Saturday, March 22, 2008

Intimate Communication: Discussing Sex

Talking about sex, especially when it involves unmet needs or different desires, can be a challenge. We don’t want to put ourselves in such a vulnerable position, we don’t want to be judged by our partner, and we certainly don’t want our needs greeted with indifference or contempt. Fearing these things and more, we often shy away from discussing one of the most intimate areas of our relationship.

Yet, if we are comfortable enough to take our clothes off and have sex with a person, we should be comfortable enough to discuss sex, including likes and dislikes. There are several key elements to making such discussions less anxiety producing for both partners.

The first element is avoiding such discussions while in bed, or directly after making love. No one wants to feel like their lovemaking techniques are being critiqued. There is a much greater chance of being met with hostility if you choose to have such a discussion during or directly after lovemaking. Wait until you are in a relaxed, private setting outside the bedroom and think about what you want to say before saying it.

Another important thing to keep in mind is to avoid making statements that sound like accusations. For example, if you say, “I like it better when you rub my legs instead of my arms,” you are giving your partner good information. You will get a better response than if you say; “You always rub my arms instead of my legs and I hate that.”

Remember that your mate may have some issues too, and be open to listening without getting offended. You can’t expect your mate to openly accept your comments and then react negatively when he or she voices needs or desires, likes or dislikes. Be aware that there are most likely some things that your mate doesn’t like and be prepared to deal with this knowledge. Don’t take it as an insult; take it for what it is, honest communication.

Also, never criticize or make light of your partner’s comments. If it is important enough for the person to mention, it is important enough for you to pay attention. In a loving relationship, getting these things out in the open should come as a relief instead of coming as an insult. If you want to improve your relationship, you must know where the trouble spots are if you hope to fix them.

Even if you are content in the relationship, make a conscious effort to notice whether your partner seems truly happy or is just going through the motions. If he or she seems to be holding back, or isn’t as interested in sex as before, you may need to draw the other person into conversation (no matter how much you might prefer to avoid it).

Sexual problems, much like other problems, will not go away if you ignore them. Instead, work to develop a relationship based on open communication, especially when it comes to sex, and you and your partner will both be happier for it.

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