Sexual enjoyment and satisfaction are an important part of keeping a romantic relationship healthy and thriving. It’s also one of the hardest things to TALK about. We get flushed and squeamish just trying to figure out how to broach the topic. As a result often we just keep silent, hoping our partners can read our minds and manage to achieve satisfying our most private and intimate desires. Unfortunately, that plan is rarely successful. More than likely, if you aren’t talking about sex with your partner, you also aren’t enjoying it to the extent that you could be.
I often encourage the couples I work with to learn how to comfortably and confidently negotiate with their partner what their sex life will look like in order to optimize their mutual satisfaction. Sometimes that means talking about the frequency of sex. Sometimes that means talking about the type of sex you or your partner would most enjoy. Sometimes that means talking about the setting or the foreplay or even one’s past traumas around sexuality. The most common question I receive when I make this suggestion is, “How should I bring this up? It never seems like the right time or the right mood to initiate this conversation.” I completely understand the hesitation. We are not socialized to talk about sex with any confidence or eloquence. It can swing from sterile to crude in tone but rarely does the conversation settle into a space that is casual and comfortable.
I was recently introduced to an activity that can help to not only break the ice around this taboo topic, but can also help to provide a guideline for the language we use when discussing such sensitive material. Language is so important in establishing a mutual zone of comfort in these already uncomfortable conversations! This activity is meant to be both playful and informative. It encourages you to first assess your own preferences and then to learn the preferences of your partner.
- Both you and your partner make a chart with 4 columns.
- In the first column, you write the names of as many body parts as you can imagine may be associated with sexuality. Feel free to list the obvious, but don’t rule out the more creative and less obvious body parts too! Try to use the medical term for these body parts in this column.
- In the second column, write the term you would prefer to have used when you are TALKING about this body part with you partner.
- In the third column, write the term you would prefer you partner use to refer to this body part while you are in the midst of ENGAGING in sexual act.
- In the fourth column, write a term that you NEVER want to be used in any context to refer to this body part.
- For example: Column1: “butt” Column2: “backside” Column3: “bum” Column4: “behind”
- Then (here’s where it gets interesting!) share your list and your language preferences with your partner. Reserve judgment of yourself AND your partner- nothing is too prudish, nothing is too crude. Allow yourself to laugh and get embarrassed, but commit to saying all the words out loud!