Whether you’re in a new relationship or have been with the same partner for years, feeling empowered, safe and heard in the bedroom is so important…but it’s not always that simple. Sex may be taboo or hard to talk about for some folks for so many reasons. In some communities or families, talking about sex is unacceptable, uncomfortable, and unexplored.

If you’ve ever been embarrassed, made fun of, or talked down to about sex or your needs after making yourself vulnerable, it may feel like you want to run away at just the thought of this kind of discussion. Vulnerability is hard!

Each individual’s past experiences, what they bring to a relationship and to sex is layered and complicated. The good news? We can all learn a thing or two about how to ease into this kind of communication. In no time you’ll be able to effectively translate from your head into reality what you need, want and most importantly, what you deserve! Read on for a little insight about how to do the deed….of talking about sex.

photo by kristen kilpatrick

Remember: It takes two to tango.

Having sex is about mutual satisfaction between two people. You’re both a part of this and you’re both important. Often times one person in a relationship feels more responsibility or motivation to please the other person, putting their own needs on the back burner.

Don’t forget that satisfying your partner is just one piece in the equation, you deserve to be taken care of too!

We love and care about our partners and it can even be sexy and fun to satisfy them, however if you don’t receive the same satisfaction yourself, it’s not uncommon to feel burnt out or disinterested over time. This basis of mutual satisfaction is the concept I want everyone to understand and resonate with moving into a conversation. It also doesn’t hurt – if you feel comfortable – to gently forward this article to your partner before you talk (accompanied by the eggplant emoji obviously).

photo by wynn myers

Choose your time for a conversation wisely.

Choosing a time when no one is feeling vulnerable, exposed or heavily critiqued is a big deal. Often times our frustration and even anger about dissatisfaction peaks during sex and afterwards as you’re hanging out – naked as newborn baby in bed (literally the most exposed), it might seem like a good time to talk. It’s not. I promise you want to save this conversation. Try either scheduling a conversation or bringing things up naturally when you both have a little down time. I like the context of a relaxed dinner together or a weekend couch session with tea.

Get cozy and comfy and make the space feel safe.

Here’s a nice and easy relaxed opener for you (start with a deep breath if you’re nervous): “Hey babe, I was wondering if you have some time to chat about something that’s been on my mind.” See? It’s that easy to get started! Let the person agree to having this conversation. Vulnerability is easier if there’s a little control involved.

photo by jessica attie

Open the Conversation for Participation

One way to make this conversation feel less accusatory or reprimanding is to ask about your sex life together and address your partners desires too. If you frame everything in the context of “we,” it’s not all about what the other person is or isn’t doing. This approach can be helpful for people who don’t do well with criticism (that’s a lot of us).

Frame the conversation as a check in.

Here are some highlights and ways to keep it mutual and positive:

1. Hey – I’m just curious how you feel about our sex life? (After your partner is done they may ask you how you feel naturally, or you can take your turn expressing your feelings.)

2. Do you have any desires or things that would be helpful for me to know?

3. There are a few things I want to share with you about ways to turn me on.

4. I want you to know what I really enjoy in bed.

5. I think it’s really sexy when….

6. One time you did this, (insert something you love in bed), and I’m still thinking about it…

Things hopefully should flow if you keep it open, loving, and non-judgemental. This conversation is all about staying gentle while asking for what you want – a delicate balance for sure but definitely possible!

photo by kristen kilpatrick

The Positivity Sandwich.

This is an awesome communication tool for sensitive subjects and one that can be especially helpful to use with someone you love and care about. The idea is to decrease vulnerability and negativity by sandwiching your requests / needs between two things that the other person does in bed that you love.

Example: I love when you do _____ in bed, its my favorite. I would also really love if you could  try something like this ____. I always appreciate how you _____ when we’re together.

This way they get a little jolt of love and are more receptive to change. It may sound excessive but think about the last time you received criticism – it can be hard! It never hurts to boost someone up first.

Don’t be afraid to be specific and ask for exactly what you want – your partner’s job is not to read your mind.

After your conversation you might even offer to turn that afternoon couch and tea session into a teaching opportunity. Cue the song “afternoon delight.”

photo by dagny piasecki

Give positive feedback in the moment:

While you’re in this phase of trying new things together to increase mutual satisfaction don’t forget to give lots of positive feedback in the moment. It’s really helpful to hear what you like and don’t like while it’s happening.

Go ahead – be a little dramatic.

If your partner is doing something you love – really make sure it’s clear you’re l o v i n g that. If they’re doing something that is uncomfortable or not your favorite gently redirect – “ooh babe, thats not my favorite – can you try this instead?” ‘In the moment’ feedback feels more organic and like you’re both working towards the same goal – which you’ve hopefully talked about by now – mutual satisfaction.

photo by Kate LeSueur

Set up another check in.

Let your partner know that you care about checking in regarding your sex life together. It’s really easy to get busy (especially if you already have kids) or just avoid talking about sex altogether. I would encourage you to break out of that pattern and plan another check in one month or so from your initial chat. Successful communicative relationships take work, openness and lots of feedback, especially if you’re starting in a tough place to begin with.

Keep your expectations in check.

Sex can take a long time to turn around from where it’s been hanging out for a while. If you’re seeing improvement over time – be patient – your sex life won’t all of a sudden be totally different overnight after a little afternoon tea time. Like any relationship, it takes work. The more you relay your needs and desires, the more positive feedback you give and the more you learn about each others bodies, desire and needs – the better it will get. If you hit a standstill – don’t be afraid to check in again. If you really feel stuck – sex therapy is totally a thing and it is so OKAY to find someone to help. Sometimes some mediation and helping your partner understand how normal it is to work on things like this may be just what you need to sail that ship in the other direction. And, don’t forget to have fun.

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