Communication in the bedroom can be tough. And, ok, ‘in the bedroom’ doesn’t need to be taken literally, and not just because we know you’re an adventurous lot when it comes to where you have sex. Broaching certain topics, including sex, can be hard for couples, despite how comfortable either of you may be with the actual act. Whether it’s because you have trouble expressing what you want or because you feel like it can ‘ruin the chemistry,’ communication in a relationship is key for long-term happiness.
Face it, even the most intuitive lover won’t be able to read your mind, despite your best attempts to telepathically transmit your thoughts to them, so it pays to try and work on bringing up these tougher conversations in a way that will make everyone more comfortable and open to sharing. Maybe you want to share your deepest fantasies, or maybe you want to begin using toys together. Take a deep breath and relax, who knows, your partner may be struggling to communicate something to you as well!
TIMING AND TONE ARE EVERYTHINGIt might seem like during sex is the best time to talk about sex, but really it’s the opposite. Firstly, major conversations should generally be made with a clear head, and we all know that can be a bit difficult to achieve once your hormones are rushing. This is, of course, not to say that you shouldn’t tell your partner what you like and don’t like during sex, or stop them if they do something you don’t like, just that a larger conversation about your sex life should be had in a non-sexual setting.
Secondly, sex, whether with a long term partner or a one night stand, does still involve some intimacy and vulnerability, so it can be a pretty deflating to pick that moment to let your partner know you actually really dislike that thing they’ve been doing with their tongue for 6 months. Phrasing, of course goes a very long way. Saying ‘Don’t do it like that’ is much more negative (and much less helpful) than saying ‘Do it like this.’
MAKE SURE YOU’RE SPEAKING THE SAME LANGUAGE
You’ve probably heard of The Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman. While some might be turned off by the way it talks about relationships exclusively in the context of a heterosexual, Christian marriage (not that there’s anything wrong with those) it makes some good points about the way we like to give and receive affection.
The 5 types of affection are defined as: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Physical Touch, Acts of Service and Gifts. Basically, while at our happiest and most secure, we are able to accept and enjoy any of them, but as we get more stressed out, tired, or irritable, there is one we prefer to receive.
However, this isn’t just a case of your partner knowing which kind of affection you prefer, but also realizing that we are all more likely to give our favorite style of affection to our partner. You might think your quick kiss or cuddle is soothing your partner, when they really need to hear a sincere ‘I love you.’
Therefore, we all need to take a step back sometimes and consciously decide to express our love and affection to our partner in a way that might not be our natural go to, but is the most effective way to communicate it to our partner.
LET SOMEONE ELSE STRUCTURE THE CONVERSATION
There are literally hundreds of books about building a stronger relationship, and if both you and your partner are on the same page about making changes to your relationship they can be very helpful. However, if you feel awkward about asking them to read a book (and no, leaving it on the coffee table with a bookmark in it doesn’t cut it) you can always turn to online resources. If there are hundreds of books, there are thousands of articles and couples’ quizzes online. These can range in seriousness and help if your attention spans aren’t quite that long.
Think about reading quizzes in the back of magazines with your friends in high school. Even the silliest of all of these can open up dialogue about important issues, and when it’s a computer or book bringing up topics, you both will feel more at ease talking about, say, bondage, than if you had to bring it up out of the blue yourself.
TAKE THINGS LESS SERIOUSLY
Better communication in your relationship will certainly improve your sex life, but it’s not just a set of skills you learn and use for having The Big Talk (whatever your big talk may be.) Rather, think of it as a set of skills that help you navigate your relationship on a daily basis, with issues big and small. The more comfortable you are talking about anything, any time, the easier those ‘big’ conversations will seem.
If sex in particular is something you and your partner have trouble talking about, try to normalize it. Sex is all around us, on TV shows and in movies, popping up on our newsfeeds, wherever. If you can comment on them to your partner and start dialogues about anything from a celebrity sex tape to polyamoury, it won’t be such a drastic change when you want to bring up something specific to your relationship.