A few years back I was a regular guest on a morning radio show where I took live calls from people about sex. Question after question came about how one could be a better lover, how they could get their partner to touch them differently, or how they could approach something new. And each time I asked, “well, have you talked to your partner?” and almost without exception the answer was “no.” They were hoping that I could give them all of the tips and tricks to improve sex with their partner without having to actually talk to their partner. You may find yourself in a similar boat, where you want to improve your sex life without actually having to talk about it.
You’re far from alone in this.
The reality is most of us started having sex LONG before we started learning how to talk about sex. We don’t have the skills, the language, or the comfort level to start having these conversations. Most of us might believe that good lovers shouldn’t have to talk about these things or that good sex just happens, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Cory Silverberg said it best:
“Many sex myths encourage us to believe that to be great lovers we need to be mind readers, not communicators. Communicating isn’t always about talking, but I can promise you that one of the keys to great sex is an ability to talk about it. I can also promise that it’s easier to learn to talk about sex than it is to learn to read minds.”
Learning how to talk about sex is like learning any other skill. Whether you are learning how to play a new instrument, cook a new recipe, or tackle a new hobby, the same level of patience, practice, and skill-building required to grow in those is all you need to grow in your ability to talk about sex.
Never had a conversation about sex? No problem. Here are some easy conversation starters to get you going:
- Own your intention: "Our sexual relationship matters to me and I'd love to talk about it. Is there a time that would work?"
- Lead with vulnerability: "We haven't talked about sex a whole lot but I'd love to try. I know it will be new for us and might feel awkward but it will be worth it."
- Send a simple text sharing what you love about their touch, kiss, smell...and let the conversation follow.
- Start with an apology: "I know we have fought about sex in the past and I'm really sorry. My hope is to learn how to talk about sex so our relationship can get better."
Once you get up the courage to have a conversation, here are some basic ground rules to support your success:
- Choose your timing - Find a time that is not late at night, right after a day of work, or right after sex. When you’re tired, hangry or vulnerable your chances of having a successful conversation go down.
- Set a timer - If you’re new to conversations just try 30 minutes. Set a timer. Having more frequent, smaller conversations can create a positive base.
- Lead with what you love - Who doesn’t love hearing what they’re doing well? When we lead out with what is working, what kind of touch we like, what we love about our partner, it can be easier to hear areas that could be adjusted.
- Keep on track - Conversations about sex, especially when you’re in the first stages, aren’t a time to vent about relationship frustrations. Have a conversation to talk about sex and stick to that.
For those wanting a bit more framework or structure in navigating early conversations like this, here's what one such conversation might look like. It's skill-building to review thoughts like these before having your own conversation:
Hey [lover, sweetheart, babe, boo]. I’d love to talk to you about sex. I know we haven’t talked much about sex, and sometimes when we have it’s not gone well, but I’d love to keep trying because it’s important! I want to feel more connected to you in our sex life. Let’s start with having a conversation about having a conversation:
What makes me excited about talking about sex is…
What makes me nervous about talking about sex is…
Because this is a new conversation that we are being intentional about, let’s talk about the things we like first:
What I would like more of is:
What I would love to try is:
What I would like to adjust or do differently is:
I want you to know that you matter to me and our sex life matters to me. It’s worth it to me to figure this out and keep growing together!