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10 steps to make talking about sex easier

It’s easy to have a conversation with our partner about things going on in each other’s lives, but when it comes to talking about sex, we often struggle to know what to say or how to express our true feelings; especially if things aren’t going that well in this department or if you’re shy! Most couples have a wonderful, well-practiced way of avoiding this conversation.

10 ways to ease talking about sex

Research has found that couples who talk about sex are actually having more satisfying sex, so follow these ten useful tips to increase the conversation:

  1. Time and place – Don’t bring up a sexual concern when you’re on your way to a family lunch or before fetching the kids. Agree in advance that you need to chat (not after a very long day or in the middle of a fight!) about sex. Remember to let your partner know how important this is to you and to respect your partner if they say this too. Make ground rules if you have to. If you want to ask your partner to do something differently during sex, ask gently, seductively and encouragingly. Tell them that you need them to move, change or start/stop something in the same way you’d like to be told. And if you’re partner guides you, remember it’s not personal; they simply know what is working for them and want to explore it.
  2. Prepare –All couples have different dynamics. One of you is likely a talker and the other a thinker. Remember to give each other space to do both. When your partner talks, maintain eye contact and actively listen. Don’t interrupt or think ahead what you want to answer (you’re not listening then). If you need to write down the main points of the conversation that is ok too – it means you are both paying full attention. By planning what you want to say to your partner, it may help you have a clearer idea in your mind of what you’d like more or less of. as well as be clear on how you say it – a very important aspect when it comes to talking sex.
  3. Reminisce – Want to relax a bit and ease into the conversation about sex? Start by reminiscing about a sexual experience you found particularly fun, adventurous or fulfilling. If you are struggling to think of such an experience, rather discuss small gestures that your partner does that you like, such as a hug at the end of the day or morning kiss.
  4. Never compare – Avoid comparisons to any previous experiences. Nothing can ever be gained from this approach. Don’t compare yourself to what you were both like when you first met if you have been together a long time. After many years together, you have grown and changed as people and so it will not be helpful to compare yourselves to what you once were – remember, it’s about defining “a new normal”. If you’re partner asks what they can do that someone else did for you, you need to gently address that nothing will be gained from a conversation like that, and that it is diverting you from the real conversation about the two of you. Tell your partner that you wish to talk about how you can change things, not how old habits can creep in to new adventures.
  5. Start kissing – We often forget how important the basics are, so don’t skip the “setup”, and make sure you’re arranging time for discussions, but before you start, spend 5 minutes just kissing each other. Many couples forget how important this is in their relationship. This will help you relax and ‘break the ice’. When we kiss, our hormones associated with attachment are elevated, stress hormones decrease, and our bond is strengthened. Once you’ve spent a little while locking lips, it seems easier to talk about what you would or wouldn’t like during sex. Always begin with the things that you like and expand on these. Be aware that some of what you or your partner suggest may push you out of your comfort zone, but that it might be fun to try together and if it doesn’t work then you can discuss why, compromise or move forward.
  6. Don’t procrastinate – If you make a commitment to try something new, don’t procrastinate. It will only stir up negative feelings and may increase anger and resentment. If you commit to something, make sure you follow through.
  7. Positives not negatives – It’s much better to focus on the positive and help them understand how those work for you and turn you on. If you like it when you’re partner uses their hands to bring you pleasure, then tell them! Explaining what they are not good at is not productive and helpful. Rather guide them– tell them exactly what you need more of (more tongue, more softness, a little to the left etc.) rather than dismissing them.
  8. Start slow – telling each other one thing that you like in the bedroom is a great way to start up conversation. You don’t have to spell out all your fantasies and desires immediately. Or you could each take a turn saying the following and mirroring back (without question or debate) something like “I really love it when you… I don’t like it as much when you…”
  9. Let go of embarrassment – but it’s okay if you feel it! Sex is not an easy topic for people, so you may feel awkward talking to your partner about it. It’s ok to feel embarrassed, it’s ok to laugh about it and at yourselves. Be patient and know that it takes time to get comfortable. The more you talk about it, the more you’ll feel open and at ease, and from what research tells us, the more sex you’ll have.
  10. Write it down – If you’re struggling to get the words out, why not write them down? A sexy text with one thing you really like that your partner does, or a sexy letter explaing what you’d like to try and how they are included can really spark desire in the relationship.

About Catriona Boffard

Catriona Boffard

Catriona Boffard is a Sexologist, Cognitive-Behavioural Therapist, Sexuality Researcher & Educator and Author. She is a globally recognized authority on sex, and has delivered her expert advice on TV, radio, corporate and public platforms. She is an expert in the field of sexual behaviour and well-being, with a particular interest in helping couples reestablish their sexual intimacy and empowering women to embrace their sexuality. She works from a biopsychosocial perspective; assessing and treating clients through an integrative approach which explores the physiological, psychological and social factors behind their concerns.

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