- When was the last time you let a sexual partner in on what makes you feel good? Go on, I’ll give you a minute…
Are those crickets I hear? Okay…let’s try another one:
- When was the last time you asked a sexual partner to adjust the way they were doing something?
Time’s up. Wait – seriously, more crickets? Last question:
- When was the last time you tolerated something routine/tiresome/annoying from your sexual partner and thought to yourself “it’s always been this way. It will always be this way. Could I just once have the mind-blowing sex I want and deserve???!!!”
Women often think they have a sex problem, when what they’ve really got on their hands is a communication problem. Communication problems lead to sex problems, which lead to other problems. Do you see how problematic all of this is?!
Why can’t we talk about sex with our partners? How is it that we can share our bodies with one another and be vulnerable in many other ways, yet we can’t simply say out loud “a little softer, please” or “that doesn’t feel good, but I like it when you…” or “I’ve always wanted to try…?”
Of course, what constitutes fireworks for one person could mean the equivalent of watching paint dry for someone else. Every individual interprets “good sex” differently and there are several factors that can make or break a sexual encounter. Lack of communication is one of the biggest barriers to satisfaction, and it fosters resentment, boredom, and avoidance.
There are a whole host of reasons why we find this such a difficult task. First and foremost, early messages about sex are often clouded in shame. And secondly, I’m guessing no one ever told you that it’s okay, nay – a good thing! – to communicate your sexual preferences to a partner. Contrast that with the Dutch, who’s comprehensive sex education program teaches – in a developmentally appropriate framework – that pleasure is something to be celebrated! According to The Atlantic, “Socially, sex is different, too: Sexually active young people in Holland sleep around less, communicate more often with their partners about their likes and dislikes, and report higher rates of sexual satisfaction.”
Yes, that last sentence focused on “young people.” But those young people will synthesize the early messages of empowerment they received and carry them into the rest of their lives.
What saddens me most is when women in long-term relationships tell us that their partners have no idea what they’re doing. When I ask why they’ve never spoken up, many look at me quizzically, as if they have a choice in the matter. Clearly, no one’s ever given them permission (or “modeled,” if you want to get clinical) to do anything of the kind!
Communicating about sex should be considered as important as having it. So how do you do it? That depends on many factors and not every tactic will be right for you. You could make it fun – take a quiz together or play a game. You could also demonstrate and express yourself physically instead of verbally. Or, you could just come right out and say what you mean and mean what you say. Awkward? Embarrassing? Difficult? Sure, maybe it will be one or all of those things. But, the payoff for walking through the ring of discomfort could be bigger than your wildest fantasies. Or at least make things more comfortable, or more equitable, or more respectful. No matter what, you owe it to yourself to speak up.
Need guidance? Reach out to us at Maze Women’s Health – we can help you trouble-shoot these kinds of conversations. You know, the ones that are really worth having.