How Sexually Satisfied Couples In Long-Term Relationships Talk About Sex

What do sexually satisfied couples talk about? Moreover, how do sexually satisfied couples talk about sex, especially when they have been together for years? According to one of the largest research studies on heterosexual couples to have ever been conducted (and that was published in the Journal of Sex Research this month), communication centered around sex and intimacy is one of the most important factors of happy long-term relationships.

The study, led by researchers from Chapman University, California State University, Sonoma State University, and the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University, surveyed 39,000 heterosexual people residing in the US who had been in a partnership for at least three years. Respondents answered a survey posted on MSNBC.com in which they " were asked to rate how satisfied they were with the sex during the first six months of their relationships, and to compare that to how they felt at the time of the study." Their answers provided great insight into how long-term couples maintain happiness, and much of that happiness stems from a still exciting, pleasing, and loving sex life. In addition to incorporating different positions and finding new ways to set the mood, the researchers found that, more than anything, communication contributes to a good sex life for decades.

In the survey, both men and women were asked to identify their "strongest predictors" of satisfying sexual encounters with their partners, and both included communication in their top three. The five most important forms of communication for fostering a great sex life, according to survey results, are praising your partner for something they did during sex, asking your partner to do something during sex, your partner asking you to do something during sex, sending each other teasing messages or making teasing phone calls throughout the day, and asking each other for feedback.

The survey also revealed that there are specific communicative acts that occur in the midst of sex for happy couples. Melanie Schilling, a dating and relationship expert at eHarmony, suggested that this type of communication is so beneficial to a relationship because it demonstrates bravery and strength within a partnership, and allows couples to correct any behaviors that may be negatively affecting their sex lives. Said Schilling to the Sydney Morning Herald, "[You have] to be brave with your communication. If you're not satisfied with your sex life or where it's going, [then you need] to have that courageous conversation."

Communication works. Dr. Janet Lever, one of the study's authors, told The Independent, “It was encouraging to learn that more than one-third of couples kept passion alive, even after a decade or two together." Let's take a closer look at the kinds of communication techniques used by happy couples who have maintained love and sexual chemistry in their long-term relationships:

1. They Praise Their Partners

Positive reinforcement during and after sex proves vital to couple satisfaction and happiness. And it makes sense; when you let your partner know that they are killin' it in the bedroom, those moves will stay in their repertoire, and you will stay satisfied.

2. They Ask Each Other For Things During Sex

Partners are lovers, but they aren't mind-readers. So you shouldn't feel weird about expressing specific desires and needs to each other. Happy couples also want to explore new sexual frontiers (with consent) that will increase pleasure for both parties. This kind of communication ensures that you won't feel frustrated after every encounter because, for example, you need oral sex in order to achieve orgasm but your partner never performs it. Instead, you ask for it.

3. Teasing Phone Calls, Emails, And Texts Throughout The Day

Remember when you didn't live with your partner and you weren't yet used to having sex with them? And every encounter was filled with anticipation? This kind of playful communication throughout the day is reminiscent of the early flirtations at the beginnings of relationships. Maintaining this type of teasing contact helps keep that spark alive by building anticipation on a regular basis.

4. They Ask For Feedback

You and your partner should be open to the idea that listening to each other and checking in with each other can lead to greater pleasure. Feedback isn't an insult or an insinuation of bad performance; it's a healthy and effective way to help each other have the best time possible. Once again, may I reiterate that neither you nor your partner should expect to be able to read each others minds! Happy couples want to provide each other with orgasms galore, and want each other to feel safe and heard in intimate situations. One of the best ways to achieve that is by asking for feedback regarding what your partner likes and doesn't like.

5. They Say "I Love You" During Sex

According to the study, 75 percent of sexually satisfied respondents reported that either they or their partner said "I love you" during sex, while only 46 percent of dissatisfied couples reported this kind of behavior. It makes sense that physical intimacy which compels you to simultaneously express emotional intimacy signifies a deeper comfort, trust, and connection — and thus, greater happiness.

Additional mood variables noted by the researchers included incorporating sexy talk into sexual encounters and being able to laugh together when something funny or awkward goes down in the midst of sexy time. Again, dirty talk without embarrassment and laughter instead of shameful feelings when something embarrassing does happen (and let's be real, sex can get awkward sometimes) demonstrate a certain type of emotional safety and lightheartedness.

Want more of Bustle's Sex and Relationships coverage? Check out our video on sex positions for small penises:

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