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How to Talk About Sex With Your Partner

Openly talking about sex in your relationship is a skill. Not sure where to start? Here are 5 expert tips

Good sex doesn’t just magically happen — it requires effort and lots of open communication. Improving sexual communication is vital for a relationship, and yet talking about sex with your partner can feel daunting.

Whether you want more sex, want to try a new sexual fantasy, or you’re experiencing issues in your sex life, the road to a satisfying relationship is paved with slightly awkward chats. 

There are many reasons to have open and honest conversations about sex with your partner. Research finds that couples who talk about their sex life are more satisfied in bed and have overall higher relationship satisfaction

Couples with sexual problems report a lack of sexual communication, according to one study published in the Journal of Sex Research. Meanwhile, sexual communication was positively linked with all domains of sexual function, including desire, arousal, erection, lubrication, orgasm, and even less pain. So yeah, talking about sex is important — especially for women, the study concluded.

Being able to talk about difficult subjects with your partner can foster intimacy and bring couples closer, and having a “sex chat” is no different. 

“Talking about sex is a great way to ensure that communication stays open and clear about the expectations and desires surrounding sexual enjoyment,” says Aoife Dury, a COSRT-accredited psychosexual and relationship therapist

“It also facilitates a greater understanding of how to improve sexual experiences and increase intimacy,” she adds. “Having conversations about the struggles and challenges, alongside what helps to connect is a fantastic way to flourish as a couple.”

Talking about sex with your partner not only ensures you’re having mutually pleasurable sex but keeping lines of communication open also lets you establish boundaries as well as explore new sexual experiences. 

Openly talking about sex in your relationship is a skill, but it can also be a turn-on that will inevitably lead to a stronger relationship. Not sure where to start? Keep reading for some tips on how to talk to your partner about sex. 

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5 tips on how to talk about sex with your partner

1. Pick the right time and place 

“Timing is important,” says Drury. “Bringing these conversations up when you are in the middle of a disagreement or when you are in a rush, may mean that it doesn't end up being a fruitful conversation.” 

Plan the conversation when you’re both relaxed and in a good mood, and most importantly when you both have the time to chat. Find a neutral place to talk, such as the living room or kitchen, or outside while you’re on a walk. 

2. Don’t ambush your partner

“These conversations are difficult, and not everyone is ready at the same time,” says Drury.

“Ask your partner how it would best suit them to have the chat, and disclose what yours is too. Perhaps it's sitting down over dinner, or maybe it is easier when you are getting in the mood, or when disclosing fantasies. Make it fun by downloading some easy questionnaires, or by discussing types of touch you both like, perhaps engaging with your senses by using essential oils.”

3. Lead with the positives

“Start the conversation by acknowledging what’s working in your sex life,” recommends professor of sociology and intimacy at The Open University and Chief Relationships Officer at Paired Dr. Jacqui Gabb, who also recommends avoiding criticism. 

“Focus particularly on what you have enjoyed, what is most pleasurable, and what you would like more of,” says Drury. “Explore what is going well and how you feel things could improve. It's important not to place blame or criticism on the partner, so focus on 'I' statements and be clear in what you are saying.”

4. Stay consistent

This isn’t a one-and-done conversation, says Drury. “Carving out time to do a regular check-in generally is a really healthy way to know what may be happening for both of you, this should include your sex life.” 

The good news is that practice makes perfect, so over time the conversation will get easier. And remember: the more you talk about sex, the more your sex life — and relationship — will benefit. “Treat it as a journey to cultivate a better understanding of each other, rather than creating more distance,” Drury adds.

5. Be patient

“Reaching a point where both of your pleasure needs are met can take time,” says Dr. GabbWe all have different levels of openness about sex, so be patient with your partner if they’re not fully comfortable with the topic. 

“There may be experiences in your partner’s history that make this a distressing topic,” warns Dr. Gabb. In this case, it’s best to tread carefully and take baby steps. 

How to bring up sex: 11 conversation starters

If you’re looking for some questions to get the conversation going, below are 11 questions from Paired’s “Conversations for Better Sex” Question Pack. 

These questions are designed to break down barriers and help you and your partner unpack your feelings in a non-intimidating way.

  1. What do you consider to be great sex?

  2. What’s your goal during sex? 

  3. What do you wish your partner knew about your sexual desires? 

  4. How important is communication during sex?

  5. What holds you back from discussing sex with your partner? 

  6. How has your upbringing influenced your comfort level in talking about sex with others?

  7. When are you most comfortable discussing sex with your partner? Least comfortable?

  8. Where is the right place to talk about sex?

  9. Is there anything you’ve always wanted to try during sex but have been too embarrassed to ask?

  10. Can you be physically intimate without sex? How or how not?

  11. Name three things you could do to improve your sex life...

Download Paired more conversation starters and expert advice on how to talk about sex with your partner. If you need somewhere to start, complete the “Awkward Sex Chats” exercise designed by Dr. Pepper Schwartz. 

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