Discussing sex with your partner might be more important than you think.
That’s right. No matter how long you’ve been with your beau, you should still take time to sit down and discuss your sex life. However, this isn’t always as easy as it may seem. From feelings of shame to awkwardness, there are many hurdles we need to overcome to put our feelings on the table.
We’re passionate about healthy and fulfilling sex. So, we’ve put together a list of 10 sex therapist-approved tips to help you get down and dirty, minus the worries.
Ready? Let’s get into it.
Why open conversations matter
Good sex happens when you get out of your head. But to get out of your own mind, you need to communicate well with your partner and trust them throughout the experience. This is where talking about sex openly comes in.
Open conversations allow partners to not only improve their sex lives but to better their overall relationship and intimacy. However, this doesn’t happen after one discussion. Couples should continuously work towards this goal with ongoing chats about how sex feels and their desires.
With transparent conversations, couples can build trust and more meaningful relationships. Plus, your orgasms will likely improve, and we’re always a fan of this benefit.
1. Setting the stage
Conversations about sex aren’t always the most comfortable. However, you can increase your comfort while chatting by creating a safe environment to discuss them. This can literally mean talking in a place you’re both familiar with (such as your home) and creating a safe emotional space (by being non-judgemental and empathetic).
To broach sensitive topics, don’t assume your partner’s feelings. Use active listening and clear statements to make sure no one is misunderstood. You should also validate your partner’s feelings to let them know you’re listening and care about their personal desires.
2. Choosing the right time and place
Though you might feel eager to have a tantalising conversation with your partner, you can’t jump into sex talk at any time or place. As discussed above, chatting in a safe and familiar location is the best way to ensure they’re comfortable.
Choosing a time when you’re alone, away from life stresses, and unwinding is helpful. For example, at home in the evening is perfect, whereas on public transport probably isn’t the best idea, unless you’re both really into trains.
As a rule of thumb, never discuss intimacy during high-stress periods. Trying to talk about a vulnerable subject after a crappy workday isn’t ideal and might result in the topic being shut down by your partner.
3. Using “I” statements
“I” statements are a super helpful tool when navigating difficult conversations. These statements help you to express personal feelings and show your partner that you’re taking responsibility for your feelings. This way, they won’t feel blamed or guilty for anything that’s discussed.
Examples of “I” statements include:
- “I want to try new positions.“
- “I am concerned about not using enough lube.”
- “I want to explore roleplay.“
These statements take responsibility rather than making your partner feel bad. Avoid pointing the finger via “you” statements. Saying things like “You never want to try new positions” or “You don’t use enough lube” have a more negative tone.
4. Active listening
Alongside learning to express yourself clearly, you must also be ready to listen actively.
Active listening shows genuine interest in your partner’s thoughts, validates their feelings, and encourages clearer expression. This is a great way to show your care and deepen trust.
To show you’re actively listening, nod while they speak, paraphrase their words, keep steady eye contact, and ask follow-up questions. Don’t interrupt them; this is a clear sign you’re not considering their point.
5. Respecting boundaries
Like any sexual activity, conversations will also have boundaries. If there are any topics you know your partner isn’t comfortable discussing, respectfully avoid them. Likewise, don’t push them if they stop and tell you they don’t want to discuss something. They should also reciprocate this behaviour for your needs and boundaries.
To remain respectful, avoid criticising them and stay calm. Try to use police language, and use other tips from this blog — such as active listening.
6. Framing feedback positively
Feedback is essential to improving your sex life – it helps you and your partner learn more and make play even sexier. However, if it isn’t presented carefully, it can upset your partner, knocking their confidence, and making them defensive.
Using empathy and “I” statements can help to shift the feedback away from your partner. This shows it’s about both you and your satisfaction, not their failings. It may also be helpful to offer solutions and remind them of a shared goal.
Try as hard as possible to avoid accusations, and keep your language and tone respectful throughout the conversation for a positive outcome.
7. Acknowledging discomfort
Don’t worry if you’re nervous about the conversation. Discussing intimate matters is awkward for nearly everyone, and sometimes leaning into the discomfort can help to break the tension.
For example, acknowledging the discomfort and understanding can reassure your partner that you’re both in a safe environment. You can also approach the conversation with patience or humour (if appropriate) to ease tension.
Strategies like acknowledging the discomfort, using humour, and gradually initiating conversations can help you tackle the awkwardness and have a productive chat.
8. Exploring desires and fantasies
Part of your discussion may involve your desires and fantasies, but both parties should feel safe and comfortable getting here. AKA – you need to reinforce that you’re in a non-judgemental space.
To start talking about your fantasies, ensure you’re both at ease and begin with slight hints. Depending on your partner’s reaction, you can provide more details if you feel comfortable. Exploring hypothetical scenarios to see if you’re both curious about the potential experience can also be helpful.
Curiosity is a significant factor when discussing desires, as it drives exploration. Acceptance is also crucial, as this shows your partner is open to the fantasy and acknowledges it without judgment.
9. Handling differences
In an ideal world, your partner may have the exact same fantasies as you and your chat would be over instantly. Of course, this is very unlikely. But in reality, diversity and different opinions bring variety to life, and you shouldn’t shy away if you have different interests.
If differences arise, respect your partner’s views, and actively listen to understand them more. Once you understand them, you can try to find a compromise or find shared values and focus on these. Clear communication is paramount here to make sure you both feel respected.
You can establish common ground through shared interests and use this to come back to if your desires don’t align in other areas.
10. Seeking professional help
If you are finding it challenging to talk to your partner about sexual intimacy, discover that you can’t reach a common ground, or simply end up in conflict when trying to discuss your sex life, it might be appropriate to consult a sex therapist or counsellor for some external assistance.
These professionals can offer unbiased insights and support to help you navigate the complex topic. Thanks to their training, they have specialised strategies and tools to help couples reach an agreement in a healthy and safe environment. Perfect if you want experienced assistance to kick-start your conversations about sex.
Talking about sex isn’t always sexy, but good communication, a safe space, and an open mind can help you take your relationship to the next level. Always remember to respect boundaries and actively listen to your partner; when in doubt, a professional may help you bridge the gap.