For some reason, telling our partner what we want to change or try or stop in our sex lives is terrifying. According to Dr. Mimi Shagaga, Licensed Clinical Psychologist, it’s totally normal to feel uncomfortable at first. “Sex can be a taboo topic for many,” Dr. Shagaga said. “Oftentimes, this relates to the way sex was or was not discussed during our childhood/in our family of origin. It can also be a sensitive issue if one has insecurities around their sexuality or body image.”
But fear not, there are ways to talk to your partner about sex and make it as seamless as possible. Here are some foolproof (well, almost) conversation starters to help you have the best sex of your life.
Choose a time when you’re both calm and relaxed
Eliza Boquin, MA, LMFT, Licensed Psychotherapist and Sex Therapist, explained that the environment in which you talk to your partner about sex is important. Don’t try to talk to them during or just after sex, as it’s the time when we’re most vulnerable and could take something the wrong way. Make sure you’re talking to them when you’re both calm and when there won’t be any distractions. “Set aside some time and ask your partner first, ‘I’ve been wanting to talk to you about some ways I’d like to explore our sex life. Is this a good time?’” Boquin said.
What to say
If you’re unsure how to approach the conversation, Boquin provided some easy conversation starters to get you started:
- “How are you feeling about our sex life right now?”
- “How much pleasure do you get from our sex life?”
- “What do you like most about our sex life?”
- “Is there anything you’ve been afraid to share about your sexual desires? What was your greatest fear about how I’d respond?”
- “I really love it when you ___ during sex.”
- “There’s some things I’d love to explore with you. Is it OK if I tell you about them?”
- “Is there anything you wish I’d do more of during sex?”
- “Have you ever felt sexually shamed by me?”
- “How can I make it feel safer for us to talk about sex freely?”
Boquin explained that it’s important to make sure your partner doesn’t feel they are being attacked, and the easiest way to do that is reminding them of the great things they do. Ground the conversation in the parts of your sex life that you love and want to continue, and then move onto a discussion about what you’d like to change.
“It is important to communicate with your partner about what you do and do not like,” Dr. Shagaga said. “While this can be a tough conversation, the right partner will be open and responsive to that communication.”
How to address what you’d like to change
If you feel your needs aren’t being met, having a conversation about what you want is important. According to Boquin, first identify the needs you have that aren’t being met, and stand firmly in those. For example, your partner finishes before allowing you to orgasm and assumes sex is over after that. Or your partner is afraid to try oral sex, but you love it. The options are endless, and nothing is too small or too big to bring up with someone we’re having sex with. Boquin says then you should ask your partner if they’re OK with hearing some feedback, and if they say yes, “own it.” Be upfront and candid about what you’re missing. “Don’t place blame on your partner, simply share what you would like more of and what it would mean to you if you had more,” Boquin said. Boquin recommends saying something like, “Is it OK if I share with you something that’s been weighing on me in our sex life? I’ve realized I would really love to/ more of ____, and it’s been frustrating to not have that need met. Would you be willing to hear some ways you might be able to help me get more of those needs met?”
Boquin explained further that it’s possible your partner might not be able to meet your needs, and that doesn’t mean you need to abandon ship altogether. “Their boundaries may not align with your desires,” Boquin said. “This is where sex therapy can be helpful, because a sex therapist can help you navigate those gaps in desires.”
How to tell your partner you want to try something new
Telling your partner about the crazy, fantasy sex dream you had a few nights ago might garner the right results, but if they need an extra push in the butt, Boquin recommended saying something along the lines of, “So I’ve been having this fantasy about ____. What do you think? Is that something we could start exploring together?”
How to keep up the conversation later
So, you told your partner what you want to try, and everything seems fine and dandy now. But where do go from here? Dr. Shagaga explained that being honest, in all facets of your relationship, is key. “Being honest and straightforward is the best way to communicate needs whether they are sexual in nature or not,” Dr. Shagaga said. Keep this communication up in the future. Try something new that you discussed and don’t really like it? Or rather, you absolutely love it? Tell them! We deserve to feel good during sex, as do our partners, so it’s important to keep this line of communication open always.