We say it over and over again: communication is the be-all and end-all, in every aspect of our lives. But we also know that it can be difficult to talk about your emotional and sexual needs. Many people don’t dare to clearly express their sexual desires, generally as a result of misplaced shame or because they worry about their partner’s reaction. But the foundation for a happy sex life is interaction with each other, whether that’s physical or mental contact through conversation. It’s about time we talked to each other!
What is sexual communication?
Usually, sexual communication refers to the ability to talk about your preferences in relation to sex. If you have highly developed communication skills, you are able to very clearly say and show what you like and want during sex – whether that’s kissing and gentle stroking, oral or anal sex and so on. Needs that aren’t expressed, and therefore generally aren’t satisfied, lead to misunderstandings with your partner, and ultimately to frustration, as there’s less opportunity for sexual satisfaction and the ability to orgasm. And let’s be honest: if sex stops being fun and becomes more like work, then it tends to happen less often.
Inhibited sexual communication is not primarily a problem for single people or young couples. It tends to be something married couples struggle with. Because being in a couple doesn’t automatically mean better sexual communication. In fact, it seems that over time the desire to talk to our partner about our sexual needs or fantasies dwindles. Talking in bed? No chance! Even in couples, many people are ashamed and avoid open sexual communication. We often think our partner will realise what we want. But we need to remember: our partners aren’t mind readers. If we don’t say what we like, or even don’t like, nothing will change. It seems to be common in some couples for the desire to communicate to dwindle over time. How often do you see couples on holiday or in restaurants sat opposite each other in silence, with nothing to say, or even focusing on other things rather than their partner. They would rather stare at their mobile and scroll through Instagram or watch probably the thousandth YouTube short than look up and talk to the person opposite them. So, it’s not surprising if they can’t be bothered to make an effort in the bedroom anymore.
But communication is not just about being able to talk about your sexual preferences, desires and fantasies. It’s also important to be able to express your emotional needs clearly, without being shy. Because if the emotional side is missing from a relationship, or is ignored, that also has an impact on your sex life. Emotional and sexual needs are two sides of the same coin. It’s important to talk about them clearly and openly. So, why do so many of us struggle with inhibitions?
Why do we worry so much about discussing our needs?
It should be so easy to talk about what you desire. After all, we can do it for Christmas and birthdays 😊 But seriously, our upbringing and social conventions mean it’s still a taboo to talk openly about your sexuality. A person who talks publicly about their sexual preferences and demands they’re met is seen as vulgar or tacky. Even talking about sex with close friends is generally not done, or if it is, only in passing. The same also applies to expressing emotional needs.
Again and again, we hear that particularly women in relationships are inhibited when it comes to talking openly about their emotional and sexual needs. We all see dysfunctional relationships around us, where the woman is subordinate and even makes herself smaller and ignores her own desires. All to make the relationship (supposedly) work. Why does that happen?
Time after time, we hear how worried people are about being alone forever – the stigma of the eternal single is still seen as a real danger. But honestly, who really wants to be in a relationship where you have to completely bend over backwards, or constantly worry that your partner won’t love you anymore just because you’ve communicated your own needs? Where does this fear come from? Or, maybe a better question is: who is stoking this fear? Look a bit closer and it’s easy to see: our own families – especially parents. Here are some typical things that you hear again and again when you’re single:
“Don’t worry, you’ll find the One.”
“It’s about time … you’re not getting any younger.” (Really?! No pressure then …)
“Your expectations are too high.” (the absolute classic 😊)
A traditional upbringing and the resulting opinion that it’s a (if not the) goal in life to have a partner often leads to relationship dependency. This stems from a negative self-image that means you depend on other people, their opinions and affection, because that is the only way you can feel valued and secure. And this leads many people to bend over backwards and panic when it comes to talking about their sexual and emotional needs.
How to improve your ability to communicate your (sexual) needs
So, what do you do when you can’t get the words out? If this is you, we recommend practicing. Figure out what words you are happy using for your genitals that you can easily use in conversation. Think about what you like, what you find arousing and how you want to be touched. Of course, to know this, you need to be familiar with your own body, and the best way to do that is masturbation. Touch yourself and go on a journey of discovery!
Once you’ve sorted out these basics, prepare to talk to your partner, and plan what you want to say. Sexual communication is all about timing and getting the right environment. In the morning at the breakfast table right before work is not the best time to discuss such a sensitive topic. Our tip: agree a date night with your partner. One set day when you go out and only focus on your partner – mobile phones are absolutely forbidden (non-negotiable). If you sitting opposite each other with no distractions, you have to talk to each other. Make this evening something special. Outside the bedroom, the mood is generally more relaxed and it’s easier to talk about possibly controversial topics (which doesn’t mean you shouldn’t talk about your needs in the bedroom).
Hey you, we need to talk! This sentence suggests there’s trouble ahead and sets the alarm bells ringing. Instead of having a sensible conversation, we expect problems. Not the best way to start a conversation! On a date night you could quite honestly just come out and say what you’d like to try or what you particularly enjoy: “I like it when you …” or “I’d like it if you touched me here and there next time.” Use simple and clear sentences. Short and sweet is best.
Give it a try. Continue to talk in and outside your bedroom about your sexual and emotional needs. You’ll find it becomes easier each time. There is one more thing you need to remember: you have the right to communicate. If your partner doesn’t want to meet your needs or doesn’t really want to hear them, then there are only two options: either you go to a sexual therapist for help, or you realise that you’re not right for each other. That might sound really tough. But a relationship, of any kind, where you can’t communicate and have to bend over backwards is not going to make you happy in the long run. And we all deserve to be happy!
Image sources: pexels-ketut-subiyanto-4759936, pexels-cottonbro-studio-7339206, pexels-yaroslav-shuraev-5085386