Sex is probably one of the hardest things to talk about with a partner. It’s easy to take things personally because sex is deeply personal.
Confessing your desires and asking for what you want takes courage and trust that your partner is going to hold your feelings with care. If sex is difficult for you to talk about the best thing to do is to start talking, but do it in a way that keeps you both feeling heard and understood.
Sometimes it’s helpful to have a structure to follow. This can help you move through the emotional obstacles. You can use my 10 Tips for Sharing Your Sexual Desires and get started today:
1. Put aside dedicated time for your conversation about sex
Wait till you’re both relaxed and your minds are clear from work, kids, chores, unresolved disagreements etc. Turn off your phones (seriously!). Get cozy, make physical contact. Set the scene for exploring feelings and be ready to listen deeply. This isn’t about trying to get someone to do what you want them to. It’s about confessing your desires and listening to theirs.
Don’t wait till you’re exhausted at the end of the day. Carve out moments for conversation when you have the energy to talk and listen. Many of my clients are self-conscious about closing their bedroom door during the day for alone time if they have family in the house. Show your family members that you prioritize and value your relationship by taking time to nurture it, whether it’s for talking, cuddling or sex. That’s good modeling!
2. Take turns
It never works for two people to share at the same time. If one of you is sharing, the other only needs to listen until they’re finished talking. Stay open-hearted and open-minded without words or looks of judgment and shaming.
Don’t interrupt. Be patient until they’ve said what they want to say.
When they’re complete, you can ask if there’s anything else they’d like to say just to see if there’s more. And then thank them for sharing.
3. Ask them how they’re feeling about sharing their desires
They may have been very nervous about it and now feel relieved to have shared it. They may feel suddenly embarrassed or afraid of being rejected.
Be sensitive to how they may be feeling, and remember that our erotic minds are all unique. We can’t fully understand where our desires come from, but we can listen with an open and curious heart.
4. Ask open-ended questions and get curious about your partner
Many people have trouble asking for what they want sexually. Some don’t honestly believe they deserve to get what they want, so be a receptive listener. Right now this is about them. Not you.
Here are some examples of open-ended questions.
Approach these questions with a mood of curiosity and open-mindedness. Keep it safe for your partner to share honestly, in a judgement-free zone.
Any one of these can open the door to some intimate sharing that can lead to both of you feeling more connected and accepted.
What are some of your favorite sexual occasions we’ve shared together, and why?
What’s your favorite way for me to let you know I’m in the mood for sex?
When do you find yourself most attracted to me, and why?
What 5 parts of your body do you enjoy having touched the most?
What time of the day works best for you to have sex, and why?
Is there something sexual you’ve always wanted to explore together, but have been too shy to tell me about?
5. When you’ve had time for some questions and answers, notice what you’re feeling
Are you feeling threatened that your sexual tastes might be different?
Are you feeling pressured to do something you don’t want to do?
Are you feeling insecure that your partner may not want you if you don’t share the same desires?
Can you communicate difficult feelings without blaming them for making you feel that way?
Perhaps you’re feeling touched that your partner has spoken their truth, and demonstrated their trust in you to hear it.
Think of conversations about sex as a new born baby. Protect it from harm. Hold it tenderly. Nurture it with loving attention.
Take turns in sharing your own desires, knowing your partner is now holding the safe space for you to open up and share your desires and feelings about sex.
6. Stay honest and caring in how you express your desires, taking each other’s feelings into account
If difficult feelings come up, stay with them. This is where you can both practice your communication skills.
If someone gets triggered, listen to their fears with empathy.
Sometimes that’s all it takes for those fears to subside.
It’s a process of learning and accepting each other that doesn’t happen overnight. Trust is built by consistent, small gestures, not grand promises.
7. Even if your partner’s chosen activity isn’t your cup of tea, be curious about what turns them on about it
Listen to their thoughts and insights about it. Be open to the possibility that you may discover your own turn-on while trying something new.
If one person prefers tender lovemaking and an evening of romance, make a date to fill their cup with exactly what they desire, down to the details. If the other wants to get tied up and objectified, plan a time to give them that experience so they get their cup filled as well.
When you give your partner an experience you know they’re loving but it’s not quite your thing, draw from the sheer pleasure of enjoying their turn-on, knowing you’re giving them what they want from a generous and loving heart. You can trust that out of that same generous spirit, they will do the same for you when the time is right.
Your primary sexual needs may not line up but you may both find yourself expanding your sexual menus to include a variety of experiences. If your partner was your sexual clone, your sex life would lack the erotic tension that can come with difference. When we apply some creativity to our differences we can tap into a polarized energy that creates the kind of passion so often missing in relationships.
8. Keep the words flowing
Our words let others into our hearts, our fears, our vulnerability. When we open up to our partners and share our inner erotic worlds, we’re saying I want to be intimate with you. I want you to know who I am.
9. Bring an open-hearted curiosity to each other’s erotic minds
Judgment closes the door to learning and creates a lack of trust in others.
A roll of the eyes, a snide comment, a joke, a look of disapproval, silence, all have the power to close the subject down, never to be talked about again.
Remember, your partner is no more responsible for their erotic turn-ons, than they are the color of their eyes.
Rather than seeing difference as a problem, learn how differences broaden the playing field. Get curious about your partner’s erotic mind and celebrate a full-spectrum kind of love.
10. Begin to make these conversations part of your life together
Once you begin to listen to your partners needs without taking on the responsibility to solve their frustrations or even meet their desires, sex becomes an interesting subject.
We can hear pretty much anything our partner has to say, if we can feel the love under the words.
Most arguments are embedded with fear. Fear that we’ll lose love or acceptance.
If we begin sensitive conversations by reassuring our partner that they are loved and respected, fear will be replaced with curiosity and interest.
You may find that you have compatible desires with your partner or you may discover that your sexual desires are vastly different. If there’s disappointment, talk about it without blame. It’s common for a couple to have different sexual preferences. It’s also possible to learn how to meet each other’s desires.
If you want to learn more about how to lay your sexy heart on the table, or you need some help in even knowing what your desires are, I will be your guide on that journey.
Confirmation bias. We all have it. We experience it every day in the news, in our politics, in our workplace, and most directly in our relationships, where partners can suffer the consequences of confirmation bias on a daily basis. When it comes to our relationship it makes sense then that our brains are far more skilled at noticing what’s wrong with our partner, than what’s right.
Vulnerability is actually a gift that descends upon us when we stop pretending to have it all together and admit to our human flaws and fragility. It’s a gift we give to ourselves and our partner, because it shifts our state from one of closed-off superficiality, to one of feeling and deep sharing. When one partner in a couple opens the door to vulnerability, they create space for their partner to join them there, and it’s in that space of shared vulnerability where hearts connect and intimacy is experienced.
Sex is probably one of the hardest things to talk about with a partner. It’s easy to take things personally because sex is deeply personal. Confessing your desires and asking for what you want takes courage and trust that your partner is going to hold your feelings with care. If sex is difficult for you to talk about the best thing to do is to start talking, but do it in a way that keeps you both feeling heard and understood.
One of the most defining moments in my life was losing a brother when I was 14 years old. One day he was there, and the next day he was gone. Life's big lessons are irrefutable, and usually hold within them great wisdom. When you lose a family member, you never forget that impermanence is built into existence, and with every loss comes a second lesson which is equally important to understand. Here’s the confronting truth about life that’s hard to avoid, but easy to ignore. You’re going to lose everything and everyone you care about in life.