Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
Let’s face it, talking about sex can be uncomfortable. Sex is a topic that many couples struggle with, and ironically, if couples were able to discuss sex more openly, a lot of their problems around sex may not exist. Research shows that couples who talk about sex, have better sex*.
So, if talking about sex is so important, what gets in the way of couples being able to have these types of conversations?
Where do we get the message that sex is taboo and should not be openly discussed?
being rejected for liking something that your partner does not, or the fear of feeling shame for having a specific fantasy. These fears can be huge barriers for couples, to the point that they may not be able to get over them without a little help.
Knowledge is power, and knowing all about your partner is very important. Knowing their erotic inner world is crucial (e.g., what turns them on/off?), but it’s a place that not many couples take the time to get to know.
So, how do you fix something if you aren’t able to talk about it?
We start by opening up a dialogue. If you’ve identified that sex is something that needs to be addressed in your relationship, ask your partner if they’d be willing to talk about it. Use these tips to keep the conversation on track and productive.
6 Tips For Talking About Sex
- Keep the blame out of the conversation.
Instead try something like, “Hey, I’ve noticed that we haven’t been having as much sex as I would like, and I was wondering if that’s something we can talk about?”. Even if your partner seems to be the one to blame because they aren’t in the mood much these days, blaming them will not fix anything. It will, however, make them defensive and insecure – both recipes for disaster when it comes to communication in a relationship. Try to keep things as neutral as possible.
- Make sure the timing is right.
Don’t bring up the topic when you’re rushing out the door or about to go to bed, give yourself ample time to discuss. Be mindful of how this topic may affect your partner and give yourselves enough time to make repairs, if necessary. It’s also important to have this conversation in a suitable environment. This is probably not a good topic for a date night dinner, talk about it in a mutually safe environment like at home.
- Be open and honest.
Talk about how the issue is affecting you, talk for yourself, not for your partner. Be honest about your current needs, this is especially important if your needs have changed. Let’s say you’ve noticed that you aren’t in the mood quite as much as you were before, this is important information for your partner to know. That way, their advances won’t be taken as rejection if you decline sex because they will know what’s going on.
- Take responsibility.
Is there a role you may have played in the issue? Try to not blame your partner. Be honest about why this is such an important need for you. Remember to ask your partner for their thoughts and feedback if you’re open to it. We all have blind spots, sometimes we aren’t even aware of the role we play in certain situations. It can help for these blind spots to be called out in a kind, constructive manner.
- Be curious.
If you never had a conversation around each individual’s eroticism, ask your partner to have that conversation now. It can be both useful and hot to talk about kinks or fetishes, fantasies, maybe even past experiences that you really enjoyed. Here are some key things to ask your partner about:
- Turn-ons vs. Turnoffs
- Likes vs dislikes
- What are their fantasies?
- Preferences (positions, locations, time of day)
- Frequency: this one is important; it may highlight a desire discrepancy (more on that in a future blog)
- Remain nonjudgmental.
Just because your partner divulges a specific fantasy, doesn’t mean you have to do it (it also doesn’t necessarily mean they want you to do it). These types of conversations can be a reparative act for sex lives that are struggling. They are erotic in nature, which can be exciting. These conversations also help heal shame around the topic of sexuality. Imagine being able to be completely open with your partner and not feel judged or ashamed for things that turn you on (which, I may add, are out of your control). Conversations like this will not only help on the sex front, but they will also strengthen the relationship overall.
Fear and shame are the most common culprits that get in the way of couples talking about sex, but it shouldn’t be this way. It’s important to unlearn the idea that sex is shameful or taboo and should not be discussed. Sex is a part of life, not only is it the vehicle for life, it’s also one of the most powerful ways to build and strengthen intimacy.
Something so crucial to human existence and relationships should not be kept in the shadows, it should be normalized and talked about openly. My hopes are that after reading this, you see the benefit of having these types of conversations. The pointers above help frame these conversations in a more sex-positive way which will help a lot. You never know, your partner could be into the same thing you are, or they might be willing to try the things that turn you on! You will never know unless you talk about it.
Need more help in learning how to get your sex life on track? Try talking to a licensed professional. José Ramirez is a licensed mental health counselor and trained relationship professional. Schedule a callback here.
Stay tuned for part 2 of this 3 part blog post series. Part 2 will tackle desire discrepancies and getting in the mood!
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