Our partners may be great at knowing how we like to make our favourite lunch sandwich but might be entirely in the dark about what we want in bed. These essential conversations often go overlooked or are actively avoided because of feelings of embarrassment and awkwardness.
You are not to blame for this - our society has made it difficult to think of sex as a healthy, regular part of everyday life. Bodies have been objectified or portrayed as unclean in Indian culture. It is common that a menstruating woman to be thought of as unclean. And when schools don't offer sex education (and they should!), sex remains a sensitive topic whether you are a man or a woman. Our sensitivity, in turn, can make it difficult for us to accept or give feedback about our sex lives. Healthy conversations about sex are crucial for a healthy relationship. If you don't tell your partner that what they are doing to please you is not working, they will continue to work the same way. Expecting a partner just to know usually doesn't work; one has to speak up.
Until I met my current partner, I found it extremely difficult to discuss how I wanted to be satisfied in the bedroom. Despite having multiple sexual partners, some long term and some only for a night or day, I could not orgasm - which goes to prove that having a lot of sex will not lead to an orgasm automatically. However, figuring out what we want and opening up to our partner about it is definitely worth a try. This is what I did, and the quality of my sex life improved significantly. Sex was better, and I felt better about myself for having expressed my needs openly.
An honest conversation about sexual likes and dislikes can lead to some great sex even if you might initially feel anxiety about discussing them. Firstly, it would improve your relationship. Secondly, it would improve your sex life. And better sex life leads to a positive outlook towards other areas in your life.
According to the book ‘How to Think More About Sex’, our partners should be the people to whom we lay bare our most vulnerable self to, and telling them about our sexual desires is a huge part of it. Fear or rejection, shame and judgment may often stop us from expressing our wants, but in the long term, that can lead to resentment towards the relationship and your partner.
And it follows that iff you’re unable to make your beloved happy, you could begin to have less confidence in your sexual performance, and that is not a good space to be in. Good, happy sex improves emotional connection between people. So a good sex life is an important criterion for the health of a relationship.
Talking about sex comfortably in a relationship is a skill. Basically it gets easier and gets better the more you do it. Here are some tips on how to get the the conversation started.
Plan a time in advance to talk about sex. That way no one feels ambushed or like they have been put on the spot. It also gives everyone a little time to think over what they want to bring up. Conversations about sex can bring up vulnerabilities in people, and with these vulnerabilities come defensiveness. Once the conversation becomes hits on defensiveness, it will not be constructive and can either lead to conflict or make people feel bad. So not springing the conversation on your partner as a surprise is a good first step in ensuring that it will be a constructive conversation. Timing matters. Starting the sex conversation when your partner just walks in the the door, when both or either of you are tired, or before/after sex are surefire ways to make people feel like that have been put on the spot.
Keep the conversation focused and limited to one topic or issue at a time. Talking about sex can bring up complex feelings and trying to cover all the issues/desires/needs in a sexual relationship may lead to overload in the conversation. By focusing one issue per conversation, it becomes easier to work through or explore that one item without making the conversation more complex or awkward than it needs to be.
Discuss what's working and what isn't quite where it should be. Frame it as things that could be made better rather than things that don't work or fail. Phrasing it like "XYZ would be even better if you/we ..." or "I would love if if you/we would ..." Softening some statements makes it easier to keep the conversation in a constructive space. These conversations tend to fall apart if anyone starts to feel defensive.
Tell your partner about what you would like. Providing guidance on how things work for you makes it easier for everybody to focus on what works.
Be open to each other's ideas. Some of your partner's needs may surprise you or might seem a little more different than you expected. That's OK, just explore as long as you are comfortable with what is going on. If you find that some of it is simply too much for you, just say so in a way that won't make your partner feel ashamed or bad. Something like "I know that you like XYZ but I just cant get into that headspace. I want you to be fulfilled so is there something else we can try instead of XYZ?"
Ask lots of questions when you have that conversation about sex. Asking questions helps make the conversation more comfortable and "normal" for everyone, and clearly signals that you want to know what your partner needs. This should in turn make it easier for your partner to start asking more about your needs. At a most basic level, questions are great ice breakers to get the conversation started.
Be clear and honest. They cant know if you don't tell them.
On top of these conversation approaches, a few things you could try is try and understand each other’s anatomy and how different a man and a woman are, if you’re in a heterosexual relationship. Understanding each other’s erogenous zones and points is another way to teach oneself in the art of making love. If one was to think of sex like a skill at which you can get better by practicing it and being open to feedback the sex talk wouldn’t seem as frightful. After all the best part of sex is in being able to make another human feel as much pleasure as they make you feel.
But talking about sex isn't only about talking about pleasure points or techniques. It can be helpful to talk about how much sex you want to have. As well, having conversations about unknowns in sex is also important. That means more that exploring each others needs, but also exploring totally new areas together. And finally, discussing conversing about the type of "sex moods" is just as important as techniques and want/needs. Does one partner prefer the mood to be funny or lusty while the other prefers tender and spiritual? Does one partner want it primal while the other enjoys fantasy? Having a conversation about the tone and how to get specific moods for sex is also important. Think of this as more advanced areas to cover once basic needs have talked about and/or worked out.
Written by Asmita Sarkar