Talking to Partners About Sex

There is no secret formula to enhancing communication. However, understanding one’s own sexual needs and those of your partner, and feeling comfortable enough to share and convey these needs is an important skill. It is natural to feel nervous starting a discussion, especially for the first time. The following are suggestions that can help:

  1. Give yourself permission to enjoy sexual pleasure.
  2. Feel positive enough about yourself to ask questions and make specific requests.
  3. Develop your own communication system with your partner (words that are comfortable, signals, etc.).
  4. Take the initiative through verbal and nonverbal communication:
    • Verbally, use I-statements which are direct i.e. ‘I like it when _______ because it makes me feel ____________.”
    • Nonverbally, an individual can show a partner what is desired by moving the partner’s hand in an area that is pleasurable or by making positive sounds of encouragement.
  5. Learn through experience, be patient, and realize that sexual communication is an ongoing learning process.
  6. Be spontaneous and creative to keep the excitement in sexual pleasure.
  7. Realize that sexual communication pertains to more than just the physical aspects of sexuality; communication starts the moment you interact with your partner.
  8. Make a list of things you can do please each other without sexual intercourse.
  9. Be assertive in expressing your desire to try new things.
  10. Talk about how you are feeling—before, during and after physically pleasing each other.
  11. Be open, honest, and comfortable enough with your partner to ask or do anything regarding your sexual pleasure as long as you both consent.
  12. Be willing to compromise if you and your partner are not at the same level of sexual energy.
  13. Remember to treat each other with respect.
  14. Enjoy your sexuality!

Adapted from Teaching Sexual Partners to Talk by Warren L. McNab