Make Your Desires Heard
Communication Skills Your Parents Never Taught You
So many misunderstandings, disagreements and impasses boil down to poor communication. How we communicate is clearly one of the keys to successful and happy relationships. Yet we are rarely taught or modeled the skills on how to do this effectively in general, much less in sexual matters. We struggle with how to share both simple requests on how to make a particular stroke more pleasurable to revealing our deepest innermost desires without offense, judgment or rejection. The following are some suggestions on how to successfully and collaboratively build your communication repertoire.
Small Steps: Don’t thrust a long laundry list of issues onto your unsuspecting partner out of the blue. Test the waters- for yourself and for your partner- with simple requests. When you are enjoying pleasure together, start with stating something you like about what your partner is doing and add one thing you would like differently. You might like the pressure, the part of their finger or tongue or toy that they are using, the length of the stroke, but perhaps you would prefer your partner to slow down a little or add some lubricant. Stating what is working first gives your partner some confidence in what they are doing and also ensures that after hearing your request, they don’t change everything. “I love the pressure, can you please slow it down though?”
What if your partner doesn’t slow down enough (a classic problem)? Then acknowledge first and ask for more: “That is slower. Can you please go a little slower still?” Or specify that the pace is currently at a 7 and you want to slow it down to a 3. If you are on the receiving end of feedback request for something slower, faster, harder, to the right etc. check in and ask “Is this slow/ fast/ hard/ right enough or do you still need more?” Do your best to get it as close to how they want it as possible. A partner may not make the same request twice.
What if there is nothing I like about what my partner is doing? There is always something positive you can say. For example, it may seem challenging to find anything positive about a tongue in one’s ear. However, you can always compliment them on their skill: “Sweetie, you are so agile with your tongue. I would enjoy it even more down here.”
The Bigger Issues: On a morning walk, while enjoying a glass of wine or after flopping onto the couch once the kids are in bed, play the game “Three Oranges and a Lemon”. Each partner states three things that they enjoy about their erotic connection and one thing they want differently. For example, one might say:
“I love how you touch and kiss my whole body.
I love it when you look hungrily into my eyes during sex.
I love that you patiently give me all the attention I need until I orgasm. “
“And sometimes I need more foreplay before we have intercourse” or “And I would love to explore some new things with you to keep our relationship exciting. “
It is encouraging to hear what is working (and again makes it more likely that those practices continue) and makes us more willing to accommodate new requests when we feel like we are already on the right track.
The REALLY Big Things: A formula for difficult conversations by www.reidaboutsex.com is really useful for talking about those big things that we really want to say but fear will be the downfall of the relationship. It begins with brainstorming all of the terrible things we are afraid will happen if we are honest with our partner (A: eg hurting their feelings, being judged, feeling distant). Then outline all the possible positive outcomes we hope will result when we share this deep secret with our partner (B: eg feeling closer, enjoying more pleasure, giving the relationship a sexy boost). List in hand, find a good time to talk with your partner and ask if it is OK to bring something up. If so, begin with stating that you are nervous about telling them something for fear of all of the reasons (A). But that you want to tell them because you are hoping for all of the (B) outcomes. Chances are that by now your partner is all ears, open, curious and empathetic, wanting to make all of the (B) outcomes a reality for both of you. When you finally divulge your deep secret, you may be surprised at how easily your partner heard you and how much they want to create the same outcome you desire. You may even wonder in hindsight why it was so hard for you to bring it up in the first place.
The Challenge not to Settle: Decide that you will no longer endure sex that is not up to your standard. Use the small feedback suggestion regularly to change just one thing for the better. Practice “Three Oranges and a Lemon” a few times a year as “maintenance”, a fun way to keep on top of what is working and keeping it fresh. And practice the Difficult Conversation Formula for any issues that somehow grew bigger than you imagined. Over time, reap the benefits of closeness and less awkward communication as you become pros at communicating your desires and fulfilling your wishes for a fabulous erotic connection.