When it comes to communication about sex with our partners, sometimes it can feel like speaking a foreign language. But guess what? It doesn’t have to! Not only is the sex-positivity movement about our personal sexual empowerment, but it’s also about learning to be empathetic, attentive partners with all of our sexual encounters.
We’re going to break down all the sexpectations we learn from society (plus, how we project these sexpectations onto our partners), the sexpectations we learn to put on ourselves, & real scripts to get the conversation around sex flowing naturally. Ready to get learning??
Sex Communication aka Communication About Sex
Whether we want to believe it or not, we probably have sexpectaions for our partners.
Part of this is learned, part of this is lack of proper (a.k.a. actually helpful) sex education, part of it is the media we grow up consuming. There’s a lot of just plain bad relationship communication tactics we see shown in the media, read about in Teen Vogue, or interpreted from a young age after watching our first fairytale.
So, what are healthy sexpectations, you ask? Is there such a thing?
Yes, friend. There is such a thing.
Expecting your partner(s) to communicate with you is a healthy sexpectation. When it comes to sex (or anything for that matter), we aren’t mind-readers. We can’t look at our partners (no matter how hot they are or how much we may love them or how well we connected with them at dinner) & think, “mhhh, yes. They want me to do ____ & ____ with a side of ____ to them tonight.”
Nope. It absolutely does not work like that (it also doesn’t work in the reverse—none of our partners can read our minds).
Each of us on this whole entire planet has different preferences, different bodies, different core sexual desires, different turn-ons, & different ideas of what makes good sex. When we are getting to know someone, we talk about movie preferences, our favorite foods, how we like our favorite cocktail made, or if we like cilantro or biologically think it’s gross. So, why not talk about how we like our clitoris or penis to be touched in our favorite ways? Or literally anything else in the realm of sexuality.
Sex communication may feel awkward & uncomfy at first because we were basically taught that once things start to get hot & heavy, any dialogue about said hot & heaviness is a “mood-killer.” I think the people who say such things are mood-killers because talking about sex is hot, hot, HOT (read in Michael Scott voice).
Play along with me for a minute: think of your sexual preferences as you think of your food preferences. Now, imagine you’re on a first date & your date asks, “do you want to share the artichoke pizza?” & you say, “I don’t actually prefer artichokes, but I’d be happy to share the ___.”
Sex communication can literally be THAT easy.
Yes, really, I mean it. Imagine it is later in the evening on that same first date. Things are heating up & your date asks, “do you want to have penetrative sex?” & you say, “I don’t feel ready for penetrative sex tonight, but I’d love to do ___.” See the resemblance here?
Sex communication doesn’t have to be so scary & awkward. Also, remember that awkward doesn’t have to mean *bad*. Awkward can just mean a little uncomfy & a little bit of uncomfy conversation that leads to happy, fulfilling sex & open communication in a relationship? I mean, I’m in.
Another aspect of this is: your orgasm isn’t your partner’s responsibility. Wild, right?
Obviously, we love making each other orgasm. It’s fun & satisfying to give someone pleasure, AND we all receive pleasure differently. So, if you aren’t communicating to your partner what *really* gets you going, expecting isn’t quite fair.
Communicating leads to way more happiness for ALL parties involved. I personally love it when my partner tells me what he wants. It’s like, “oooh, THANK YOU.” Now I’m not just hoping I’m pleasuring him, I know for sure!
How To Receive Critique in Sex Communication
Now, let’s talk about “taking things too personally” when it comes to being “corrected” by a partner sexually, others voicing their sexual preferences, & how to not shame our partners (even if it’s unintentional).
First things first, I would venture to say that if someone “corrects” our technique during sex, that it is not coming from a place of thinking we are “bad” at sex.
For example, I know how my body receives pleasure best; it’s just the truth! So, if I guide my partner by saying, “could you try ___?” Or “try doing that a bit softer.” I am not “correcting” him, I am simply guiding him to ensure the ultimate pleasure experience for my body (which also turns my partner on because he knows he’s really turning me on). Which is the goal right?
Giving, listening, receiving, communicating… all of these things are the true *key* points of any sexual experience.
Penis owners, in our society, learn from a young age that when it comes to sex, they are supposed to know exactly what they are doing.
This is so harmful because it doesn’t leave a lot of room for communication & it leaves a whole lot of room for shame. Also, this teaches that sex is purely physical & that having sexpectations of what your partner wants is okay.
Meaning, what we see in media (passion, spontaneity, only penetrative sex, quickies) is the “goal” of sexual encounters. So, when what we do is critiqued in the bedroom, we get defensive because we’ve pretty much been conditioned to.
Leave your ego at the door & allow yourself to be truly vulnerable (not just the naked & sexy vulnerable; be the kind of vulnerable that is ready to listen & learn). Being “good” at sex isn’t so much intertwined with the physicality of sex, but the ability to listen, learn, & respond accordingly.
