Do you want your partner to go down on you more? (Um, yes?) Have you ever wanted a rim job but have been too shy to ask? Have you ever had a fantasy that you were too scared to bring up with your partner, which caused you to miss out on the experience altogether?
A survey of more than 1,000 people across the U.S. and Europe conducted by online medical service provider Zava has indicated that we just don’t talk about sex enough with our partners. And if we don’t talk about what we really want in the sack, our sex lives just might not reach their full potential.
The truth is, talking about sex leads to a better sex life.
We all want to have a bangin’ sex life, right? So let’s get talking! Couples that do discuss sex have a much higher overall level of satisfaction in their relationship. The Zava survey indicated that couples experienced a 54 percent improvement in their sexual satisfaction once their communication levels went from the lowest end of the spectrum to the highest—regardless of gender or nationality.
But if it’s so great… why don’t talk about sex as much as we should?
So why is it that we have a really difficult time discussing sex? The Zava survey found a litany of reasons couples don’t communicate better in bed, the most common being that people are worried about hurting their partner’s feelings.
While that makes a lot of sense—and is kind of a sweet reason—if you’re in a relationship, there should be an existing level of trust, and hashing out desires in your sex life together is ultimately for the benefit of the relationship. After all, you’re not bringing this stuff up to harm your partner. Have faith in what you share!
The second most common reason there’s a lack of communication in the bedroom? People felt embarrassed. (Surprise, surprise.) After that, people were concerned about the outcome of the conversation, the rocky state of the relationship, their partner not being a good listener, having a judgmental partner, and finally, a doubt in trust.
“I think a lot of couples fear discussing sex—and desires that are considered taboo, like swinging, threesomes, sex toys, or sex clubs—because as a society, we really put a spin on what is acceptable and what is not,” says Cali Estes, Ph.D., therapist and author of I Married a Junkie. Estes says that because female sexuality has been especially repressed in our culture, we’ve made open sexuality fairly taboo—to the point where some men might feel more comfortable expressing their truest desires more easily with a sex worker than their wives.
How can we do it better?
We reached out to women’s health expert Pari Ghodsi, M.D., for advice on ways to get us talking. She gave us five pointers on how to start the conversation:
1. Talk positively.
It’s good to let your partner know, “I like it when you did this,” and “I think it would be fun if we tried this.” The key here is no criticism.
2. Scribble a note.
A variation on the above, if you or your partner has trouble verbalizing your desires, is to write them down. Write down what you want to say and exchange letters, which is kind of romantic too—but for these purposes, keep it simple and absolutely clear.
3. Check out some dirty books.
Go together to a bookstore with sex manuals and take a look at them. When you find something that you want your partner to do or know about, have them read about it.
4. Get visual.
Yes, porn—it can be great to find something new that seems appealing and try an amateur version with your partner.
5. Show and tell.
Show your partner what you like—take turns, but don’t try to do too much at once. Let this be a slow and concentrated practice.
Go slow (and turn it into a game).
From personal experience, I can tell you that it’s a good idea to take baby steps when trying to improve your bedroom communication. Start by discussing your sex lives in general and your favorite things your partner does that you enjoy most (anyone for a butt massage?).
After that, suggest trying new positions, introduce toys (a bullet is great for beginners), and when your communication starts to get better and better, then it’s time to bring up adding another person to your bedroom antics or even mentioning a play party. Going from zero to Christian Grey could be a bit daunting for your partner if you’ve never really had open doors of sexual communication previously, so start slow.
“Make it fun, play a game,” Estes says. “There are a ton of great sex talk games from truth or dare to actual flashcard questions that end in kissing and/or foreplay.” Cali suggests that taking the stress off the “heavy conversation” helps lighten the mood and makes communication easier.
“One of the easiest ways to test the waters with your partner is to say a friend is engaging in the behavior, and you want to know what your partner thinks about it,” Estes says. “For example, you can say, ‘A friend of mine mentioned that they found this sex club…’ and see what your partner has to say on the topic. You will know fairly quickly if they find it offensive or have any interest. You can gauge other inquiries by their responses.”
Have you thought about a threesome?
Throwing another person into the mix of your bedroom life was found to be the most difficult fantasy to bring up across the board—despite it being the most common shared fantasy between couples. This is totally understandable: You might envision a million negative scenarios going down, but if you trust your relationship and your partner, and stay positive, it might not be as scary as you think.
…if we don’t talk about what we really want in the sack, our sex lives just might not reach their full potential.
Lose the taboo (and talk anal!)
Discussing anal sex with a partner was found to be the second-hardest subject to broach with a partner, despite anal sex being a pretty common fantasy (this study found that 32.5 percent of women and 64.2 percent of men surveyed fantasized about anal sex). You’re not alone in your fantasies (phew!). For a list of common to uncommon fantasies, scroll down to page seven to find what percentage of males and females share your fantasy.
Ways to deal with your partner not wanting to try what you want to try…
You’ve taken the step to spruce up your sex life by communicating your sexy fantasies, but your significant other isn’t quite on your level… yet. Rejection can hurt, but Pari advises you try not to take it personally.
“Know that your partner may not feel as comfortable with certain sexual fantasies,” Pari says. “If rejection and not listening is an ongoing problem in the relationship, it may be best to enlist a third-party facilitator, such as a couple’s counselor, to help you communicate.” It may not happen right away, but it doesn’t hurt to try.
Now get to talking!
So what does all this information from the experts tell us? Talk about sex with your partner, because when you do, your sex life will become insanely more satisfying. You are not alone in your fantasies, and having fantasies is perfectly normal and healthy. Keep it positive and trust your partner. And more importantly, go out and have fun with sex. Here’s wishing you a waterfall of orgasms!
Kari Langslet is an avid dater, impulsive adventurer, unofficial therapist to friends and family, and animal lover. You’ll usually find her at a dive bar playing Jenga with her dog or headbanging into oblivion at a Brooklyn show. Stalk her on Instagram and Twitter @karilangslet.