Everyone says "tell your partner what you want" ... here's how to actually do so.
Everywhere you turn, a new article touts the importance of talking about sex openly with your partner. Communicate. Tell him what you want and don't want. Right?
Well, yes, that is a great idea. But, has anyone ever told you how to effectively have that sex conversation?
If you're like most women, you feel pure embarrassment when you open your mouth to raise the topic.
After all, remember the rule — "nice" girls don't talk about sex. Or, worse, if a man forces himself on you, it's your fault for being open — for leading him on by talking about wanting anything sexual in the first place. Or, so society tells us.
For most women, the second the topic of talking openly about sex comes up, they feel shut down by sensations of sexual shame.
Of course, logically, you know there's nothing "wrong" with talking openly with your partner about sex. However, it's easier said than done, right?
So, I want to suggest a few things before you leap directly into having the big conversation (which really is an essential step in having the best love life possible).
Here are some important ways to get yourself ready to dip your toe into positive sexual expression:
1. Give yourself permission to feel uncomfortable. If it's difficult to talk about what you want sexually, that's OK. Find friends to discuss it with first. Laugh together over the discomfort. You're doing something new, so you can have more connection and pleasure in your relationship. What a terrific motivation. Go for it.
2. Sort your thoughts out first. As you begin to explore this forbidden area, taking it on as a serious project, begin by figuring out what works for you sexually — without your partner around. Think about what you like and don't. What serves you? Before you can talk about sex, first clarify in your mind what you want to communicate in general. Like, what do you want more of, with your partner? What do you want less of? What do you find difficult or un-arousing? What really turns you on?
Try writing this down first ... just the privacy of you and your computer (or a piece of paper) — where no one else needs to know. You can always delete it if you worry about someone reading your thughts. This is just for you, no one else.
Take your time. Write just enough to start feeling a little discomfort. You don't have to complete it all at once. This is a safe step in figuring out what you want sexually. Next, is figuring out how to say it to your partner.
3. Clarify what sexual words you like ... and don't. What words make you cringe? Play with the words in your head to see what seems OK and what is a just a major "no way!"
Try these on. Do you prefer your partner to say "vagina?" Are you okay with him saying, "pussy?" What about "cunt?" And do you prefer the word "penis," "dick" or "cock"?
Notice how you feel when you read, write, or say these words. If they all feel fine, GREAT! But if you feel that uncomfortable shame reaction rising, pay attention. You can choose to not use those words.
Figuring out which sexual words you like and truly dislike helps you set boundaries in future sexual conversations.
4. Schedule time to talk. Are you, finally, ready to talk with your partner? If so start by setting a safe mood. Don't attempt this conversation when you're naked and vulnerable or when you're in the midst of having sex. It's better to set up a meeting ahead of time, fully clothed, at a time when you're both likely to feel relaxed and open to each other.
Ask him if he is willing to discuss sex. Tell him that you're a little scared, embarrassed, nervous, and anything else you feel. Ask him to hang out with you while you work your way through the emotions.
Give yourself permission to not say it all during the first conversation. Let him know that you're just starting the process of the two of you opening up this way with each other.
There's a chance he's more comfortable talking about sex and body parts than you are. So ask him to, please, go at your pace. The outcome is talking openly, but you need to gradually reduce your discomfort along the way. Make sure he knows this.
Take your time. The shame attached to sex will gradually fall away, offering you the freedom you're after. But it won't happen completely in a day or even a week ... let alone in one conversation.
So ... keep practicing!
Open communication about what you want/don't want helps you use sex in creative, loving ways that enhances your relationship. Comfort with the subject is a vital and wonderful step towards enjoying sex for its intended purpose — connecting you together, as a couple, in wonderful ways.
To listen in on how Eva and Roberta practiced talking about sex before bringing it up with their husbands, go to the article, Ways to Talk About Sex. If you prefer my personal input and guidance, I talk with people by phone or Skype. Simply email me at AnneStirlingHastings@gmail.com to schedule a private conversation.