One of the first questions I ask when someone shares a sex or intimacy-related concern with me is whether they’ve talked about it with their partner. Most of the time, that answer is no. In fact, most of the time I’m the first and only person with whom they’ve shared their struggle!
Here’s the catch though: they talk to their partner about everything else. Money, work stress, family drama, even big feels. But when it comes to sex? They don’t know where to start. They feel feel embarrassed, they’re afraid of being judged or rejected, and they’re frustrated AF because they’re adults—shouldn’t they just know how to do this?!
Well, no. Not only are we never taught how to talk about sex but also because of The Sex Myth, this conversation feels more difficult and awkward than most. Yes, even for us sex educators.
If so, read on for my favorite hack to start talking to your partner about sex.
Try this to start talking to your partner about sex
I read about [sexy thing]. What do you think about that?
Why This Works
Let’s break it down!
- It’s simple. There are two sentences: the statement to identify what’s on your mind and your question.
- It’s direct. It gets right to the point by saying “here’s x, lets talk about it.
- It gives context. You aren’t just saying “oh [sex topic]!!!” You’re saying “here’s why this topic is on my mind.”
- It gives you an out. If you’re feeling particularly vulnerable, the inspiration to talk came from an external source.
- It’s inviting. It draws the other person in to have a conversation with you.
Two Rules for Using This Technique to Start Talking to Your Partner About Sex
Beyond the statement itself, there are two rules to using this technique:
- Use your own words. Talk however you’d talk to them about the chores, dinner, or finances. Use your own pet names and adjust the question as needed.
- Avoid yes/no questions like, “Do you want to try it?” Nothing shuts down a convo and leaves you feeling raw + vulnerable faster than a “Yes…” or “No…” followed by silence
Use this technique to talk about any sex topic on your mind
Struggling to experience orgasm during partner sex, to your liking, or at all?
You can use this technique with any—all!—of these. Plus, any other sex idea, issue, or question on your mind.
Here are some examples of using this technique to start talking about sex:
- I read this really interesting article about anal sex. What do you think about anal?
- So, in this book I’m reading, she talks about how women and men tend get turned on differently. A lot of it rang true to me. How do you feel about talking more about it?
- Susie shared this article about the g-spot and apparently there are five different ways to stimulate it. How do you feel about trying each one out together?
- OMG just saw this article about fantasies. I love the idea about sharing them with each other. What do you think?!
- On the subway/at the store, I overhead some folx talking about how they deepened their connection with each other. How would you feel about sharing some ideas to do that?
Choose the right time to use this technique to Start Talking About Sex
You just read this mindset-shifting book about sex. You identify with
some many of the author’s experiences, lessons, and realizations. You start to wonder if your beau experiences similar thoughts and feelings. During the ride/walk/drive home, you turn them over and over in your mind. Suddenly—you blurt out a question! You stumble over your words and ramble. Your partner feels awkward and taken off guard. The conversations ends abruptly.
That was how I introduced the concept of ethical non-monogamy to my partner many years ago. We were walking out of the subway with about 100 other people and, well, let’s just say I’m not a particularly quiet talker.
Needless to say: be a bit more intentional with when you introduce this topic. In public might not be the best spot BUT in a car, while hiking, or anytime you’re side-by-side can help ease the tension.
When it’s done, you’ll feel so relieved
The conversation probably not go perfectly at first. You might pull a me and choose the wrong time or maybe you’ll stumble over your words. Ultimately, though talking about sex has only positive impacts: more intimacy, openness, and exploration.
In the story above, despite my word vomit + initial awkwardness, the beau and I had a fabulous discussion. We learned so much about how the other person thinks about sex. Plus, that convo set the stage for future chats inspired by something one of us reads. I now send him articles about sex, feminism, intersectionality, emotional labour—you name it!—pretty regularly, highlighting the parts that stick out to me the most.
Having “the talk” is worth it
No matter how difficult it feels at first, you and your partner will learn so much about your relationship and each other.
Crave additional support talking about sex (and other Big Scary Topics)?
We combined the best evidence-based tools, practices, and techniques into The Sexy Conversation Starter Kit. This is a practical + accessible guide to help make all your Big Scary Talks easier—whether you want to introduce kink into a “normal” sexual relationship; get your lover to stop doing their signature move that just doesn’t work for you; discover your desires and communicate them; or, something else entirely.