Negotiating “Sex Talk” With Our Partner
When it comes to verbal communication during sex, we are not good at communicating what turns us on.
As a sex therapist, I’m often working with people to normalize “sex talk” and help clients understand what gets in the way.
Most of us fall into one of two categories: the romantic and the hard core but here are some things to keep in mind:
- Women are often scared to use “street language” or “dirty talk” because on some level they have been told it’s not “ladylike,” or “okay.” They think they will sound like a slut or worse, like a sex worker. (And I promise I’ll debunk many of your myths about sex workers in another article, but let’s leave that for another day, shall we?) As a result, it’s just not something they are comfortable with and it’s something they might have to get used to. But many women will express the fact that this language does turn them on precisely because there is something that feels “bad” or a little “illicit” about it.
- Many men are not programmed to talk romantically during sex. It may feel disingenuous to say “I love you,” when you’re feeling “oh my g-d, you’re so hot.” Or, men have been programmed that talking romantically is “wussy” or not manly. But the truth is that many women will express a need for sincerity and romantic talk when they are having sex and will say that it is a big turn on.
So how do you break out of this cycle? The most important thing is to be honest and tell each other what you really want! I can’t believe how often couples are stuck in dysfunctional patterns because they haven’t communicated to each other what they like or need. I know it’s a tad harder than it sounds, because, well, how do you bring it up? I usually recommend talking about sexual issues when you are not having sex. And ironically, like I’ll tell parents about talking to their teens, sometimes it’s easier to talk when you are not face to face. Driving in a car, sitting on a sofa, or while you are cooking can be an easier way to bring things up. You can say you read this article. You read my book. You heard someone talking about this.
Here are some other suggestions that might help:
- Watch or read erotica together and talk about it honestly so your partner has an idea of what you like.
- Break out of your routine. If one of you tends to veer towards one type of “talking” then make a concerted (discussed) effort to switch over. Break out of your comfort zone and just try it. If you are having trouble figuring out what to say, buy some erotic books and read them aloud to try the talking on for size.
- Take turns. Tonight will be heavy duty porn night. Tomorrow night will be Jane Austin adoration night. See what happens on each night and what the talking does to the sex. You can even dress to match the dialogue!
- On any given night, if your partner is misreading your cues, try communicating more directly. “Is it okay if we are a bit more romantic tonight honey?” works better than rolling your eyes and shutting down after the opening line of “Well, aren’t you just the hottest bitch ever?” And it works even better if last time you had sex, you were totally in line with the hottest bitch ever routine.
Having a variety of ways in which to communicate during sex can only help your sexual relationship. It helps both because the more different ways you have sex the more interesting sex remains over the years and because there are times that call for different “types” of sex.
The first time you make love after you get married or after you have a baby or after a fight might call for a different “kind” of sex than coming home from a wild night out, or on a great island escape. Who knows? But you and your partner can always negotiate the situation better if your “sexual vocabulary” is wider and broader!