Possible Barriers to Sexual Communication
- Fear of being considered "strange" - For many people, there is concern that a partner will think their desires are "strange" and thus think that there is something wrong with them.
- Fear of being mocked - Almost worse than the fear of being seen as "strange" is the fear of being mocked. I have often heard people say, "But what if he/she makes it a joke and teases me about it?"
- Fear of rejection - When sharing desires with another person, there is always the possibility that they will not be interested in the same things. They may reject something that you would like to try, and that's okay. This doesn't mean they think there is something wrong with your desires, only that they don't share them.
- Fear of being a "slut" - For women especially, there is often a fear of being seen as a "slut" or being viewed as nothing beyond a sexual object. Sometimes women will not allow themselves to seem to eager sexually or express desire for more taboo experiences out of fear of judgement.
- Fear of hurting your partner - Often, people will hesitate to communicate about their likes and dislikes out of concern for their partner's feelings. Simply tolerating the "magic finger trick" or "lollipop lick" that does nothing for you - or, worse, makes you cringe every time - seems like a small price to pay in order to spare the feelings of someone you care for.
- Fear of not being good enough - Sometimes, talking about sex is scary because there's the chance that your partner might not like something you've been doing. Learning that can be hard, but the end result - a more satisfying sexual relationship - is worth it!
- No judgements - Make a commitment to your partner that you will not judge each other, even if you don't understand or desire the same things. This is essential to each of you feeling comfortable sharing these intimate pieces of yourselves.
- Keep an open mind - You may hear things you are not expecting or that initially shock you. Take some time to think about these things and consider whether you could be interested.
- Be adventurous - Be open to trying new things. If your partner is curious about something that you may not really be interested in, but you are not truly uncomfortable with, try it. You may be surprised by the result.
- Be respectful - No matter how strong your desire to try some new thing may be, if your partner tells you they are really uncomfortable with or opposed to it, you need to let it go. Safe, healthy, sexual communication cannot exist when either partner is being pushed to do things they don't want to do.
- Commit to honesty - No faking! Faking pleasure or orgasm undermines sexual communication. Every time your partner believes he/she has pleased you, it reinforces what they were doing. If he thinks his "magic finger trick" gets you there every time, or she thinks her "lollipop lick" makes you so crazy that you have to have her immediately, that's what you're going to keep getting.
- Your partner's desires aren't about you - If your partner doesn't like something you're doing, that is not a slight against you. Everyone likes to be touched and talked to in different ways. This is what makes communication so important! The same goes for fantasies and desires. Just because your partner enjoys toys or gets turned on by the thought of a threesome doesn't mean you're not enough; these are just other pieces of your partner's sexuality. Fantasies (such as about a threesome) and actions (actually setting up a threesome) are different. Don't confuse the two.
- Mention the good stuff - When cuddle time feels nice, tell your partner that. If a kiss feels particularly good, tell him, "I like it when you kiss me like that." If she looks great today, tell her so! Everyone loves a compliment, and nothing is more effective at reinforcing behavior than positive feedback!
- Take turns - Spend an evening with your partner, taking turns telling the other person how and where you'd like to be touched. The more specific you are, the more helpful it is. Saying something like, "Run your hands down my sides" is not nearly as effective as, "Lightly run your fingers down my rib cage to my hipbone."
- Give commands - During sexual activities, don't be afraid to give a few commands here and there. You don't want to be a drill sergeant who is barking orders, but a soft and sexy command to touch you in a certain place or way can be very arousing.
- Play show and tell - Run your hands over your body in the same way you want your partner to touch you, and tell him you love it when he touches you like that. Grab your partner's hips and move them against you with your hands, and tell her how good it feels when she moves like that. Place your hand over your partner's and show him how to touch you. The possibilities here are endless.
- Share your dreams - Literally! An easy, non-threatening way to open up conversation about trying new things is to share dreams or fantasies you have had. You can start with, "I had this really hot dream..." or, "This kind of crazy thought popped in my head, but I think I liked it..." Follow with a description of your fantasy and end with, "What do you think?"
- Watch and learn - Watch pornography together. This can really help start a conversation about what appeals to each of you, and what doesn't. You can explore things you are curious about, and talk about your reactions. You may even get a few ideas for new positions or experiences you would like to try together.
- Stop talking- Sometimes, communication is more about what you do than what you say. Make an effort to be more aware of each others' body language and nonverbal cues, and use those to determine what they enjoy. A quick intake of breath, trembling thigh, bitten lip, arched back, tensing muscles...all of these are signals your partner is sending you without a word.
Communicating your sexual desires to another person can be scary, but the benefits to your relationship and your sexuality are immeasurable. Remember: These ideas are not all going to work for every person, so take what you like and leave the rest. Does anyone have any other tips to share?