How To Talk About Sex
Here’s a question for you.
How often do you talk about sex?
Not, talk DURING sex, or talk about HAVING sex. How often do you have meaningful, involved discussions with your partner about your sex life? About what’s working for you, and what’s not?
If it’s less than once a month, it’s not often enough.
Here’s another question for you. How often do you THINK about having sex? Generally, it should be kind of a lot, regardless of your sex, gender or identity (asexuals being the ONE exception here). Obviously, there are a number of factors that come into play, including age, general life circumstances, happiness with your partner, all that jazz, but according to a recent study, your typical female thinks about sex 10 times a day, and your typical male 19 times a day.
Note that these are conscious thoughts about sex, and not that crappy, “men think about sex every seven seconds,” trope that seems to get so much airplay.
Almost done. How many times a week do you HAVE sex? Your typical happily marrieds do it around 10 times a month (that’s about twice a week). I average over 20 times a month. But, and this is key, you’re not aiming for MY sex life.
You’re aiming for yours. Which is the last question.
How many times a month would YOU like to have sex? Aaaaaaaannnnnddddd… how many times a month would your partner like to have sex? Because somewhere in the middle lies your happy medium.
And to get that number, you have to… yes. Talk about sex.
When your sex life is new, there’s a lot of lust involved. There’s a lot of passion, and energy, and touching. You’re learning what this body likes, what it responds to, and generally, that process is pretty natural, if occasionally really awkward.
However, after a certain point, you pretty much know what does it for your partner. They know what does it for you. The tricks have been LEARNED.
And this sort of predictability is actually really dangerous, because if you’re not careful, sex can become routine. As in, you rub me here for five minutes, I rub you here for five minutes, we trade oral sex and then we have sex in one of three positions. (That’s not our routine or anything. Nerp.)
And let’s be real. There’s not a whole lot of enjoyment in that. Sex is supposed to be FUN, not obligation, and definitely not chore.
And the solution here? Yep. Talk about sex.
The problem is, you probably don’t talk about sex much at all. You probably fight about it, though. It starts innocently enough. “I wish we did more of this.” Or, “I would like to possibly try this some time.”
But it pretty quickly dissolves into recriminations about what YOU’RE not doing adequately, at which point, you’re wondering why you ever even bothered to have sex with this person in the first place.
And the truth is, the title of this post is kind of a lie. I can’t tell you HOW to talk about sex, because your needs are always going to be different than mine.
I can give you some ground rules, though. These are all techniques I have personally used, or used with clients. They are suggestions for creating frameworks for making conversation possible.
Actually plan this conversation. On the calendar. For us, it’s a part of our regularly scheduled Weekly Review. Every Sunday at 4pm (seriously), we sit down with our respective calendars, and plan out our schedule for the week.
(Coincidentally, that’s this month’s workshop. Go forth and register.)
If you run a business, you probably evaluate your numbers at least quarterly. If your children have Individualized Education Plans, you review no less than once a year, and more often if necessary.
When it comes to the person you have committed to spend the rest of your life with, you should check in AT LEAST once a month. And this, like so many other things, doesn’t have to be a chore. We usually put on some music, make snacks, and hang out on our bed for these confabs.
Have established ground rules for these conversations. I’ve talked before about how to set ground rules for fighting, and the goal here is similar. You want an established parameter for the flow of these conversations, so that you stay within your lanes. This keeps you from meandering down tangent road, but also helps to keep conflict at bay.
At the moment, we are currently transitioning to something fairly closely resembling lifestyle dominance and submission. So these conversations are especially important to us right now as we consider particular techniques and forms of training. It allows me, the submissive, a clear space to express my feelings outside of the role I’ve assumed.
For you more vanilla folks, you can structure this in a couple different ways. I really like to strike a balance between what IS working, and what ISN’T, so you can use a classic asspat sandwich, “I really like oral sex, but we don’t have enough of it, and I wish we could maybe do it more, like at least half of our sexual encounters, because did I mention I really like it?” Or a basic, “I really like it when you suck on my earlobe, but it DRIVES ME INSANE (and not in a good way) when you pretend my penis is a joystick. Please don’t do that anymore.”
Notice that I’m giving you very concrete examples to work with here. The more specific you are in these conversations, the better off you’ll be.
Have notes. Especially in the beginning, especially if you’ve not had these types of conversations before. Having things written down helps you to stay focused on the conversation.
Obviously, I like systems, and I also write a lot. For me personally, all of this information is captured on an almost daily basis in my Bullet Journal, or the Kanban Board on my desk. Sometimes I’m better about keeping track than others, but the act of managing my thoughts is an especially important one to me, so it’s almost an artform at this point.
If it isn’t for you, don’t despair. There’s a number of ways that you can manage this new level of necessary communication. Journalling is exceptionally easy to do, and you no longer have to do it on paper if that’s just not your bag. I have clients exceptionally devoted to journalling apps and their tablet (and have you seen some of the new styluses? Best of both worlds).
I also have clients (especially guys) who like talking to Siri. They add this stuff as audio notes as it comes up, and then manage action lists natively, or by importing out to other task managers. You have so MANY ways to make this work for you.
Be mindful of what you say. My general rule is, how would I respond to hearing this particular thing about myself? If the meat of your asspat sandwich is kind of moldy, then think about your delivery ahead of time.
Talking about sex is hard, at least in part because of how sensitive a topic it is. We take a tremendous amount of pride in our sexual prowess (or we should), and being told we don’t do something quite right can be difficult to hear.
Remember, you’re doing this again soon. If your laundry list of sexual complaints is long, then consider what your highest priority is, and focus ONLY on that this time.
Bottling it all up seems to be human nature. But it’s also a big instigator of fights, especially when it comes to sex. Suddenly, it’s not just this one thing you do wrong, it’s the fifty eight things you do wrong, and compromise is never achieved in that scenario.
But one of the amazing benefits to a regular review is that you can just deal with one thing at a time. And consider that personally. If you KNOW you’re only going to have to hear about one complaint at this point in time, will you be more or less receptive to hearing it? Will you be more or less receptive to ACTING on it?
Every now and then, go for the guided tour. You remember how you learned what works for your partner in the early days, and it’s what you’ve been doing ever since because it works? Yeah, that’s actually not remotely true. Bodies change. Especially if they’ve been through the physically altering transformations of pregnancy and birth. And needs and desires change over time, too.
After the birth and recovery of each of my children, what worked for me physically changed a lot. Like, nerve endings moved. And this is totally normal. But if you aren’t talking about those changes, it can be very difficult for your partner to adjust, because they are, quite simply, NOT a mind reader.
We are also very visual creatures. So it can be especially helpful to actually point to a specific place on your body and say, “I like it when you [lick, chew, suck, stroke, etc.] in this particular area.” And if this visual demonstration leads to the action being performed, well, so much the better, eh?
Most importantly, remember what you’re together for. In the beginning, when you commit to spending the rest of your life together, you create this very idealized, idyllic picture of your future. You know, the, “when we’re old and grey,” fantasy.
This vision includes family dinners, lots of grandchildren, rockers on the front porch, or a cafe in Paris. It probably never included the idea of really old and decrepit you knocking boots, because, ewww. And I’m still not asking you to picture that, because seriously, no one needs that image of themselves.
What I AM asking you to consider is the longevity of your sex life. It’s a reasonably pleasant activity when done poorly. It’s amazing when it’s done well, and generally, good sex begets more good sex.
In other words, there’s still much sex to be had. Go and make it great.