How to Talk About Sex With Your Partner
Break out in a nervous sweat any time you try to bring up new ideas or preferences in bed? Try these tips to take the awkward out of sex talk with your partner.
No matter how intimate you are under the sheets, actually talking to your partner about what you want and need from your sex life can sometimes make you feel as awkward and vulnerable as if you accidentally showed up at the office in your underwear. The reason is pretty clear, says sex and relationship educator Laura Berman, PhD, author of Loving Sex: The Book of Joy and Passion. “Most of us were taught that sex talk is taboo or should be hush-hush, so we didn’t grow up with the permission to talk about it,” she says. “That’s why sex becomes a very vulnerable, high-stakes component of our relationships and can cause us to question ‘Am I good enough?’ It's an undercurrent that’s unspoken even with someone you trust.”
But getting over the awkwardness and having an honest conversation can bring the two of you closer—not to mention add some extra zing to your love life. Here are 5 ways to have a sex talk without embarrassment:
“Instead of talking about sex while you’re in the middle of it, talk about it the morning after, when you’re still feeling that connection and after-glow,” says Dr. Berman. Rather than critique, she says, always start with something positive. “Say something like ‘I love our sex life’ or ‘Last night was so great, and I was thinking it would also really turn me on if you…’” If you bring up these topics in a positive way, the conversation reflects an investment in your sex life, she says.
The conversation must be two-sided, so you’ll need to listen to and consider what your partner has to say. “Let’s say your partner is asking for more sex, and that’s an issue for you in the bedroom,” says Dr. Berman. “Try this: Say ‘I hear what you’re saying, but I want more of an ability to anticipate and plan so I can get in the mood and be prepared for a really good sexual exchange.’”
Giving your partner a few solid ideas for how to ramp up the romance will be much more effective than just saying “The thrill is gone,” says Dr. Berman, who suggests you give two or three examples of what you’d like to try in the bedroom. “You could even bring a book about technique, or mention that during your recent trip to the intimacy aisle you found some new products that could heat things up,” she says.
If you're still worried about tripping over your words when you initiate this conversation, consider writing down your feelings and suggestions in a loving letter to your partner. “Writing it down can be an excellent precursor for a larger conversation, especially if talking about some of these things really makes you cringe,” says Dr. Berman. “ Ask your partner to read your letter and then set up a time to sit down and discuss it.”
“If your plan was to improve your sex life, then accept the awkwardness, especially if you hear things that make you uncomfortable,” says Dr. Berman, who adds that getting through the difficult moment can help you shed your inhibitions—which, in itself, will help give your love life a boost. “You’ll not only be more in your body, but you’ll enjoy the act more and you’ll feel more comfortable advocating for your needs,” she says.