As a sex therapist, I have the honor of hearing what’s really happening in many people’s private sex lives. I love it! And I can tell you honestly, that especially for partners who have been together for several years, desire and sexual frequency often get really complicated!

  • One of you wants more sex than the other.
  • One of you feels obligated.
  • One of you doesn’t feel like you can say what you really need or want.

You want sex to just be easy, organic and natural. But instead, sex becomes a hot-spot , and not in a good way!

I’ve been married twice: the first time, not so good. My second (and current) marriage is phenomenal! In my first marriage, the frequency of sex slowed down to a trickle. The saddest part: we never talked about it. Neither of us was fulfilled or happy.

I remember hearing my friends talk about sex in their relationships, and being reallllly quiet.

After that marriage ended, I swore I would never again have sex be something that was hidden in the shadows. I committed to engaging upfront, and honestly, about needs, desires, likes and dislikes with all partners!

Learning to do this was a journey, with a lot of trial and error. It took awhile and a lot of work and therapy, but now, Ari and I talk about sex all.the.time. Discussing “sex” is a standing agenda item in our weekly meeting! It’s a source of deep and vulnerable connection for both of us.

And it means that we have to be really honest with each other, and sometimes say the hard truths. It’s okay, because we’ve built a foundation and a skillset to be able to do this.

With the amount of stigma, shame, and judgement around sex in the outside world, it’s no surprise that this effects the way we talk about and do sex in relationship. Hangups, defenses, unhealthy thought patterns, and all kinds of un-sexy things find their way into our beds. Time for spring cleaning! And what a better way to liven up our sex than to stretch our tongue muscles and talk about it.

The importance of talking about sex in relationship

We are entering into our third year of this pandemic, with a whole lot of feelings about, well, everything. Maybe you’ve been spending way too much time with your partner and are having trouble desiring them as the delicious human they are. You may be feeling disconnected during sex, it might feel boring or formulaic, or maybe you and your partner are low-sex or no-sex. Maybe you really need some space before you can feel more available for MORE connection. Perhaps you are dating a new partner and want to brush up on your sex-talk skills as you build your connection.

The first thing to do is breathe, and know that all of these seasons of experience are normal. Personal needs, relationship needs, and sexual needs all fluctuate over the course of a relationship and throughout our lives. Learning how to talk about them can help air out concerns and create shared goals. 

What do you want to say?

What do you want to talk about? Write it down- reflect- what do you like, what do you not like, areas for improvement or creative ideas. Each partner can write and you can share– helps to have some direction in the conversation.

Post-Sex talk can be a sweet way to bond in the bliss.

When is a good time for me to bring it up?

For best results, start the conversation at a neutral time when the stakes are low and when most of your basic needs have been met. Choose a time when you and your partner are relaxed but not tired, and free of big time constraints or places to be. Not before sex, not after a fight, not when one of you is feeling frustrated or emotional. Find a neutral time when you are fed, rested, and not overworked to avoid irritability. Bringing it up in a neutral location like a road trip or a walk in the park can take the pressure for performance out of the equation. It’s easiest to talk about sex when the only expectations are to share, to listen, and to be heard.

It’s also important to note that post-sex talk (right afterward) can be a sweet way to bond in the bliss. This intimate time together can be a good opportunity for sharing what worked, what you enjoyed, what didn’t work, how your body feels, etc.

How can I start the conversation?

With curiosity, positivity, and openness. Start by asking a question from a place of curiosity—
I’m curious how you’ve been feeling about our sex life, and if there’s anything you feel like you’re missing or anything else you want to try?”

It’s important to bring positivity to this conversation especially when discussing areas of potential improvement. A compliment sandwich can be a helpful approach: compliment + ask + compliment. For example, “I love the way your touch feels. I’d love it if you touched me more. Your confidence is sexy.”

If visual guidance feels helpful, try this Yes No Maybe chart. Print out one copy for each partner and one for a master list. Complete the master list together showing all the areas of shared yeses and maybes. Make some time to talk about the maybes and start by trying out all the fun things in the YES column.

What skills can I bring to the conversation?

Try using a practice called reflecting: simply repeat back what the other person just said to make sure you’ve understood them, and invite them to continue. No questions, no comments, no sharing your feelings about it. Just active listening. When one partner feels complete, the other partner takes a turn.

Questions to ask yourself

  • What do I love about sex?
  • What do I fear about sex?
  • What do I desire about sex?

Suggested Practice

Active Listening Practice

Here’s a variation on the above reflection questions to use as an active listening practice for you and your partner. For 2 minutes per person, take turns asking the following questions:

  • What do you love?
  • What do you fear?
  • What do you desire?

When it’s your turn to actively listen, reply only by saying, “Thank you. What else do you love/fear/desire?”

P.S. If you know that you and your partner could benefit from deep, wrap-around support to create lasting love, fill out this form to let me know a little more about what’s going on, and I’ll be in touch to set up a time to talk.

Dr Pavini Moray

I am an entrepreneur, somatic sex educator, and activist on a mission to help others get free in their bodies. I founded Wellcelium with the goal of bringing world-class teachers of sexuality, embodiment and intimacy together, to create a world that is relationally and erotically well. Read more.