With the amount of stigma, shame, and judgment around sex in the outside world, it’s no surprise that this affects the way we talk about and do sex in relationships. Hangups, defenses, unhealthy thought patterns, and all kinds of un-sexy things find their way into our beds. Time for spring cleaning! And what a better way to liven up our sex than to stretch our tongue muscles and talk about it.
We are a year into this pandemic, with a whole lot of feelings about, well, everything. Maybe you’ve been spending way too much time with your partner and are having trouble desiring them as the delicious human they are. You may be feeling disconnected during sex, it might feel boring or formulaic, or maybe you and your partner are low-sex or no-sex. Maybe you really need some space before you can feel more available for MORE connection. Perhaps you are dating a new partner and want to brush up on your sex-talk skills as you build your connection.
The first thing to do is breathe, and know that all of these seasons of experience are normal.
Personal needs, relationship needs, and sexual needs all fluctuate over the course of a relationship and throughout our lives. Learning how to talk about them can help air out concerns and create shared goals.
This study found that communicating openly about sex improved overall relationship satisfaction.
What do you want to talk about? Write it down- reflect- what do you like, what do you not like, areas for improvement, or creative ideas. Each partner can write and you can share— helps to have some direction in the conversation.
For best results, start the conversation at a neutral time when the stakes are low and when most of your basic needs have been met. Choose a time when you and your partner are relaxed but not tired, and free of big-time constraints or places to be. Not before sex, not after a fight, not when one of you is feeling frustrated or emotional. Find a neutral time when you are fed, rested, and not overworked to avoid irritability.
Bringing it up in a neutral location like a road trip or a walk in the park can take the pressure for performance out of the equation. It’s easiest to talk about sex when the only expectations are to share, to listen, and to be heard.
It’s also important to note that post-sex talk (right afterward) can be a sweet way to bond in the bliss. This intimate time together can be a good opportunity for sharing what worked, what you enjoyed, what didn’t work, how your body feels, etc.
With curiosity, positivity, and openness. Start by asking a question from a place of curiosity:
“I’m curious how you’ve been feeling about our sex life, and if there’s anything you feel like you’re missing or anything else you want to try?”
It’s important to bring positivity to this conversation especially when discussing areas of potential improvement. A compliment sandwich can be a helpful approach: compliment + ask + compliment. For example, “I love the way your touch feels. I’d love it if you touched me more. Your confidence is sexy.”
If visual guidance feels helpful, try this Yes No Maybe chart. Print out one copy for each partner and one for a master list. Complete the master list together showing all the areas of shared yeses and maybes. Make some time to talk about the maybes and start by trying out all the fun things in the YES column.
Try using a practice called reflecting: simply repeat back what the other person just said to make sure you’ve understood them, and invite them to continue. No questions, no comments, no sharing your feelings about it. Just active listening. When one partner feels complete, the other partner takes a turn. To read more about reflecting, check out this article.
Active Listening Practice
Here’s a variation on the above reflection questions to use as an active listening practice for you and your partner. For 2 minutes per person, take turns asking the following questions:
When it’s your turn to actively listen, reply only by saying, “Thank you. What else do you love/fear/desire?”
To read more about reflecting, check out this article.
The Graphic Sex Project
The Graphic Sex Project is a tool to make those conversations a little bit easier and a lot more fun. With the brightly colored squares, like toys of childhood, sex is set in the context of the play. The play has a purpose: to make sexual topics deliberately non-erotic, helping you approach sex with your defenses down and your intellect turned on.
The GSP taps into creativity, logic, and playfulness, to open up new avenues in the self-exploration of sexual issues and relationships, encouraging people to think about their sex lives from a new perspective and giving them the tools to share that perspective with a partner.
Originally posted on Wellcelium.org.
Cover photo by Pexels