Do you sometimes wonder if you and your partner(s) are effectively communicating about your sexual desires and interests? How about that craving for more intimacy in your relationship(s) but talking about desires and interests are challenging? Wonder if you and your partner are good at sexual communication? Take the below quiz and find out.
Rank the following questions on a scale of 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). Keep track of your points.
- My partner(s) rarely talks to me when I want to talk about our sex lives (scale 1-5).
- Some sexual matters are too upsetting to discuss with my sexual partner(s).
- I think it is difficult for my partner(s) to tell me what she/he/they like to do sexually.
- My partner(s) and I never seem to resolve our disagreements about sexual matters.
- Whenever my partner(s) and I talk about sex, I feel like she/he/they are lecturing me.
- My partner(s) often complains that I am not very clear about what I want sexually.
Scoring: If your final score was between 6-12, you are probably communicating with limited concerns or challenges. If you scored between 13-24, you may be experiencing some challenges in communication. If you scored higher than 25, you are probably experiencing some communication challenges in your relationship(s). No matter your score, it is important to know that sexual communication is not comfortable for most people, especially in the U.S. Americans are fairly conservative regarding sexual communication and experience a great deal of discomfort.
Tips to enhance sexual communication
Tip #1: Use “I” statements
The top barrier in communication between partners is the use of “you” statements. You never listen to me when I tell you what I like. You avoid talking to people when we go to the club? “You” statements become a barrier because they can be heard as accusations or threats. When we feel under attack, we activate our innate life-saving fight, flight, or freeze responses. Use of “you” statements typically provokes these responses. Our fight response means we respond argumentatively and we may seem defensive. Our flight response means that we might leave the discussion and may seem that we are avoiding the issue. Our freeze response means that we become immobile, unresponsive. This makes us appear as if we are present, but we our minds are trying to find a way out.
Instead, try using “I” statements. I sometimes feel that you are not listening to me. I actually like it when I see you turned on by another person. Focusing your communication from the “I” perspective allows more space for your partner(s) to hear you without experiencing a fight, flight, or freeze response. Instead, this approach pulls your partner(s) into the conversation. Limit your “I-You” statements as well. I think you should listen to me does not count as an “I” statement. I want to tell you about how I’m feeling about that couple we met last night is a better use of the “I-You” statement. Still, try to limit these when possible.
Tip #2 Tell your partner(s) about your desires, interests, and fantasies
Some people are uncomfortable with the term “intimacy.” However, intimacy is all about the emotional connection with your partner(s), which is exactly what communication brings about in a relationship. Sharing your sexual desires, interests, and fantasies creates an connection between you and the person(s) with which you become vulnerable. I know, I know. People also don’t like the term “vulnerable.” But this too is exactly what open communication is all about. We must be vulnerable with our partner in order to enhance intimacy. All of this encourages growth in your relationship(s) and strengthens communication between partners. And, as it turns out, exploring our desires and fantasies helps us feel “normal,” that we are not so different. If you’re interested in learning more about desires and fantasies, I strongly encourage you to read Tell Me What You Want by Justin Lehmiller. We highly recommend this book…and, no, we are not making money off of that recommendation.
Want to explore your fantasies with your partner? Make a game of it…even a drinking game, if you are so inclined. Tell your partner what sex act or sex position you like. If they agree, they drink…or kiss your neck. If your partner(s) is not interested in that specific act or position, you drink or kiss their neck. Take turns and explore your desires. Here’s the thing, as the game continues, you have to up the ante by sharing more about fantasies that you are sure you have not shared with your partner(s). Then, you begin sharing the fantasies and desires you’ve never shared with anyone. By the way, this does not have to happen in one night. Have fun and explore deeper as you feel closer and safer…you know, less vulnerable and more intimate.
Tip #3: Create space and time to talk
Work. Kids. Chores. Family commitments. And so it goes. Finding the space and time to genuinely sit and talk without interruption, and before you are ready to collapse into bed after a long day, is not easy. But your relationship(s) is a priority. So put communication on the calendar. Schedule a time to talk. Sometimes this is a night away from home and dinner, or a picnic. Sometimes it is 30 minutes before going to bed, but schedule a time to talk. If you use your “I” statements, you will more easily fall into a rhythm that is comfortable for you and your partner(s).
Now here is an extra tip during your intimate communication: stare into each other’s eyes without saying anything for at least 60 seconds. I know! I know! No effing way, right?! But here’s the thing: sexual communication is mostly non-verbal. Think about it. It’s a glance here or a smile there. It’s slap on the ass or a kiss on the neck. We communicate without words all the time So practice non-verbal communication. Sure it will feel awkward at first, but the rewards to your communication system will be greatly enhanced.