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Sex & Communication For Partners

Dr. Lisa Lawless

Dr. Lisa Lawless, CEO of Holistic Wisdom
Clinical Psychotherapist: Relationship & Sexual Health Expert

Wooden hearts with flowers, Sex & Communication

Talking About Sex Openly

Discussing sex with a partner can be challenging as there are a lot of emotions and beliefs that can become obstacles. Some people have grown up with messages that sex is a taboo subject or an unhealthy or even dirty subject. People also have concerns about how a partner will respond to what they say about sex.

It does not matter if you are in a relationship for a short time, in a long-term relationship, sex can be a delicate topic for many people. It may come as a surprise, but committed partners can have an even more difficult time bringing up sexual topics. The Journal of Sex Research showed that married people had lower rates of sexual communication skills than other groups. This may be due to long-term couples not having the motivation to address their desires. In some cases, people may get married because they are not comfortable communicating about their sexual desires in the first place.

While it may be challenging for many, having good sexual communication can improve self-esteem and sexual satisfaction. Studies show that the frequency of sex as well as satisfaction with sex is better when people communicate about their needs.

Tips For Better Sexual Communication

If having a heart-to-heart is not to your liking, you can make a game out of answering sexual questions with one another to understand one another better. By having a fun time answering questions, you can discuss sexuality in a way that does not seem as serious or intense.

Make sure to use "I" statements to avoid sounding critical. An example is, "I really enjoy when you________and would love if you would do that again." Approaching someone with positive reinforcement is always a good idea. If you do have to point out something you don't like, you can phrase it like, "I think I would prefer if when we are doing________, that you do________ instead of as that would be such a turn on for me watching and feeling you do that."

If you need help communicating, seeking out a sexual therapist can be a useful option. To learn more about this see our Sex Therapy & Counseling Guide.

Desires Can Change

Keep in mind that just because you have been with a partner for a long time does not mean that they still like the same things they used to. Sex drive and sexual preferences can change, so keeping sexual communication an ongoing dialog is important. Examples of things that can change one's sex life are menopause, erectile dysfunction (ED) and trauma such as sexual assault and rape.

Prioritize Health First

If there are any medical concerns or if you want to try something that may be physically dangerous, even if it is just around your own physical health, make sure to consult with a healthcare provider beforehand.

For tips on talking to a doctor about sex, see our How To Talk About Sex With Your Doctor Guide.

If you or your partner have disabilities, please see our Communication: Sex & Disabilities Guide.

If you are struggling with Long Covid sexual issues make sure to see our COVID & Erectile Dysfunction Guide.

When To Avoid Talking About Sex

Despite it being a good idea to talk about sex, finding the right time to bring it up can be essential to consider as doing it at the wrong time can feel like nagging or criticism. Avoid talking about it just before going to sleep, when your partner or you are in a hurry, when either of you just got home from work, or after a stressful activity. An ideal time to talk about sex is when you are both relaxed.

Four Signs Your Partnership Is Healthy

Self–Other Overlap

You begin mimicking one another's mannerisms, such as facial expressions, phrases, and body language. It indicates empathy and feeling bonded in a relationship.

Enjoying Downtime

When you can do nothing with your partner and still enjoy your time together, it is a good sign that you are happy with one another. It demonstrates that your partner acts as an anchor and sends stability just from existing, displaying a natural feeling of trust and safety.

Anticipating Needs & Wants

When you do things for your partner or get stuff for one another without them asking you to, it demonstrates nurturing one another.

Playful Teasing About Challenging Topics

When you can tease and laugh with one another about arguments or mistakes you have both made, it's a good sign that resentment and contempt aren't negatively affecting the relationship.

Ten Things That Make A Great Lover

  • You are enthusiastic and curious about how to provide your lover with pleasure.

  • You are educated about anatomy and how to stimulate it best.

  • You don't hyper-fixate on achieving orgasms and make it the only goal; rather, you focus on pleasure.

  • You communicate during sex to ask if your lover enjoys things and check in afterward to make sure they enjoyed the stimulation and feel good.

  • You ask about their fantasies and are nonjudgmental about what they want sexually.

  • You have a strong desire to create a safe space.

  • You are understanding if they experience sexual dysfunction or their body does not perform in the way they want.

  • You practice good sexual hygiene.

  • You propose trying new things and try to enhance connection with your lover.

  • You are playful and know how to connect.

Sexual Questions To Ask Your Partner

Below are some sexual questions you may consider asking your partner. When asking these questions of one another, take time to discuss beforehand that this will be a safe time for sharing intimate details. Agree that you will listen to one another with an open mind and that this is simply a way to get to increase intimacy.

  • What is one of your favorite sexual fantasies?

  • Where's the most fun place you've had sex?

  • If you could have sex on vacation, where would it be?

  • What's your favorite part of my body?

  • What is your ideal outfit for me for a sensual evening?

  • What are your favorite erogenous zones on your body?

  • What made the best sex you have had so good?

  • What is your favorite sexual position?

  • What is something you have no interest in doing sexually?

  • What turns you on visually?

  • Do you have concerns about STDs?

  • Would you ever want to masturbate in front of one another?

  • What is something that you have not done but would like to sexually?

  • What sex act gave you the best orgasm you have ever had?

  • Would you ever want to have sex in public, and if so, where?

  • Does taking pictures or videos of us having sex appeal to you?

  • Are you interested in using food during foreplay?

  • What do you find most attractive about me?

  • Do you have any fetishes or particular sexual turn-ons?

  • What is your favorite sex toy?

  • Are there sex toys you would want to get?

  • Does BDSM interest you, and if so, what level?

  • Would you ever want to watch porn or read erotica together?

  • What is something that is a turn-off for you sexually?

  • Are there code words that we can agree on during sex that will make giving one another instructions on what we need in the moment easier? For example, if I am about to orgasm and don't want you to stop what you are doing?

  • Do you prefer eye contact or not during sex?

  • Do you like to kiss during sex, and if so, what type of kissing?

  • Do you prefer certain things after sex, such as cuddling, cleaning up, etc.?

  • Do you enjoy sex in water (i.e., showers, baths, natural bodies of water)?

  • What would you say your sex drive (libido) level is in general?

  • Do you like dirty talk? If so, how explicit do you like it?

  • What would you say the best way to turn you on?

  • Do you prefer to take control or be submissive?

  • What's your favorite time of day to have sex?

  • How long do you prefer sexual play to last?

  • What's the best thing about our sex life?

    In Conclusion

    Remember to have fun when talking about sex and use the same enthusiasm as you would if you were choosing a cool restaurant or vacation to go on together. Sex is a team sport, and providing encouragement and support for both players does not have to be scary; rather, it can bond you closer together, giving you increased intimacy and pleasure.

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