Why Speaking About Sex Is Important!

With the volume of sexually explicit material available to us online these days not to mention easy access to it all, it would be very simple to think that we as a species have become very comfortable with talking about sex. You can find information about all kinds of sex and sex practices literally at your fingertips. Yet despite this, few of us are comfortable with talking about sex in ways that are helpful and meaningful.

 

Why might that be? And what does that do for our escapades in the bedroom?

In my years of practice as a sex and relationship therapist I have found that a lot of people are much less comfortable discussing sex than doing it. Discussing it makes us vulnerable to being judged, to exposing ourselves or to feeling awkward and potentially having to navigate hurt feelings. For some, the thought of being perceived as weird, slutty, a creep or a pervert is enough to silence them forever. For many people, appearing normal is preferable to being satisfied… or is it though?

As Jeanette Winterson satirically asks:

“Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?”

For some of us being normal is far more valuable than being satisfied, so we avoid the

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

discussion that could release us from the drugery of  underwhelming sex. Instead we just go along with what we’ve always done or endure touch that we are really not into, hiding our desires in silence – simply because talking about it just feels too hard or because we don’t know how to have the conversation. And sure, we can continue to do this; there is no rule. But if you have an inkling that there is something more lurking in your desires, or you would like to connect more deeply with passion and sex, check out this little framework I have created to help you get started with both doing the talking and doing the listening.

Starting Your “Let’s Make Sex a Priority” Conversation.

1. Choose a time when you and your lover / partner are not distracted. It’s important that you are able to focus on the discussion without being interrupted by phones, kids, TV or other commitments. Over lunch, while you are taking a leisurely stroll or when you are just chilling out are great examples of the ‘easy-does-it’ approach.

2. You may have the desire to talk about sex with your lover, but not know how to start – Here are some script ideas:

  • “There is so much about our connection / relationship that is great. I love X, Y and Z. I’m really excited to see if we can take that into our sex life too”.
  • “The other night you did X and I really loved it. I ‘d love to know more about what you’re into {sexually} and I’m keen to share more about what I am into”.
  • “I was reading a blog about X {particular sex practice} the other day and I thought it was really interesting. Have you ever thought about X? What do you think of it”?

3. Remember, just because you ask for it, doesn’t mean you will get it. But it does mean you might be able to get it off your chest and get a conversation started.

4.  Start by emphasising what is already good. Giving specific feedback about techniques / activities you like. E.g.

“I really love it when you do X and it would be amazing if you could do Y too”

feels much nicer to hear than:

“I wish you would do Y more” or “You never do Y with me” or “Sex with you is so boring because you won’t do Y”.

Comments like these shut conversations down rather than open them up.

5. Don’t talk about sex problems in the middle of having sex, straight after sex or in the place/s where sex happens. Giving feedback during sex is important, but that’s not the same as discussing sex problems.  Initiate sex talks for a time when you are not in the middle of sex (See step 1). This is because discussing sex often feels vulnerable, which is a good thing. And during sex, we are often nude and /or  in a slightly altered headspace or compromised position. Combined, these things can make us feel more vulnerable than we normally would. Discussing complexities around pleasure is already challenging enough, so doing it when you can really focus on speaking and listening is helpful.

Remember that sex problems generally don’t get better by themselves. The reason is because sex problems usually start organically but get bigger when we don’t talk about them. They sit, they fester and get worse. Ignoring them won’t make them go away, but it might make your sexual connection go away. Conversations needn’t be big, heavy or scary. In fact, they can be a real relief and bring in a fresh new breeze.

Responding to a “Let’s Make Sex A Priority” Conversation.

So, perhaps you thought your sex life was going along nicely and then your partner shares that they want to talk with you about sex. You sense that this is important. You feel a rush of anxiety. Your hands get clammy. You fear that maybe you have done something wrong or that perhaps there is a bigger problem lurking.

“My initial reaction was – oh shit! What’s wrong with me? What am I not giving her? I fImage courtesy of stockimagesat FreeDigitalPhotos.netound myself feeling angry,… at her! My chest tightened and I felt hurt. I wanted to lash out at her even though what she was saying to me was completely reasonable…But I didn’t. I’m so glad I didn’t. I took a deep breath and really listened to her speak. It was really hard managing myself. A while later, I realised she was saying this because she cared and wanted to connect with me. She wasn’t pushing me away. But I had to practice relaxing and listening so I could hear what she meant. It’s actually become something we do a lot these days. It makes such a difference”. – Ethan.

A caring partner who tells you they want to discuss sex is telling you they value you and your sex life enough to want to make it a priority. This is a very good thing! So if you are challenged by a sex conversation with your partner, try these steps.

1 . Your partner has just shared they are into something, but you are not sure about it. Say so. Tell them you are not sure, but that you are willing to hear more about it. Tell them it’s something you don’t know much about, (or did once and had an unpleasant experience with…) or whatever the situation is. Tell them what your gut level response is, but do not panic about it. Just speak your position calmly. This is a helpful response that keeps the conversation moving.

2. Your partner appears very excited about this idea but you need some time. Tell them you are willing to consider it, but you need some time. Also tell them what else you might need in order to feel comfortable considering their idea.

“Let’s watch a video / read a book about it, or go to a class about it so we can learn more”

or

“I’ve never done anything like that, but would you be willing to teach me”?

or

“It sounds interesting, tell me more about it”.

3. It’s just a bad time! Your mind is elsewhere, you’re stressed or feeling edgy about other things going on. Tell them it’s a bad time and suggest a specific better time to continue the conversation. Offering an alternative shows that you are listening and responding, then stick to that. No one likes to feel like they are being blown-off. Remember, it’s as hard to bring things up as it can be to hear them.

4. Recognise that even though your partner is discussing this potentially tricky thing with you, they are doing it because they want you in their (sex) life. If they didn’t care, they wouldn’t have brought it up. Its a great opportunity to practice gratitude that you have a partner who wants communication about sex to be a valuable part of the relationship.

5.Remember that sex is a complex thing for a lot of folks. Avoid analysing what they are asking of you, why they aren’t satisfied with what you already have or whose ‘fault’ it is.  Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes it isn’t. Making sex a priority is important. Speaking about and sharing your feelings is tricky so we all need a lot of practice.

Making sex a priority needn’t be a big deal, but it does require your energy. If you want Bedtime (4)to find out more about getting things moving in your sex life check out The Desire Series . Its my online class, full of tips, examples, thoughts, experiences, science, reflections and loads of interesting exercises and activities to get you engaged in communicating about sex with yourself and those you connect with. No matter your gender, orientation or relationship status, there is something in The Desire Series for everyone.