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Talking To Your Partner About Sex

Some of the most common questions I get asked are "how do I tell my partner I want to try this?", "My partner is so shy when it comes to talking about sex, what can I do?", or the popular "I am really into [blank] but scared to tell my partner." Sex is one of the most intimate and vulnerable spaces in our lives, yet many of us grow up in families who are ashamed to educate us. We go into relationships too embarrassed to bring up desires out of fear of rejection or shame. We don't know how to create a secure relationship with ourselves where we put our fantasies and desires first and often settle for sexual incompatibility.

Our culture tells us from a very early age that sex is a taboo topic, even with our romantic partner. Women are taught to be quite and polite, never making the first move, and slut shaming us for anything outside of that. We are taught that sex should be organic and spontaneous and that talking about it can ruin the experience. Talking about sex is all about vulnerability. Being vulnerable by sharing your fantasies and desires can feel scary. Fears of judgment and rejection are the most common stated reasons as to why people avoid the topic. “If I bring this up they will judge me” or “what I want to do is weird and they won’t want to be with me.”

While it can be an uncomfortable and/or intimidating topic, having regular conversations around sex and curiosities are an important part of building and maintaining a healthy, sex-positive relationship. Open and honest sexual communication is key to ensuring both partners' needs and desires are continually being met while creating a safe container to explore in together. *The earlier in your relationship and how often you talk about sex, the easier it will feel.

We have compiled some tips below for discussing sex with your partner in a safe and loving way.

If possible talk about sex early on If you building a new relationship with a potential partner or thinking about what is important to you in your next relationship consider talking about sex early on. Talking about sex, fantasies, and desires while getting to know someone not only helps to determine if you are sexually compatible but will also create a safe foundation around intimate and vulnerable conversations. Asking about turn ons/offs, triggers, boundaries, sexual curiosities, taking sex tests together, and asking about self pleasure practices and porn can help you to get to know your partner on a completely different level. Keep in mind that everyone is into different things and there is no shame in any of those things. As hard as it might be finding out that you are not sexually compatible with someone, it can be even harder to find that out much later or feel shameful around your desires because of fear of rejection.

Figure out what you want

It’s really hard to tell someone what you want and like if you don’t really know yourself. ​​Next time you’re having sex or masturbating, pay attention to what really gets you going. When masturbating, what are you fantasizing about (or watching) that you really want to try with your partner? When having sex what are you feeling or paying attention to that enhances your experience? Remember these things in detail and write them down somewhere. 

Be sure to be specific as well. Don’t just write down “dirty talk.” Write down exact words or phrases that you like to hear and how you like them to be said. The same goes for physical acts. Don’t just say “When you’re on top.” Describe what your partner looks like when they are on top and what exactly they are doing. Being too broad can create confusion. The more specific you can be the better. Think about it like this. You can tell someone to fold a shirt and there are 15 different ways they can do it. Telling them where to start and which parts to fold when and how to fold them will ensure you get the neatly folded shirt of your dreams. 

Make it about more than sex

Sure, sex is what you are talking about but at the root of it you are talking about ways to deepen and strengthen your relationship and connection with each other by listening and indulging in each other's interests and desires. Make sure this isn’t left out of your conversations about sex. Sex brings partners closer, both physically and mentally, and reinforcing this desire for connection is a very important part of this conversation.

Create a safe and comfortable environment

Set and setting are always important when discussing sensitive topics. Especially ones that can trigger feelings of judgment or rejection. Before starting the conversation, ensure you and your partner are in a safe, comfortable, and private space. We find it is best to have conversations about sex at home. Be patient with your partner, give them time, and understand that not everyone is comfortable talking about intimacy and may need more time to open up.

