Many relationships eventually arrive at a point where they are in need of romantic resuscitation. This is a normal place to land (and not just once), especially for long-term relationships. In new relationships, the time is ripe to be transparent about your needs, specifically those of the sexual variety. Determining your sexual needs up front will help steer clear of an uncomfortable rut and/or resentment down the line.
Communication is tricky, even if the request is seemingly simple. Many individuals feel more comfortable remaining guarded about our sexual preferences, finding it nearly impossible to muster the courage to ask, “would you use two fingers instead of one?”, or “I’d love for us to try this new position tonight.” Fear of bashing feelings, being judged and/or rejected is a powerful silencer. With that said, how do we speak up? First, identify the root of the issue. A few examples of communication roadblocks in a relationship:
- One or more sex drives have become unaligned
- A healthy sex life exists, but there is noticeable room for improvement
- One or both partners have expressed interest in exploring pleasure products, but aren’t sure where to start
When it comes to getting from Point A to Point B, start with a strategy.
Set your intention.
This is quite possibly the most important component of the process. Take the time alone to identify the goal, and determine how you ideally want to feel at the end of the conversation. Relieved? Inspired? Connected? Consider that feeling your target during communication. While pleasure might be the short-term goal, how will the conversation benefit your big picture? Try playing out different outcomes in advance, determining how to achieve the goal, despite possible tensions arising. Find relevant resources to help you feel comfortable talking about the subject; including online articles, adult videos, or consulting with a professional or some friends beforehand.
Location, location, location.
Establishing a neutral, safe environment is key for setting the energetic tone of any conversation. Also, initiating a discussion during or immediately after sex may not be ideal, as you risk the chance of catching each other off-guard or spoiling the moment. Go for a weekend walk in a new neighborhood (that may also conveniently have a sex toy shop on the block), or revisit the place you had your first date. Fun fact: Nostalgia makes us feel happier and more optimistic!
If it feels good, do it.
Don’t be afraid to speak up (from the heart, with confidence) if you are feeling particularly connected to your partner. Does it feel good to slowly (and consensually) guide your partner’s hand to uncharted territory on your body? What other physical cues will allow you to express yourself in the moment? Consciously connecting with your own body during sex promotes healthy sexual expression and ultimately, feeling liberated from the shame and stigma that is still attached to the idea of sex. You have the choice to create a positive and supportive interaction with your partner. Alternatively, you can be dismissive and uninterested. What do you choose?
ABC: Always Be Complimentary.
Any conversation should focus on the journey you are on together, rather than what may be lacking. Avoid the blame game! Compassion and consideration will make or break the way you listen to and understand each other—no matter how far out the idea is. If you are looking for an excuse to bring home a newcomer’s sex toy, attend a sex toy party with friends and invest in something unassuming, like a small bullet vibrator. (“Can I try some vibration on you to make you come harder tonight?”) If you cannot find a middle ground, how can you compromise? For example, if one partner wants to try anal sex but the other is unwilling or hesitant, compromise on watching an adult video together that features anal play. That way, both partners achieve a happy medium—together. (This tip is straight outta Dr. Sadie Allison’s book, Tickle His Pickle!) Lastly, try creating a master list of sexual interests that you both may or may not be interested in. Examples: Visiting a sex toy store, nipple play, spicing up your foreplay, anal sex, cock rings, shower sex, crossdressing, outdoor sex, visiting a fetish club, threesomes, etc. On two separate pieces of paper (one for each of you), make 3 columns titled: YES!, MAYBE…., and NOPE. List all interests in the column that resonate with you most, and when you are finished, compare lists. This is a constructive and quick way to match up your interests at any point in a relationship.
Prioritize your pleasure. Have the hard conversations. The happiness will follow.
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