Crucial Conversations: How to Talk About Sex
Get what you want in the boudoir
One of the most difficult conversations to have with your partner can be talking about sex. If you don’t like something your boyfriend or husband is doing in the bedroom, it is often tough to find the right time, or the right way, to say what needs to be said.
However, it’s essential to be able to talk about such an important subject, because while sex isn’t the only thing that matters in a relationship, it’s definitely near the top of the list for most people.
Principles to keep in mind
When you are ready to have that conversation, there are a few principles to follow to make sure that you get the desired result, according to Patricia Johnson and Mark Michaels, co-authors of Designer Relationships, Partners in Passion, Great Sex Made Simple, Tantra for Erotic Empowerment, and The Essence of Tantric Sexuality.
- Three Spoonfuls of Sugar - We recommend offering a minimum of three compliments or clear statements about current things you appreciate before making suggestions or requests for change.
- Unconditional Confidence in Your Beloved's Abilities - If your partner is not responding to your requests, it may be pertinent to examine if you are asking for a change while anticipating failure. If so, make an adjustment and be sure to ask for things that your beloved can do relatively easily. It is not fair to make a request that you know or have reason to believe is beyond your partner's ability to fulfill.
- Timing and Location - All too often people make the mistake of asking for a change before, during, or immediately after lovemaking. These are times of great vulnerability, and even a lighthearted suggestion may well be received as criticism. In addition, if you expect the conversation might get a little heated, never begin it just before bed. You want your bedroom to be safe place in which you feel connected and sexy.
- Profuse Appreciation - It is important to express gratitude for even the smallest shift toward your desired result. Most positive changes do not happen over night. Change may take place in several stages, since it is not always easy to break out of habitual patterns. When desired results are achieved, it's not uncommon for people to jump to the next request without acknowledging what has been accomplished. When you do this, your beloved receives the message that his efforts to please you only lead to new demands. This can create a sense of failure, and he may not see any reason to even try.
- Desires vs. Needs - In our culture these two words are often used interchangeably, yet they mean very different things. A need is something essential to your very survival, so it is important to avoid making requests in these terms. If you can express your requests as personal preferences or desires, there will be room for adjustment and mutuality in how you decide to proceed.
- Dialogue not Demand - Try to frame things as requests, not demands. This means checking in to see if your partner would truly like to fulfill your request and whether he's confident he'll be able to. If not, see if there is an alternative that would work for both of you.
- Seek Understanding - If, after a couple of discussions, his actions and your agreements are not aligned, check in with him, and say something like, “We agreed to make love earlier, so I won't be too tired, but we don't seem to be able to get to it before 9 pm. I want sex to be enjoyable for us both, so let's see what else we can do to get in the habit of making love at a time that's good for both of us.”
Be open and honest
Being open and honest, yet extremely sensitive to your partner’s feelings, is very important when talking about sex, said Dr. Fran Walfish, Beverly Hills relationship psychotherapist and author of The Self-Aware Parent, and expert co-star on Sex Box on WE TV.
“When it comes to sexual performance many people are exquisitely sensitive about being told what and how to do things. Never criticize, blame, or judge. Instead, praise every incremental gesture your makes toward 'feel-good' actions. Praise and reward does not always mean a patronizing, ‘Good job!’ Use sexy sounds by uttering ‘Ooh…,’ ‘Ummm,’ ‘More…’ and ‘That feels so good!”
Additional tips from Dr. Walfish:
- Always approach the bedroom squeaky clean. Shower regularly, lotion up, spray perfume (lightly). This not only makes you appealing to your partner but raises your personal confidence sexually.
- Initiate oral sex. Give this sexual pleasure to your partner with heartfelt generosity as a gift without any expectation. You'll be surprised at the good stuff that comes back to you tenfold.
- Women need to get more comfortable asking for their sexual needs and wants to be fulfilled. Men are better at this than women. From generation to generation, this has been a cultural issue. Women are better now than they in the 1930’s and 40’s but you’d be amazed at how many young women are still uncomfortable asking their guy to do specifics.
- Men also need to become more comfortable requesting frequency, speed, and the type of sex they want and need. Statistics show that men cheat more frequently than women. They are too quick to look elsewhere if they’re not getting what they need. Why not ask your lady for what you want and preserve fidelity in your relationship.
- Use your fantasies and shut your mouth. Do not share your fantasies with your partner. All telling does is stimulate rivalry, jealousy, and low self-esteem in the other partner.
- Put all of your worries in a box, lock the box, and leave it outside of the bedroom. If you’re worried about the kids, you will not have an orgasm. When the stock market goes down so does his erection. Free yourselves to enjoy the moment.
And most importantly, just have fun. Don’t take yourself too seriously in the bedroom. If something goes awry, then learn to laugh about it and move on to something else. Feeling confident and happy goes a long way toward having a fulfilling sex life with your partner.