Communication is the essence of good sex. Without clear and open communication between partners, desires are overlooked, intimacy is lacking, and overall satisfaction is lowered. But it’s easier said than done. Most of us have hang ups or lack certain skills to communicate the way we would like with our partners. Review these ideas and tips to help you identify, and hopefully overcome, some of your communication hiccups.
What Are You Saying?
Take some time to reflect on what the actual message is that you want to communicate. Though some things that need to be said are of the moment, most communication can be thought through beforehand. Do you want to share a desire or fantasy with your partner? Do you want to communicate your boundaries to a new lover? Creating a list can be handy.
Modes of Communication
Does the idea of a heated phone call make you nauseous? Can texting give you anxiety? Are you unable to articulate your feelings during face to face conversation? It’s ok! A lot of people have a form of communicating they don’t enjoy based on past experiences. The key is to identify what modes of communication don’t work for you and expand on the ones that do. It’s ok to ask your partner to change the way you communicate by switching texting to a phone call or a phone call to a coffee date. Preparing for your conversation will also make you feel more at ease with what you have to say. Make yourself some notes or write down your thoughts before hand if you often feel like you miss your point in conversation.
Have you ever caught yourself wording the next thing you’re going to say in your head while someone else is talking? This is the exact opposite of active listening. Sometimes we get so involved in our heads with our own dialogue, that the vital part of actively listening gets lost. There are two sides to active listening - absorbing what your partner has to say and making your partner feel heard. Try to focus on what they say turning off your own dialogue and understand what they are trying to communicate. Ask questions if you don’t understand. Keep eye contact and visual and verbally acknowledge what they are saying.
It is ok to take a much needed time out after a conversation. Whether the conversation got heated or you simply learned something new about your partner, take some time to meditate on their words. How does this make you feel? Do you have a response? Maybe you need to actively research something on our own to get a deeper understanding. Maybe you need to run the conversation past a friend to get a grounding opinion. Maybe you need to journal your thoughts. All of these are valid reactions and necessary to process conversation.
Keeping Communication Easy
Like anything in life, the more you practice good communication, the easier it will become. This not only pertains to conversations between lovers, but also between co-workers, friends, and family. Even in situations where you might feel you are not being heard, knowing that you have communicated effectively in the past will help you stand your ground. Never surrender your feelings and emotions on a subject to pacify another. Your active consent is vital in feeling secure and safe. If you are placed in an uncomfortable position where you feel you can’t explain yourself, walking away is a valid form of communicating.
If you are still finding certain words and dialogues hard to express, create words between your partners and yourself that are easier to use. An example of this would be naming your genitals to avoid using certain words that can cause dysmorphia in transitioning bodies. Another would be re-naming your sex toys if using certain words kills the mood for you. Taking time outs during play when necessary also gives you time and space to communicate if something isn’t working for you.
Communication can be a tricky thing to navigate, but with some preparation, some adaptation, and some practice, effectively communicating your desires, dislikes, fantasies and fears with your partners or lovers will become easier over time.