The key to a successful relationship is good communication – and the same applies to sexual relationships, relationship experts agree.
“Unfortunately people are generally more comfortable having sex than talking about it,” says clinical psychologist Larissa Ernst, who specialises in relationship and sex therapy (www.larissaernst.com). Follow her advice below on how to negotiate these tricky conversations.
1. The Safe-Sex Conversation
It's easy to get caught up in a new romance, but it's vital that you discuss safe sex before you start a sexual relationship, says Ernst. "Your sexual health has direct implications for your overall health, as well as the future of your relationship, and possible future relationships,” she says. “There’ll probably never be a 'best time' to bring up this topic, but most couples enter into conversations where they start sharing more about themselves, their past, and perhaps even an overview of previous relationships. Use this conversation to open up the conversation about sexual health."
How to do it: Don't beat around the bush, says Ernst. Simply ask how they view safe sex and then move on to discuss sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs). If either of you has had an STD, you need to share how you have treated or are treating it.
- 'I really like you and want to have sex with you, but before we do that I want to hear your thoughts on safe sex.'
- Or: 'I've been tested for STDs since I last slept with someone – how about you?'
2. The Pushing-All-The-Right-Buttons Conversation
"Optimal sexual satisfaction and fulfilment is dependent on whether your own sexual needs are being fulfilled,” explains Ernst. “So you have to communicate what you want, like, and maybe even dislike. This communication can often also be non-verbal – indicating your preferences to your partner in subtle ways as part of sexual play."
How to do it: Sex discussions don't always have to be serious, which is why Ernst suggests trying to communicate in a playful way. Just ensure you stay away from any criticism and put the emphasis on what you need rather than what your partner is or isn't doing.
- 'I really liked it when you did X and was wondering if there is anything in particular that turns you on?'
- Or: 'I really love having sex with you and would like to try this…'
3. The Fantasy Conversation
"Sexual fantasies can bring our creative, playful sides into a relationship, which can also enhance the eroticism," explains Ernst. Talking about them can be difficult as you may feel vulnerable and fear rejection, but opening up can also strengthen your relationship.
How to do it: "Approach it not as a once-off conversation where everything is shared, but rather as a process – something that grows and develops with your relationship. So start off with something smaller and as time progresses in the relationship and you build trust, you can share deeper things that maybe make you feel a little embarrassed.”
- 'I have a fantasy that I would like to tell you about, but I'm a little nervous about sharing it.'
- Or: 'I have this fantasy and I was wondering if you would be keen to try it out?'
4. The Frequency Conversation
You and your partner are going to have different expectations and desires regarding the frequency of sex, and these are likely to change throughout your relationship. Because it's easy to get caught up in a pattern of accusations and defensiveness, Ernst recommends avoiding any form of criticism.
"Rather try to form an understanding of how your partner functions. There may be a rhythm – times when they’re easily aroused and intimate, and times when they’re avoidant. Factors that may influence this are stress, hormonal changes, conflict, or other unfinished emotional business.Try and learn to read this more accurately with understanding, which will enhance your intimacy. "
How to do it: If you try to push for more sex, he or she is likely to do the opposite and avoid it more, says Ernst. Instead, express your need for more sex – without criticism – and ask your partner if you can work out a way to try and accommodate each other.
- 'I think the sex we have is great and would love to have more of it, but sometimes when I’m stressed [insert personal factor here], it’s the last thing on my mind. What affects your sex drive?'
Remember that the above aren't once-off conversations; as your relationship grows and evolves, you'll want to revisit some of these topics.
How Clicks Clinics can help you
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