Most of us know how to communicate - we know when to say "no" to something we don't want to do (most of the time) and "yes" to things we do want to do.
So why is it so hard to communicate what we want in bed?
A study published in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy stated that sharing sexual needs and desires positively correlates to the overall relationship satisfaction in a partnership.
But, most of us have no clue how to do it.
Why We Freak Out About Sex
If you're like most, just talking about sex can nerve-wracking, let alone actually communicating to your partner what you want. Why, though, is it so hard to talk about sex?
Sunny Rodgers, a clinical sexologist and sex coach says, "What I have encountered the most is that people avoid talking to their partners about what they want in bed because they fear embarrassment and/or rejection. And in some instances, people don’t want to hurt their partner’s feelings.”
We are often afraid our partner won't accept a discussion about our sexual desires, needs, or lack of satisfaction.
Rodgers also said, “Clients have shared with me that they don’t want their partners to judge them for their sexual desires in case their partner thinks their request is strange or out of character... And a few other clients feel intimidated about sex in general and can’t fathom discussing it with their partners.”
So how do we approach these uncomfortable and awkward convos?
One way to do so is to reframe the way you think. Keep in mind that your partner is likely just as uncomfortable as you about sex. When you take the initiative, they'll likely be relieved!
Approach the conversation with an open mind - let your partner this conversation is about the two of you and your relationship.
“Let them know that they don’t have to confide everything at once, nor do they have to actually say the words,” Rodgers says. “Sometimes showing your partner what you’d like in the bedroom by guiding their hands, can be even more effective than explaining your needs to them. If they hear your breath quickening, that in itself speaks a thousand words.”
Come from a Positive Place
Remember that your partner is your partner - have some faith in them! They are most likely willing to do anything to make you happy - especially when it comes to enhancing your sexual experience.
The best way to start a sex-related conversation is to compliment your partner. (Wouldn't you be way more likely to listen to someone who compliments you first?).
For example, if you want more oral sex, tell your partner than their oral sex is AMAZING and that you want more of it. Or, if you want more foreplay, let them know how sexy you feel when they do it and that you'd love to incorporate that into your routine more.
And if you'd like to try something new, try asking your partner about their sexual fantasies. Try telling them how much you want to try X position or doing X thing. PS - if you're not up to speaking face-to-face, why not try sexting?
Check-In from Time to Time
Don't just have one conversation and never speak about it again. As with any relationship, open and honest communication is key. And, the more you practice, the better you'll be.
Once you've started incorporating positive sexual behavior into your vocabulary, try setting up regular check-ins. You can start with monthly check-ins and work your way to weekly or, whatever feels most comfortable to you.
It's an ever-changing and ongoing process - trust us, sexuality is never in stasis!
During your check-ins, chat about your current sex life and bring up things you want - whether that be increased intimacy, toys you want to bring to the bedroom, more attention to certain body parts, and more.
Whatever your wants and desires are, it's important to establish a relationship with your partner where it's okay to talk about sex - without judgment. (That really goes for any topic, tbh!)
Why not try making it a fun, sexy game? Sex is about play and fun more than anything else, right? One tip Rodgers has for both of you "to write down three new sexual things they'd like to try during the upcoming month." She suggests writing your ideas on pieces of paper and putting them in a bowl. Put the bowl in your bedroom and when it's time for date night (or even a quickie), take turns reaching in and pulling out a sexy suggestion.
“Some requests can be – ‘Please wear your high heels during sex’ and ‘I would love to try wearing an eye mask during lovemaking,'" Rodgers says.
As with any new topic or conversation, talking about your sexual needs and desires will take time and practice. It won't happen overnight, but always keep an open mind and come from a place of kindness.