Talking to your partner about sex? Can be a scary prospect.
The ugly truth is that nobody can read their lover’s mind. The romantic myth says that our lovers (if they really love us) should somehow instinctively know to please us sexually. And we them. But in reality, lovers are mostly guessing what their partner likes in bed. And most of the time, as we discover in therapy, many couples are quite mistaken.
“He loves it when sex is always wet. But for me it gets so sticky and messy I just can’t stand it!”, Julie, a 32 year old says. He responds with “No I don’t! I just don’t like it when it is too dry! I get worried that I’m hurting you.”
Too often we see both lovers with the best of intentions making guesses at what is going on for their lover instead of talking about what they like. In the process they go without communicating their own sexual needs. And both are left with at best, misunderstandings, and at worst, resenting their partner for not being their sexual ideal.
For most couples monogamy means all sexual needs are exclusively met inside the relationship. Our partner has to be everything to us sexually. Other non-sexual needs are easily met from friends or family. For example, we don’t insist our partner gives up watching the Stanely Cup playoffs (or the Super Bowl) because we don’t fancy it. He/she can simply watch those games with family. We don’t insist our partner like the same movies because we can go to that romcom with a friend. But sex is different. Since we cannot go outside the relationship, our partner has to be everything to us.
And frankly that belief is unrealistic and can be destructive to the relationship and sexual fulfillment. We are by nature distinctly different from each other in our sexual preferences — liking distinct activities, frequency and manners of sex.
- Sexual frequency may differ:
You might be completely fine with having sex one time per month, your partner is champing at the bit for seven times.
- What you like in sex might differ:
You might like slow sensual touches, while your partner is only thinking of how to get fucked in the ass.
- Pace and intensity of sex may differ:
You may like it hard and fast, while your partner lingers in sensual bliss.
No wonder so few couples are enjoying sex! Sexual communication becomes crucial to a great sex life.
Where to start?
Here are a few jumping off points to start your productive conversation about sex:
- Start slow. Ask your partner a less sexual question to ease into the topic. Questions like…Do we buy into the stereotype that the man is supposed to be more knowledgeable about sex and women more naive? What does that mean for our love life?
- Use non-verbal communication too. Do not only rely on the spoken word. Sometimes it is difficult to say things and is easier to guide a hand or demonstrate what you like.
- Use erotica, sexy films or a sexual contract. Often it is difficult to bring up our sexual preferences for fears of being judged. When we see others doing what we like, or see it in black and white, it can be easier to talk about with a partner.
- Start with a non-judgemental, open attitude. What turns your partner on is sacred to them. Judge them and you are criticising a deeply vulnerable part of them.
- Sex therapy is one of the most important things you can do at the “beginning” of your relationship.