Moral of this short story: critique does not mean bad. Critique is good. It means someone wants to work with you on enjoying your sex life with them. That’s magic, baby.
Removing the Shame From Our Language in Sex Communication
It’s a sad reality that shame & sex go hand-in-hand in our society, but we’re going to start changing that with the language we use. What do I mean? Let me give you an example.
Imagine you & a sexual partner are sitting on the couch, sipping wine, & talking about sexual desires. You want to better understand what the other person finds sexy & how you can enrich your sex life together. You share your desire (something along the lines of wanting to experiment with hot wax, massages candles, & sexy oils). Then your partner shares, “I actually have a pretty big foot fetish. I would love to do more foot play & explore what we could do sexually in this area.” You don’t really vibe with this idea (& that’s okay), but here are two different ways you could respond.
1. “Ew, no! I am absolutely not interested in that!”
This response immediately creates shame that burns in your partner’s chest. It also creates confusion because you both were taking turns & your partner fully accepted your desire, so why couldn’t you accept theirs?
This makes your partner afraid of opening up to you in the future & afraid to feel truly vulnerable with you again when it comes to sharing.
** The second response option is**
2. “Baby, thank you so much for being vulnerable with me! I never knew you had wanted to explore that. I’m not fully sure what that looks like, but I’m happy to listen to your ideas & try anything I feel comfortable with.”
See the difference? The second response shows care, is judgment-free, holds space for the other person, & absolutely ensures that this person doesn’t feel shame for expressing themself (while also maintaining your boundaries & what you are comfortable with).
The key here is this: we will not always align with our partners on what we desire sexually. Being attentive & showing curiosity is SO important to not only have a better sex life but to reeeeally connect deeply with our partner & diminish shame.
Disappointment & Lack of Sex Communication (Coincidence?? I think not!)
*Quietly hoping enough of you got that reference*. Anyways, onto disappointment!
I was talking with a friend not too long ago who wanted to share about their sex life & the ways they were not meeting eye-to-eye with their partner. They were sharing all their disappointments (which are always valid), but once they finished talking I asked, “have you talked with them about all this? Do they know how you are feeling?” They stared back at me & then said, “No. I don’t know how to tell them without making them feel bad.”
There it is folks! It’s a valid feeling AND nothing ever changes without brutally honest conversation (I don’t mean brutally in a mean way, I mean it in the way of how being honest can feel brutal sometimes).
Okay, so how do we bring up these hard conversations with our partners? With love & intentionality. Are you picking up on a theme in this article yet??
Let me provide you with another example: you are approaching your partner about your sex life. You are feeling disconnected, disappointed, & wanting to understand what’s going on. Here’s a not-so-great approach:
1. “What is wrong with you? What is wrong with our sex life? Why won’t you work with me? I feel like I’m doing everything myself!”
Do you hear the intertwined shame in these words? The blame? How it instantly could make someone feel blamed, shamed, & defensive? It doesn’t leave much room for vulnerability to happen or for all parties to feel safe.
Instead, we could say…
2. “Hey, baby. I want to talk with you about our sex life. I’ve honestly been feeling disappointed, not in you, but with our situation. I want to feel connected to you because I care about you so much. Is there anything going on you want to talk about? I want us to help each other get to where we want to be: feeling connected & that we can be honest with each other. I am ready to listen to whatever you have to say.”
Hear the difference? Do you feel the safe space created with that second approach?
Blaming & shaming are NEVER the right approach when we are craving intimacy + connection. (And we don’t use that word lightly around here…)
Even if we feel disappointed & confused, we will always get to the end goal faster by meeting our partners with kindness & attentiveness. Always.
One last random thought for you: mystery in the bedroom isn’t as sexy as it seems unless you are role-playing.
Communication is far sexier.
Voicing your needs, encouraging your partners to voice theirs… there’s really no point for mystery around those things. It isn’t cute to be in a perpetual state of wonder about how someone receives the most pleasure. Talk.
Flex Your Muscles (We Want Tickets To Your Vulnerability Gun Show)
Are we all feeling sexy, empathetic, & ready to tackle potentially awkward sex-related conversations now?
It’s okay if your answer is no; all of this takes time. So, keep flexing those sex communication muscles of yours & know that it does get easier to formulate the words! Promise.
Also, know that even if it feels uncomfy, airing out our “dirty laundry”, or in this case, our sexual mishaps & desires, will always (& I mean always) feel better than holding it inside.
Inside is where things build resentment or shame & it doesn’t give any opportunity for intimacy. Air out that laundry, babes! You, your partners, & your sex life deserve it!
Need something to help you get started? You can download our “Would You?” list here: