How to Talk About Sex. I Mean REALLY Talk About Sex

Margie Nichols, Ph.D.by Margie Nichols, Ph.D.    

 I’m frustrated by hearing sex experts tell people to ‘communicate better’ about sex.  I’m impatient with advice to ‘tell your partner what you want.’  For one thing, many people don’t know what they want.  Even those who can be pretty specific tend to know only what they want OUT OF THE THINGS THEY HAVE ALREADY TRIED.   And the problem is, most people haven’t tried that much, and don’t have a good sexual imagination.
          Specific sex conversations –  intimate discussions of sexual acts – are particularly helpful for couples stuck in a rut.  You may have done just fine for a while doing the same four things -touch skin, touch genitals, a little oral sex, put it in.   But now you’re bored, you want to mix it up to bring back some of the excitement, but you don’t know how.  You’d like to be adventurous – but you don’t know where to start.   If any of this sounds familiar, this article has your name on it.
      A few caveats.  If your relationship in general is a train wreck, you probably want to sort that out before you worry about sexual enhancement.  If you can’t talk about sex without personalizing it, learn some objectivity first.  If you believe that fantasizing about people other than your partner is betrayal, that all ‘sex’ involves penetration, or that every encounter must end in mutual orgasm, disabuse yourself of those myths. (Read one of my blogs on over-romanticizing sex)
      I. The Ground Rules
       Have this discussion when you are both in a good mood, won’t be disturbed, and have a long time.  A ‘Date Night’ is ideal, especially because if this discussion is done right you might feel like ‘doing it’ immediately after.  Set the stage – nice music, lighting, whatever you need for both of you to be comfortable.
    Agree ahead of time on some rules.  You can’t laugh, ridicule, or show disgust for anything your partner says.  You should try to maintain a ‘game’ attitude of genuine curiosity about your partner’s sexual desires, and a willingness to try new things even if you are unsure about them.  If something your mate likes is a total turn-off, borrow a term used in the BDSM community.  Instead of expressing judgment, you can just say, ‘That squicks me,’ meaning – it’s fine that you like it, but it’s definitely not my cup of tea. If you need to critique your partner’s sexual technique, do it  gently – better to say, ‘I prefer when you……’ than to blurt out ‘I hate it when you…..’
    II. The Chart
     The chart below is a revision of a form we give new sex therapy clients at IPG.  Each of you should have a copy of it, and you should fill it out together.  If you are not sure what something is, look it up on one of hundreds of sex information sites, or even YouTube channels like KinkAcademy.  Exploring and learning about new sex acts is half the point of this exercise.    When you fill out the chart, the first column is for things you’ve already done and the second for things you haven’t.  If it’s a sex act you’ve done, you rate how much you like it. 1= means it’s mildly pleasurable, 10= you live for this act.   Give two ratings, one for ‘getting’ the sex act, the other for ‘giving.’   If it’s a sex act you haven’t experienced, you rate your interest in trying it out, ranging from 1= I’ll try it if it’s important to you to 10= this is my deepest, most treasured fantasy.  As before, rate ‘getting’ and ‘giving.’  If the sex act is beyond your limits- you can’t bring yourself to try it no matter how much your partner wants to –  put an ‘X’ next to it to indicate that it squicks you.
    BTW – this list is partial, a work in progress. Use it to get started, and then add to it.  Better yet – email suggestions to add to the list to mnichols@ipgcounseling.com.
     And make sure you have fun!
                      SEXUAL ACT:
        Check ‘x’ only if this squicks you, otherwise fill out one of the other columns
PLEASE CAN WE DO IT?
1=like a little
10=my favorite
Getting/ Giving
I’M GAME TO TRY
1=if it’s important to you
10=REALLY curious
Getting/Giving
Kissing – deep mouth kissing; kissing neck, face; kissing body
Touching . stroking, or massaging sensually: breasts/chest; butt; body excluding genitals
Touching, stroking or massaging or massaging genitals
Nipple play – pinching, twisting, stimulating nipples and breasts or rough genital play – doing same to vulva, clit, penis, testicles
Biting or scratching neck, body
Oral sex
Vaginal penetration (if applicable)- finger? Dildo? Penis?
Being anally stimulated – by fingers or mouth
Anally stimulating partner with fingers or mouth
Anal penetration- finger? Dildo? Penis?
Vibrator use- big, little, external only, internal?
Dominant/submissive play – giving orders, running the show, being ordered, letting your partner run the show
‘Dirty talk’ (what do you like to say or hear?)
Humiliation
Role playing – which roles? And which do you want to play?
Dressing up in erotic or ‘special’ clothing – leather, latex, lingerie, corsets?
Blindfolds
Spanking
Bondage – ropes, cuffs, scarves, handcuffs?
Fire and ice – ice cubes, hot wax?
Flogging or hitting (heavier than spanking)
Being forced to wear clothes of ‘opposite’ gender
Three ways – bringing in a third person
Watching/being watched while one person self-stimulates
Watching visual pornography
Reading or telling erotic stories to each other
Public sex – sexual activity outdoors, in a car, in a public place, in a room in someone else’s house, in a room with others nearby

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