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Talking to Your Partner about Sex

When it comes to talking about sex, how you approach the conversation is just as important as what you say during it. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you’re planning a frank discussion about sex.


Watch your timing. Make sure you’ve cleared the air of any outstanding (non-sex-related) issues, like your frustration over chores that’ve been left undone, the fact that you haven’t gotten to spend enough quality time together recently, or how you hate that your partner is always, always late for rendezvous. Once issues like these have been resolved, make sure that you’ve let go of lingering resentments or anger. The last thing you want to do is to mix up a conversation about sex with a back-and-forth over who left that huge stack of dirty dishes in the sink.


Then, identify an opportune moment for an intimate talk. Here’s when not to instigate a discussion about sex: right before your parents arrive for dinner, during an argument, or when you’re actually in the middle of having sex. Instead, choose a moment in which neither one of you are in a hurry, and when you’re both feeling relatively relaxed—perhaps when you’re cuddling, sharing a meal, or just chatting after a satisfying sex romp. Alternatively, think about setting aside some time each week (or every two weeks, or each month) to check in with your partner on how things are going—financially, emotionally, or erotically. “Taking the temperature” of a relationship in this way helps ensure that you’re both happy with things the way they are, and that you’re both comfortable with where you’re going. And it’s an ideal time to talk about your sexual desires and fantasies. Checking in with each other regularly prevents resentment from building up in either or both of you, and lets you voice your dissatisfaction before a major blow-up takes place.


Use these techniques to start

Begin by talking about yourself. How are you feeling in the moment? Name the emotions—such as awkwardness, fear, anxiety, excitement—that arise from bringing up a new topic, or from talking about your sex life at all. As you broach the topic, take responsibility for and talk about your own feelings and desires, limitations, and fears. Even if you are feeling erotically uninspired in this relationship, take ownership in the ways that you contribute to or enable this pattern. Nobody wants to feel blamed, so try not to focus solely on what’s wrong or on what isn’t working. Instead, open the discussion by telling your partner what you love about your sex life, since a positive approach will make her or him feel comfortable, open, and ready to pay close attention to what you’re saying.


A more playful (but no less informative!) way to kick off a discussion about sex is to play a communication game called Three Oranges and a Lemon (from my friend Nancy who taught me this years ago). In it, each person tells the other three things that they love about their erotic life together, plus one thing that they’d like to do differently. For example, you might say:

“I love that you like to surprise me with new toys and sexy clothes.”

“I love how you throw me up against the wall and kiss me deeply.”

“I love the way you give me oral sex until I come.”

“And I’d love to try bondage—on both of us,” or “And I’m interested in adding some variety to our repertoire, like sex toys,” or “I’m curious about prostate play”—whatever it is that you’d like to try.


Of course, sometimes we find ourselves too nervous to initiate conversations like these because we’re afraid of how our partners will interpret them. But a little prep work before the convo starts can go a long way. Sex and relationship expert Reid Mihalko has developed a simple process for helping people organize their ideas and prepare what they want to articulate to their partners in a way that will encourage acceptance and understanding. Click here for his “Difficult Conversation Formula” for broaching difficult subjects.

Excerpt from Anal Sex Basics

For more communication suggestions or more information about enjoying anal pleasure, check out Carlyle Jansen’s Anal Sex Basics.