Fortunately, talking about sex with your best friends is usually a cakewalk. (An open, wine-infused chat that is often served over a delicious dish and ends with you feeling even closer than before.)
So, why is having a conversation about sex with your partner such a challenge?
Probably, in part, because we all have an unspoken expectation to feel and be naturally gifted at sex… with any partner we’ve ever had… every time.
Which is well… impossible.
We love how Noam Schpance put it in Psychology Today put it:
“In reality, more often than not, great sex, much like a great meal, does not just happen—it needs to be carried out with skill, thoughtfulness, and the right mix of selfish abandon and mutual attentiveness.”
Yes, yes, yes!
Great skill, thoughtfulness and selfish abandon lends itself to having a discussion – really an ongoing discussion that evolves as you and your partner do – about the kind of sex you want to have. Dan Savage actually nails it in this video clip as to why that conversation is vital to better sex:
While he’s responding to a question about why gay men have better sex than straight people, his main point is strong regardless of sexual identity. To paraphrase,
“When a man and a woman go to bed together, they actually stop talking and negotiating after consent…When two men go to bed together, they get consent and that is the beginning of the conversation…And that conversation starts with the most empowering question of them all: “What are you into? With that conversation, you are empowered to rule anything in, and anything out… And that is why we have better sex.”
So. You know you should talk to you partner about your sex. But it’s hard to talk shop with your partner. To help you get the conversation rolling, we’ve got 4 tips for starting to communicate on this fun and sometimes laugh-inducing subject.
1. Relax together, first.
Before you even can begin to talk comfortably, get comfortable! Sprawl out on the couch with your person(s), click on a TV show you’ve seen before, and grab a couple beers or mugs of steaming tea. Being human and feeling content together is overlooked, but so important to be in a light-hearted mood.
This relaxed state might be the right place for you to start talking. If it is, great. If not, might we suggest a long car ride or a walk as the backdrop for chatting?
2. Be prepared.
“Are there any parts of your body you want touched more often?” and “Is there a scene in a movie that really turns you on?” sound borderline cliche, but they’re really gateway questions that can lead you two to understand what you each like and don’t like, what adjustments you can make, and what you can try next time.
Prepare some questions in advance, and think about things you can contribute so you don’t get discouraged by silences or awkwardness. Think about anything you want to be sure to address in the discussion as well.
And remember, your partner is likely to reflect back to you the energy you bring to this conversation. So if you start from a place of genuine curiosity and appreciation for their pleasure as a way of deepening your own pleasure… Well then you have some pretty exciting prospects.
3. Let your partner know you are listening.
If you don’t feel heard, you definitely don’t want to open up to someone. Good active listening skills means you paraphrase what your partner says, you make eye contact with them, nod, and of course, the big one – take what they say to heart and later show you heard them. This also helps address potential embarrassment – being engaged in the conversation will make it more interesting and productive for both sides.
4. Ask for in-the-moment feedback.
It’s absolutely okay to ask your special person for in-the-moment feedback.
One O’a team member did this with a boyfriend recently with awesome results. “I knew I wasn’t giving him the head he wanted, but even though I addressed it with him directly on the couch, he was hesitant to tell me what he needed me to do. So I removed his clothes and said, ‘Look, I need you to give me direction. I want to do this well for you.’ There was some instruction, some mishaps, and it took a lot longer than I’d have liked – but once I understood what he wanted, I could much more easily deliver the next time.”
You’ll notice almost all these tips take place with your clothes on. The more you practice communicating before you get naked, the easier it will be to talk when your clothes are off and your mind is on well…other things.
Do you have a communication success story? We’d love to hear it!