Sex Talk: Communicating about Sex

Passionate sex

Passionate sex

Communicating about sex with your partner can be challenging. Considering some ways your comfort with sex talk has been influenced can be helpful.

Messages about Sex and Affection from Parents


Think about your own parents. Did they show affection in front of you? Did they hug, kiss, or give each other a squeeze? Did they hold hands or use physical touch to show how much they loved one another? Did they tell each other they loved the hugs and kisses they got?


Sex ed—School, Church, Friends and Media


What kind of messages did you get about sex growing up? Did you have direct conversations with your parents about sex and sexuality? Did you learn about sex in school? How about church? Was all or most of your learning about sex from friends? How did media images influence your ideas?


Our families, communities, and our culture all influence how we feel about sex and communicate about it. As a woman and as a man we got direct and indirect messages about sex like:


• It’s okay for a guy to go after lots of women


• A woman who has gone out with a lot of guys is a slut


• Masturbation is just wrong


• Friends with benefits are ideal


• A man is supposed to be in charge sexually


• Couples should be trying to make each other orgasm anytime they have sex


• Only young guys can orgasm more than once a day


• Women should be able to orgasm when a man’s inside of them or there’s something wrong


• Men and women should know what turns their partner on without talking about it


• Men should initiate sex not women


Everything sexual is okay





Our own experience with sex obviously also influences our comfort talking about it.


• Has your sex life in the past been fulfilling? Has anything traumatic happened?


• Have you learned about your own body and what feels good through masturbation and/or through experience?


• Have you had open discussions with your partner about your needs, wants, and desires?


• Have you spoken about what turns you on and what turns you off?


• Have you been able to initiate sex comfortably or does it make you too nervous?


• Has your partner been able to pick up on signs that you’re in the mood?


• Have you been able to refuse sex without an argument or hurt feelings?


• Have you found you and your partner seem to have similar or different sex drives?


Time of Your Life


Although many of us want to have the time of our lives while we’re having great sex, life can sometimes get in the way. When you’re in a new relationship, sex often seems to come naturally (no pun intended!). Both partners often report wanting to be with each other a lot!


But as time goes on, things can change. Life can get a lot more hectic as we build our careers, perhaps get married, move in together, start a new family, care for aging parents, and try to add in some me-time.


In previous blogs, I’ve spoken about the impact stress, fatigue, anger, and conflict can have on sex. See Putting Desire Back into Sex and Rebuilding Sexual Desire in Loving Relationships.


Your Sexual Love Maps


John Gottman and his wife, Julie Schwartz Gottman, two psychologists who have published couple’s resources, talk about the importance of knowing one another’s sexual love maps. Having conversations with one another about your needs and desires, wants and dislikes betters the chances you’re going to have a great sex life!


Some questions to talk about might include:


• There is an old saying the some people need sex to feel close, but others only want sex when they already feel close. Do you think that difference exists between us? Is it a problem? If so, how can we make it better?


• Do you think I can tell when you’re in the mood for sex? Am I reading or not readings your signals?


• What do you like about my body?


• What do you like about your body?


• What kind of foreplay do you like best? What doesn’t work for you? Is there a part of foreplay you’d like us to work on?


• Do you feel comfortable asking for clitoral stimulation from me? Is there anything I can do to make that better?


• Some women dislike the expectation that sex will always lead to some kind of penetration. Do you ever feel that way?


• How important is it to you to have an orgasm when we have sex?


• Do you feel pressure from me to have an orgasm? What can I do to take that pressure away?


• How would you like me to touch your penis?


• How would you like me to touch your vagina?


Having a great sex life includes talking about it non-defensively and comfortably.


How about you? Can you communicate about sex with your partner? What needs to happen for you to have the sex life you want?


Want your sex life to get better? Let’s talk.