “I really love it when...” Then suggest what you want, “I long for more….” Follow that with a specific example, “I think it would be a turn on if we….” Then ask for their feedback, “What do you think would be...?”

Begin sentences with “I” instead of “You” For example: “I’ve noticed some things about my body and how it responds during sex and I want to share that with you” instead of “You aren’t doing what my body needs to get aroused.”

To gather more information and gain understanding, Say things like “tell me more about that…” or repeat what you THINK you heard them say and clarify that you heard accurately what they were trying to communicate.

Have conversations about sex out of the bedroom (not right before or during sex) - perhaps while you are driving in the car together or taking a walk. A neutral location.

Better not to “surprise” them but rather tell them ahead you want to talk about sex and ask to set up a time to do so.

Practice what you want to say ahead of time. Think through how to communicate in a way that your partner will hear and understand. Is there an example or demonstration to make things more clear?

Tackle one topic at a time. It is better to address one thing at a time and have ongoing short conversations rather than everything all at once.

Read my blogs or social media posts together out loud to spark discussion

Read a book on sex together to help open up conversations.

Use the free Gottman Card Deck app and take turns asking each other the Sex Questions.

*photo courtesy of K.Scharkey