A new study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, confirmed what many of us have known for years. Attentiveness and responsiveness to a partner’s sexual needs increases that partner’s desire: “Feeling special and perceived partner mate value explained the responsiveness–desire link, suggesting that responsive partners were seen as making one feel valued as well as better potential mates for anyone and thus as more sexually desirable.”
Essentially sex is not just intercourse and desire is not just a physiological response. A partner’s sexual desire is also about how well partners are attuned to the needs of the other. However, achieving this attunement is not going to happen all by itself. Sometimes we get lucky and a partner actively asks what we want, or what feels good, but if that does not happen we can ask for what we want, right? Many women tell me that their partner doesn’t “know what to do,” and they wind up having less and less desire. When I ask if they have discussed what feels good to them with a partner, they usually say “No, I don’t want to hurt his feelings.” The reality is that his feelings will probably be much more “hurt” if your desire decreases and you don’t want to have sex at all.
Sexual communication is one of the hardest challenges faced by many of my patients. As we do not openly discuss sex and sexuality in our society, we also do not learn how to talk about it without the guilt and shame that surrounds it. We have only learnt to be uncomfortable and embarrassed with the subject. Sexual communication doesn’t have to start off verbally. You can take your partner’s hands and move them to where you want, use your own hands, write notes, etc. However, being clear about what you want is important, and that usually does mean verbalizing your needs and wants at some point. So go ahead and get what you want, you will both be happy you did.