You always hear about how communication in the bedroom is a) sexy and b) essential for people's likes and dislikes to be recognized. But, the problem is, we as a society are taught not to talk about sex — not in bed and not ever. So, even when we want to spice up our sex lives or work on our consent, we end up tongue-tied.
Aside from discomfort with talking about sex in general, many people feel anxious about wounding their partners' egos, which leads them to stay silent when they want to switch things up. But there are artful ways of giving sexual feedback, like any kind of feedback, without making your partner feel bad. The trick is to make sure that they know how much you enjoy your sex life overall, despite any minor adjustments you're looking to make. As long as you're kind about it, they shouldn't make you feel bad for being honest.
Clinical sexologist and relationship coach Claudia Six, PhD, author of Erotic Integrity: How To Be True To Yourself Sexually, often helps her patients overcome obstacles to speaking up in bed. Here are some tips from her on getting our biggest needs met in the bedroom through good communication.
1. Start Outside The Bedroom
People feel less vulnerable when they're not receiving direct feedback on something they're doing right in the moment, says Six. Just make sure to start the conversation when you're face-to-face and not trying to get anything else done.
2. Be Positive
Since people can get sensitive about their sexual skills, try to frame something in the positive whenever possible. For example, instead of saying, "stop doing it like this," say, "try it this way." Instead of saying "X doesn't really do anything for me," try, "Y feels so good." Instead of saying, "that's too slow," try, "faster." You get the idea.
3. Sandwich Negative Feedback With Compliments
If you must give negative feedback, Six recommends the "positive sandwich": start with "I love it when you...", tell them "I'd love it even more of you'd...", and end with "I appreciate that we can talk about these things."
4. Be Specific With Your Requests
If you want your partner to do something differently, try this step-by-step process: compliment them (notice a theme here?), tell them what you'd like, give them the specifics, tell them why you'd like to do it, and ask them what might help them make that happen. For example, you might say: "I love having sex with you, but it might be even better if you went down on me beforehand. It doesn't have to last for a long time, just enough to get me warmed up. It makes sex feel better for me, and I'd be happy to do it for you too."
5. Take Breaks To Talk
If you're getting frustrated because your partner just isn't delivering what you want, suggest a cuddle break. Then, you can try again or talk about it when things are less tense. Obviously, never sulk if you're not getting what you want, because that can pressure someone into doing things they're not comfortable with or make them feel bad. You can be honest about what you want while simultaneously being patient and understanding.
Images: Andrew Zaeh for Bustle; Giphy(5)