How to Start a Meaningful Conversation about Sex
Do you find your communication about sex satisfying, or is the topic a source of tension?
Many of us grew up in sexual secrecy. Afraid to speak up, we often learn to associate pleasure with guilt and shame. Sex and sexuality is a taboo topic in most homes for children growing up. Parents aren’t talking about sex with their kids or their partner. In my work as a sexologist and therapist, I give people a common language and help them to feel more comfortable talking about and exploring sex.
A significant portion of my work is helping people rediscover their personal sense of craving, so I encourage my clients to start having suggestive conversations to help them revitalize their sexual side and erotic energy.
Letting go sexually can only happen when people feel free from feeling responsible for the fragility of the other.
In the past, sex used to be considered a marital “duty.” Today, pleasure and sexual freedom are generally more accepted and encouraged. However, traditional power structures, poor sexual education, and persistent myths and stereotypes about sexual performance and what’s considered “normal” continue to hold many couples back from creating the sexuality and relationship they desire.
We’re doing ourselves a disservice when we lie to our partners about what we need thinking we’re protecting them. The result is a dissatisfying sexual experience for everyone. Before you can approach an exploratory conversation about sex, you need to get comfortable with the topic and create a safety net by nurturing the health of your relationship.
Getting comfortable with your desires serves two purposes—You end up modelling the positive behaviour you want your partner(s) to follow, and you “normalize” the behaviour, making it easier for your partner(s) to accept it as part of their worldview.
There’s an unfortunate misconception that fantasies, fetishes, and kink necessarily “objectify” and “distance” lovers from one another. Usually, just the opposite is true. Sharing your private sexual cravings with a partner can increase trust and intimacy. It’s a special, beautiful, and private piece of who you are that you’re sharing with someone you care about.
Sexual exploration can only take place once we feel safe. When you feel safe enough to be vulnerable, you can move beyond your insecurities and connect on a soulful level. In the overstimulating, high-speed world we live in, we’re culturally forced into a seemingly limitless barrage of superficial chatter. While small talk is harmless but effective in maintaining an amicable roster of acquaintances, this nonstop superficial conversation is toxic to intimate relationships. We're so used to small talk it’s easy to wake up one day and realize we don't know our partner at all.
If this sounds familiar, here are some ways you can enter into a mature era of sexual connection:
- Build a safety net by enhancing emotional intimacy. You need to start with a solid foundation, so first work on your relationship. If things aren’t going well outside of the bedroom, it will absolutely impact the health of your sex life.
- Ask yourself “what do I want?” If you’re not sure what you’re looking for, how will you ask for it? Spend time getting really clear on what you want.
- Read together. Researching the topic of sex and sexuality will broaden your horizons. Doing it together may help to excite you with fantasies, possibilities, or both.
- Start a conversation. Simply say that honesty is important to you, and you care about your partner’s pleasure. Not sure where to start? Try one of these conversation starters:
- What do you love?
- Are there certain things I do that you like more than others? Why?
- Are there certain things you don't enjoy doing to me?
- Is there something we haven't tried that you'd like to explore?
- Be open to your partner’s feelings. Let your partner have their own experience with your suggestions and resist the urge to control.
- Start small. When you introduce your partner to fantasy or fetish, start small. Enjoy the process of exploring your edges by going slow. Start with the smaller stuff then go deeper from there.
Communication is essential to a great relationship and sex and pleasure. Being able to confidently approach the topic of sex with your partner(s) offers a path to express what you want and crave. When you can express what turns you on, you’ll be more likely to get it—and take your pleasure to new heights. Be bold, open and honest with your partners… you only have more pleasure to gain! Sexual communication is a skill that takes practice. Practice makes perfect (pleasure) and will grow your sense of health and connection.
If you find yourself feeling stuck, therapy and counselling can help. And if you’re stuck on an issue, you can make a single appointment to make sure you dedicate time to addressing it without phones, kids, and other distractions.
(This article was originally published on the Bliss Blog).
Kelly McDonnell-Arnold MA, MBA, RSW is a Clinical Sexologist and Psychotherapist with a Master’s degree in Forensic Sexology and a sought after expert and personality in the field of human sexuality. Kelly is passionate about providing ‘sex-positive,’ fresh, and reliable sexology information in all its complexity (but in a simple-to-understand message), empowering others to explore and own their sexuality.
Kelly is dedicated to helping you build a life that you truly love. She’s the down to earth, whip-smart professional who takes her work seriously, but never herself. Check out her honest & inspiring sex and relationship e-courses, find her running a bustling therapy practice in Uptown Waterloo, Bliss Counselling, or check out her sexuality series ‘Sex Talk with Kelly’ on Rogers TV.