Choose the right time

Timing is crucial when discussing sensitive topics like sex. It might seem more natural to talk about sex right before or after you’ve had it. While we highly encourage pre-sex negotiation and debriefing, these are also times of high vulnerability and aren’t necessarily the best times to bring up brand new ideas or spring something on your partner. Instead, make time away from the bedroom, at a time when neither of you are rushed. Knowing how your partner's day was, what kind of head space they may be in, and the capacity they may have for these conversations is important. Find a time when you and your partner are both relaxed and not distracted by other commitments or stressors. When you both feel connected on an emotional and physical level. This will allow you and your partner to feel less threatened by discussing vulnerabilities.

Act as a team

Talking about sex should be no different than any other thing you and your partner tackle together. As a team. It should always be “us vs this” not “me vs you.” You are working together to figure out how to improve your relationship and have incredible sex. Do it together! If your partner is not comfortable going in one direction with you fully, lets say with anal, find a way to meet in the middle. For example, instead of full anal sex talk about trying things like fingers or toys and check in regularly.

Go slow and be patient

Many people have the tendency to speed up when they’re nervous. Slowing yourself down and managing the pace of your speech can help ensure that you are being fully heard and reduce the overall stress around the topic. It also provides space for your partner to process and respond to your thoughts and desires.  

Use "I" statements

Be positive, not critical. When discussing sex, express your feelings and desires using "I" statements. For example, say, "I feel" or "I would like," rather than making accusatory or judgmental statements. This helps avoid blame and makes your partner more receptive to your needs. Generally “you” statements can be counterproductive in these conversations. 

Be a good listener

Effective communication is a two-way street. This isn’t just a time for you to list out all of your fantasies and wishes for better sex. Listen actively to your partner's thoughts and feelings without interrupting or being judgmental. Don’t just breeze past their comments or concerns and take the time to truly understand where they are coming from.

Ask open-ended questions

Encourage your partner to share by asking open-ended questions. This allows them to express themselves in more detail and helps you gain a deeper understanding of their needs and desires. Ask about their fantasies and dive in with them. Judgment can’t exist where curiosity lives!

Discuss boundaries and consent

Talking about boundaries and consent is crucial in any sexual relationship. Make sure both you and your partner are clear about what is acceptable and consensual. Leave room for no. If your partner has a boundary around the thing you want to try, accept it and work together to find ways to explore things around what you would like to try. You may want to open up your relationship to other people but your partner is not ready for that. A way that you might be able to still explore this is through dirty talk or have your own toy box for self play time.

Explore together

Sometimes it can be hard for people to know what they would like to explore if they haven’t been exposed to it yet. You don’t know what you don’t know right? There are tests out there that you and your partner can take to see what you are both interested in exploring. These can also be a great way to expose you both to new ideas and do some research together. Carnal calibration is one we highly recommend for exploring new things or breaking the ice.

Baby steps

It can be very easy to overwhelm your partner when starting to have conversations about sex. One of your fantasies might be a hot wife scenario or being cucked but you have never even talked about the idea of sleeping with other people before and your partner hasn’t expressed interest. When it comes to sharing fantasies it’s best to start simple and build. Depending on your typical sex, some tame, vanilla fantasies may be a better place to start. Be patient and see how your partner responds. This will help build trust and intimacy. Understanding why you want to do this with your partner and being patient through questions or hesitations is incredibly important when building safety around vulnerability.

Regularly check-in

Talking about sex isn’t a one and done kinda thing. As we have said before, the more you talk about it the easier it gets. We recommend talking to your partner about sex at least once a month. More if possible. This allows you both to stay connected to each other's needs and also follow up on what you may have discussed in the past. We love integrating this in our aftercare following sex. Talking about things we liked, new things we did, things that maybe didn't feel as good, talking each other up, and even talking about things we may want to explore together in the future.

Don’t be afraid to ask for outside help

If you find that the conversation is too difficult or that it uncovers deeper issues, consider seeking the help of a therapist or coach who specializes in relationships and sexual health to be a safe space for these vulnerable conversations.

Remember, what you are into may not be what your partner is comfortable exploring, but talking about it early on in a safe and non-shameful way can promote not only exploration with your partner but in yourself as well.

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