Many people believe that they are naturally good lovers and were born with this ability. Others think they’re not good and will never get better. The bottom line is that the best lovers have learned to listen to feedback from their partners and responded accordingly.

Sexual communication is often one of the hardest parts of a relationship. Why don’t people talk about sex? Often they don’t have the vocabulary to express themselves. For example, many are caught between formal terms and sexual slang. It might be as uncomfortable for someone to say “fellatio” as it is for someone else to say “blow job.” Don’t laugh if your partner uses a term that seems silly to you; to him or her, it may be the easiest way to talk about a potentially uncomfortable subject.

Negative or shameful feelings about sex may also contribute to a lack of communication. You might have a better sex life if you felt less guilt about what turns you on sexually. A third sexual communication roadblock is fear of hurting someone else’s feelings. People tend to cherish the image of themselves as good lovers, so when they are critiqued, they tend to withdraw in hurt or anger. 

Without tools for sexual communication, people often end up doing sexual activities they don’t enjoy, or they don’t get what they want sexually simply because they don’t know how to ask for it. Often people feel embarrassed about expressing their desires for fear of what their partners will think or how they’ll respond.

Similarly, people tend to assume their partners know what they like in the bedroom. Often, people give no feedback on their experience in order to please a partner. So partners think whatever they are doing is right and keep doing it. This results in sex that is repetitive, mundane, or boring.

One of the best ways to make sexual communication easier is to take the conversation out of the bedroom. Here are some guidelines to get you started.

  • Make sure both people are ready to discuss their needs and wants.
  • Tell your partner what you need to feel safe. This could be anything from no laughing at suggestions to a requirement that the kids be asleep.  
  • Agree on confidentiality.
  • Tell your partner about and show appreciation for behaviors and actions you do love. “I really love it when you…”
  • Respect differences in sexual interests; you do not need to agree to do any particular activity, but do not automatically disregard preferences.
  • Listen without interrupting.
  • Mirror what your partner is saying. This is just repeating what you heard your partner say. “I hear that you would like to try…”
  • Make “I feel” statements.

You also can increase your sexual pleasure by learning how to have a conversation in the bedroom. Here are some guidelines.

  • As you touch your partner, ask for feedback. For example, kiss his or her nipple in a particular way, and ask, “Does this feel good? Would you like me to do this harder, softer, faster, slower?”
  • Each time you ask a question and do something different, wait for your partner to answer. You can also allow your partner to guide you by using simple words: harder, softer, slower, faster, left, right, up, or down. This way you’re able to avoid negative criticism about what you’re doing.

Finally, it is important to respect your partner’s communication and guidance. This will build trust between you. As your sexual communication skills improve, so will the overall quality of the relationship.