It seems strange but talking about sex with a partner is sometimes surprisingly difficult and the topic is frequently bought to counselling to resolve. Having a sexual encounter with your partner puts you in a vulnerable position – emotionally and physically - and yet talking to each other about how we feel and what we want is often neglected.
When the topic does come up, for couples who find it difficult, the areas of focus are quite often around frequency of sex and who initiates it. Because the conversation has been delayed, anxiety and resentment can run high leading to a fraught exchange. Both parties can be left feeling angry, ashamed, rejected and deflated.
Here are some tips to help you start the conversation and learn how to talk about sex without the conflict.
Set aside some private time during the day when sex is off the agenda. Agree that you’re going to talk about sex and limit the time to 30 minutes.
Rather than discussing frequency of sex, talk about what you like and don’t like. Sexual desire is linked to what happens and so worrying about how often you do it may disappear altogether.
When you discuss your likes and dislikes be gentle and use sentences like; “I’d like to do more of this” and “I’d like to do less of that” – balance the points.
Discuss your preferences on how you like sex to be initiated. Do you like it to be planned or spontaneous? Do you like touch, talk or text to suggest sex? Listen to your partner and learn their approach.
Talk about consent. How do you each consent to sex or sexual acts? Agree that you will talk to each other when trying new things and both agree that it’s OK. If there is hesitation explore more and find out what would be OK to try. Start positive sentences with “I …” I like, I want, I think about, I’d like to, I’d prefer.
Once you get more comfortable having these conversations, you can explore each other’s desires at a deeper level. Start to trust that you can speak openly about sex knowing your partner won’t reject or ridicule you, do this by respecting what your partner says and respond how you would want them to respond to you. Here are some ideas for discussion as you get more comfortable:
Ban penetrative sex for a while and sleep naked together, touching and talking.
Share one sexual fantasy you’ve had with each other.
Ask each other what happens when they masturbate.
Learn to ask for and take what you want consensually, reduce your need to please (all the time).
Over time the topic will be less about frequency and who initiates it – these are “safe” topics even though they led to friction in the past. The real conversations to have are about what you do and how you feel. Be brave, share what you like and find out what your partner likes.