How To Talk About Sexual Issues In Your Relationship
It’s unfortunate, but, like parking tickets or income tax, it’s a part of life. There are illimitable reasons sex isn’t always up to snuff, but it’s such a delicate topic, we tend to just sweep the issues under the rug. Right? WRONG!
The only thing worse than one underwhelming sexual episode is not talking about the underwhelming sexual episode (which mounts tension and then, more than likely, leads to multiple underwhelming sexual episodes). So let’s just cut out all the tension and get right to the point.
Mistake #1. Faking It.
Although the majority of women and men have admitted to faking an orgasm at least once, this is a very slippery slope. Yes, it’s a sensitive topic to discuss, but it’s an almost impossible one to bring up if it’s been buried under years of lies and resentment. (If you’re not feeling it, don’t fake it. Trust us.)
Mistake #2. Equating Love With Sexual Performance.
Sexual challenges are totally independent of relationship health. Create an environment that is full of affection, support, and safety. Hug and kiss often. Hold hands and make each other laugh. Weathering the ebbs and flows of sex is a natural part of a relationship, don’t let your connection pay the price.
Mistake #3. Staging A Cover Up.
Do not, we repeat, DO NOT keep your insecurities from your partner. As we age, different problems confront us all. Women might find it more difficult to climax or even get turned on, men can struggle with erections and endurance. Trust each other enough to be open and vulnerable about these changes. Why? Because if you aren’t honest, they will believe it’s their fault or your feelings towards them have changed. (Much more harmful than a couple of disappointing romps.)
If you avoid these mistakes like the plague, you’ll find yourself able to more quickly recover from less-than-satisfactory sex. And because communication is KEY, when you do talk to your partner about it, here is what experts recommend:
Tip #1. Focus On The Positive.
Instead of: “I think we really need to sit down and have a serious talk about the changes in our sex life lately…” Try: “My favorite thing you do in bed is…” Or: “One thing I love about our sex life is…”
Why? Because although the first statement is true - and honest - it commands a certain gravity and seriousness around the topic. And you know what works great as a buzzkill? Seriousness. When you’re both already hyper-sensitive to the fact that your sex is off, the last thing you need to do is fuel the flames of anxiety. Instead, start by telling your partner what you love! Then, keep expanding on the dialogue until you’re in an organic conversation about your sex.
Tip #2. Time It Right.
While you don’t want to wait until your 10-year anniversary to disclose the fact that you rarely orgasm - you also don’t want to bring up the conversation while you’re still between the sheets. "The best thing to do is to discuss things outside of the bedroom – not right after it happens, but days or even weeks later," says sex expert Jennifer Downey, MD. That way you each have perspective, objectivity, and you can let down your guard.
Tip #3. Keep In Mind That Sexuality Is An Extension of Identity.
When broaching the subject, keep in mind that who we are as sexual beings is wrapped up in how we view ourselves on a larger scale. It’s difficult, maybe impossible, to extricate our sexual performance from our role or our identity. Imagine a house of cards: sex is only one card, but it’s tied to power, money, value, desirability, worth, and attraction. Keep that in mind when speaking to your partner about their, er... performance, and operate from a place of compassion and non-judgement.
Relationships have good days and bad days - and sex lives do too. Remember that you can weather any storm by being open, honest, and respectful of one another’s experience. Use these tips (and avoid these mistakes) to move swiftly from “Mehh” to “Ahhh!!!”