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Communicating sexual dissatisfaction

For many, having sex is easier than talking about it. Yet, couples who claim to have fantastic sex lives unanimously agree: A main ingredient in their secret sauce is communication. At first look, communication may not sound as sexy as wearing spicy lingerie, learning a new sex trick or becoming an exhibitionist, but the simple act of being able to communicate your needs and desires builds intimacy on a grand level. And if you don’t talk about them, chances are that sexual dissatisfaction will infect other areas of the relationship. Here’s a step-by-step guide to discussing sex with your partner.

Unhappy couple in bed after sex

Before sex

  • Clarify your issues for yourself. Before approaching the subject with your partner, you need to be clear on what your issues are. Sex is complicated, and your feelings could have as much to do with your own history as with your dissatisfaction with technical delivery from your partner. Sit with your thoughts for awhile. Talk to your friends or write feelings down. This process will help you get clear before engaging in a sensitive topic.

  • Get really familiar with your body. Make sure that you have done some thorough treasure hunting (so to speak) so that, when you make requests of your partner, you can do so specifically.
  • Consider the location for your conversation. Bringing up sexual dissatisfactions in bed is a bad move, because it may create an association of negativity there. Instead, choose a neutral, non-threatening place or activity (when you are fully clothed) such as taking an evening walk or sitting on the beach.
  • Timing is important. Raising concerns or ideas just before you are about to knock boots or minutes before guests are arriving for dinner is not good timing. Carve out a special time when you will be uninterrupted so that you can chat freely. Don’t bombard him after a tough day at work.
  • Remind yourself that a good, solid, trusting partner cares about you and your sexual satisfaction. This means that you can let go of fears and walk into the conversation with ease, knowing that this is an opportunity to bring you two closer together.

During sex

  • If you’re nervous, mention why talking about it is hard. Be honest about how you feel when the topic is raised, and why you think you feel that way. Feel free to laugh here!
  • Start with a general question such as, “What do you like about our sex life?” This will open up a free dialogue to talk about all of the wonderful things and segue naturally to the hurdles.
  • Own your sexual needs rather than cast blame for what you aren’t getting. For example, instead of saying, “You don’t spend enough time down there,” say, “I find that, to reach climax, I need slower, steadier stimulation. It usually takes a bit of time for me to come.” This approach invites him into the process rather than putting him on the defensive.
  • Apprecite his openness to listen and learn. Encourage him to share any dissatisfaction he may have, too, so that you can both grow.

After sex

  • Offer positive feedback frequently. Reward progress and don’t look for perfection. Men, in particular, need to hear that their efforts are being noticed so that they continue trying.
  • Don’t be shy. Continue conversations in the bedroom and explore together by playing show-and-tell to teach each other what brings you the most pleasure. When in the bedroom, concentrate only on the positive.
  • Keep an open dialogue about sex. After you engage in sex, discuss what was great and what both of you would like to make even better. Be kind and use the sandwich approach: a gentle criticism sandwiched between two compliments.

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