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How to Talk about Sex With Your Partner

Learning how to talk about sex with your partner is so important for developing not only more satisfying sex but also deeper closeness and intimacy. If you can learn to be open and safe with each other about one of the most vulnerable topics, you can create a really strong connection.  So why is sex so hard to talk about?

Here are a few reasons: 

1. Discomfort with sexual topics and pleasure - Despite living in a modern society, most of us don’t grow up with positive sexual messages or open communication about sex.  Many of us develop the idea that sex and pleasure are taboo and therefore talking about it will be awkward.  We can internalize the following messages about sex:

  •  “Sex is dirty.”  
  • “It’s selfish to want more pleasure.”  
  • “Sexual thoughts should be kept private.”  
  • “There are some sexual things that should not be talked about.”    
  • “If I ask questions about sex, s/he will think less of me.”   
  • “S/he will think I’m weird/dirty/bad if I share a particular fantasy.”  
  • “I’ve been hurt by sex in the past”

2. Feeling like it’s a personal attack- It’s almost impossible when our partner raises a complaint or even something they want to be different in the area of romance and sex, not to take it personally.  Many people feel like it means they are inadequate somehow or are not loved for who they are unconditionally.  Remember, if your partner is bringing something up about sex, it means s/he wants a deeper, more satisfying connection with you!  Try to stay open-minded and remember that you both want a happier, healthier relationship and sex life. 

3. Not knowing how or when to bring it up - You might be comfortable talking about sex but you might not know how or when to go about it.  You might be afraid to hurt your partner's feelings or you might not know if you should bring it up.  Like should you talk while you're out to dinner (that could be awkward!) or when you're about to do it (but then what if it ruins it!)?   All this thinking can paralyze you and then years go by without ever really sharing with each other what turns you on and what would make sex go better.  

Strategies for How to Talk About Sex with Your Partner

  1. Use the Telephone or email-  Remember when you were first dating and you could talk for hours on the phone? And maybe you even engaged in a little phone sex?  Use talking on the phone while you’re traveling (or even before one of you comes home from the office) to talk about topics such as what you’d like to do with each other.  Say things like, “I’ve been missing you a lot lately and I’ve been thinking a lot about us doing….”  You can also use email as a way to introduce the topic and give your partner a little time to digest it.  This can help ease the awkwardness of talking face to face.  
  2. "Pillow Talk"  right after sex – This can be very reinforcing for things you want to have happen in future lovemaking.  It's usually when you're most open and intimate with each other.  You're more likely to be open to what each other is saying.  Say things, “Oh my god that felt so good when you…”  or  “I love it when you touch me there or that way…”  You can also say things like, "You know what I've always wanted to try?" Obviously during sex, if something is painful or very uncomfortable, then say something like, “Oh, I think we need to try something else. That’s not comfortable. Can we…?"
  3. If you need to bring up a complaint, start with something positive first –  Remember, we can be easily hurt when it comes to sex, so be gentle (but also be brave and direct).   Say things like, “Honey, I love the way we X and Y.  I would like it if we could [do more of, less of or do something differently].”  If it’s something that really turns you off during sex, be positive but then also be direct and clear.  Say something like “This turns me on. This doesn’t.”
  4. Use erotica to help with sharing fantasies – It can be really fun to share an erotic story or picture with your partner about something you’ve been fantasizing about.  You can leave a bookmarked page where your partner might find it or even send a story via email.  
  5. Create positive/safe space for sharing— When it comes to sharing particular fantasies or asking for something different from your partner, it can help to declare something like: “Anything that’s said is okay for next few minutes. It doesn’t mean we have to do it. It just means we’re sharing with each other.”
  6. Use the book 101 Nights of Great Sex by Laura Corn - It's a unique book with "secret" pages for "him" and "her."  You can use the book to see what kinds of activities interest you and share with each other.  The activities vary from silly to naughty and there's probably something in there for everyone.  

Hopefully by learning how to talk about sex with your partner, you two can enjoy a more satisfying, open sex life! 

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