sex communication

Let’s Talk About Sex! 4 Things to Improve Sex Communication

Good sex is a multi-sensory experience that brings connection, closeness, pleasure and intimacy between two or more consenting people. When you think about sex, the physical act is usually what comes to mind. Sex that is portrayed in movies, on television or in porn suggests that you intuitively know how to turn your partners on. However, in reality, if you don’t talk about it, you won’t know. Sex can be fraught with a range of emotions, complicated histories, and assumptions.

Additionally engaging in the physical act is only part of what makes for good sex. Good sex communication is essential in order for it to be satisfying, healthy, and safe. Talking about sex helps you and your partner(s) connect and learn about each other. Because of this, below you will find four things to consider that will improve your sexual communication and make your sex even better!

1. Say Yes to what you want and No to what you don’t

Express your sexual desires and interests so that your partner(s) know how to please you. Tell them what you like and what you don’t. What kinds of sexual activities do you enjoy? Are you willing to try that you haven’t done?  What are you not willing to do? (An excellent resource is the book Mating in Captivity by Esther Perel.)

2. Non-verbal sex communication

Non-verbal communication is an important part of any sexual experience. However, you don’t want to only rely on non-verbal communication during sex. Non-verbal communication can be easily misinterpreted.  Awareness of your partner’s response to your touch is an example of non-verbal sexual communication. Other ways you can communicate during sex can include cuing in to receptive body movements, breathing, moans, or sighs. Attention to non-verbal cues can keep you attuned to your partner during sex.

3. Talk with partners about sex to increase sexual safety and informed decision-making

Sex that is portrayed in the media and online often don’t include conversations about health status and sexual history. Talking openly about sex and desire can sometimes be an unfamiliar or difficult experience. You may feel uncomfortable, self-conscious, or vulnerable, especially if you are sharing sexual trauma or health status.  Questions to ask your partners might include: What kind of touch do you like? Are there parts of your body where you don’t want to be touched?  What kind of barriers do you use? Are there sexual activities you are willing to enjoy without barriers? Are you using birth control?  Because our relationship to sex is complex and multi-faceted, it’s okay to feel some nervousness or hesitation. Move at your own pace.  Take the time to talk openly about sex to increase safety and comfort. Read Am I Emotionally Connected to My Partner?

4. Increase comfort and intimacy

Healthy sexual communication will allow you and your partners to feel more comfortable pleasing each other. As a result, you may feel closer and better able to connect. When you feel safe and connected, you will develop a deeper understanding of each other’s desires and strengthen your relationships.  You will learn and understand the kind of sexual relationships you want to have with one another. Read Spice It Up! Five Tips for Keeping the Passion in Your Relationship.

Remember that sex communication is a skill that requires practice and feedback.  Furthermore you may initially find your style of communication awkward and clunky. Because of this remember to ask questions; get feedback; learn about each other’s histories and desires and cue into non-verbal communication. In addition to better communication, practice will increase your skills and will ease future sex communication, sexual satisfaction, health, and connection.

What are other ways you’ve found that communication can improve your sex life?

Glenn Zermeno, LCSW - NYC Therapist

Glenn Zermeno, LCSW - NYC Therapist

Psychotherapist at myTherapyNYC
Offers individual and couples counseling in NYC. Specializes in LGBTQ, HIV/AIDS, relationships Issues, and depression.
Glenn Zermeno, LCSW - NYC Therapist
3 replies
  1. Cate
    Cate says:

    Excellent post! These are such important things to keep in mind when it comes to communication with sexual partners. So many helpful resources too. Thanks Glenn.

  2. Omar
    Omar says:

    Great post! It’s so important to have conversations around sex that are open, honest, and include things like boundaries and safety!

  3. Zach
    Zach says:

    Such a great post, Glenn! Far too often people don’t know how to get “unstuck” when they are in a disappointing sexual relationship. I really love the way you break down this problem so that it can dealt with in a more manageable way.


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