While our culture is more and more open and honest about everything and anything, couples can still find it hard to talk to each other about physical intimacy. A dating couple who have fun texting each other sexy photographs of themselves, for example, may find it difficult to inquire about their partner’s climax or lack thereof. Partners who have a baby together, a very intimate and intense experience, might find it hard to talk about changes in their level of desire. And established couples, who’ve lived a lot of life together, might be confronted with new questions about their sexual performance that seem too big to discuss. It’s never easy, but there are ways for couples to discuss their sexual experience, and in doing so, feel closer and more connected.
Why do two people who are in fact intimately involved physically and emotionally find it difficult to talk about their physical intimacy? We know instinctively that criticism kills romance, and can potentially kill the relationship, so we avoid difficult subjects as a way to protect the relationship. Protecting the other person’s feelings is a good instinct, and is a good frame of mind in which to start a conversation, but isn’t a reason to avoid the conversation. Couples find it hard to talk about their sex together because in our “tweeted” and “hash-tagged” lives, we are inundated with information, 99 percent of which is unimportant, and 1 percent of which is super valuable. You may have done the hard work to know 100 percent of the facts of your partner’s life—the unimportant incidents and super impactful experiences. But do you know 100 percent about your sex life? You are there for the whole experience, but you probably can only identify your experience. When it comes to sex, the missing 1 percent that takes sex to that next level of connection is understanding your partner’s experience. It takes talking about the details of the experience and how you were both individually affected to understand what it was like to be your partner in that moment.
Start by talking about your experience and how it affected you. Emphasize the nice or special things your partner did for you that made you feel loved. Then acknowledge your partner by asking how your intimate experience together affected him or her, or if there is something he or she would like you to repeat in the future or do differently altogether. In the moment, tell your partner what you enjoy and, in turn, ask if what you’re doing is pleasurable. Then see where the conversation/communication leads. Some couples find it easy to speak about intimacy and make positive changes in the bedroom. But for most couples, it takes a few times of talking about their experience to develop comfortable communication around intimacy, and make the desired changes. Regardless of whether it comes naturally to you or if you need more time to develop comfort around speaking about intimacy, it is a necessary part of a successful relationship. It’s time to check in verbally with your partner to enhance your sex and your relationship.
- Discuss. At least once this month, talk about your sexual experience with your partner before, during, immediately after, or the day after. Whenever feels most comfortable to open up about your intimacy is the best time.
- Acknowledge. Once a day, acknowledge your partner’s efforts in everyday life moments. For example, instead of simply complimenting your partner on a nice meal he or she prepared, ask if your partner enjoys preparing dinner and if there’s something you can do to make your partner’s experience of preparing dinner more enjoyable. Open communication about everyday life can translate to better communication in regards to intimacy. Plus, a partner who feels appreciated is inherently more connected to their partner. Better connection enhances your everyday relationship and your intimate relationship.
- Give. Keep in mind that talking about your sexual satisfaction with your partner is a gift you give your relationship. It’s not selfish. It can enhance not only your intimacy but also your partnership in general.