Even amid a full-blown pleasure revolution wherein a sex-positive landscape is absolutely the accepted norm, fact remains that talking about sex with a partner is not necessarily easy. Even after getting comfortable with the idea of bringing up an issue related to sex with a partner–whether that includes a suggestion, a preference, a new idea to try, or anything else—making sure your message is effective for speaking your piece without hurting their feelings can be a minefield of its own. Not to worry, though: In a recent Instagram post, the Gottman Institute, which provides research-backed insights and learnings to maximize relationship success, shared four golden rules about talking with your partner about sex…and, relatedly, the keys to getting the pleasure you want.
And to be sure, the two components are connected. Even if talking about sex might not be your most favorite brand of conversation, research supports that couples who communicate about sex are genuinely more sexually satisfied. And, when you think about it, that makes total sense. When you communicate your needs, you get better results—in a relationship or otherwise. Likewise, talking about sex with a partner may not only fan the flames of desire during a dry spell, but also provide for increased emotional closeness. So, really, it is win-win if you’re willing to get brave and talk it out from time to time.
Below, find the four golden rules for talking about sex with your partner that can yield increased closeness and pleasure for all.
1. Be kind and positive
Let’s say you want to propose trying a new technique in the bedroom, which is great but might make your partner feel as if those the current methods you lean upon are, well, lacking. In this case, you can be intentional in focusing on what you love instead of what’s not currently working.
For more specifics, steer clear of feedback like, “Why are you fingering me like you’re looking for car keys in my vagina?” And instead, skew more toward positive reinforcement, like, “You know, I really love it when you stroke me this way.” And then show them. If you have a receptive lover, they’ll be here for the feedback, especially if you’re mindful of compassion in your delivery.
2. Be patient
People have differing levels of sexual experience and different levels of openness to talking about sex with a partner. Perhaps this starts with having learned about sex in such a way that stigma of shame is attached. So, if your partner seems afraid to get verbal (and not just with dirty talk), be patient. You can start talking about sex by addressing your general relationship, then move to sex, and then go from there.
3. Don’t take it personally
If you get told that your tongue technique is a little less than savory from your partner’s POV, you may feel stung. But, hey, it certainly doesn’t mean your partner doesn’t love you or love having sex with you! It also doesn’t mean they they’re not attracted to you if they’re simply not in the mood on a particularly night. Work to de-personalize criticism as much as possible, and look at mid- or post-coital feedback as an ongoing lesson in optimizing your sex life together.
4. Make accommodations
The truth is, you and your partner might have vastly different sexual preferences, kinks, or fantasies. That might mean that compromises are in order for you to satisfy one another and grow together intimately. In this case, compromise means having open communication about your respective interests, in staying curious, and remaining open-minded. Remember, “no” is and always will be a full sentence when it comes to consent. But if after talking about sex with your partner, you feel comfortable and safe in trying something new, you might be surprised about how “yes” can turn into an “Oh yes!”
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