Mainstream sex scenes, bad porn, and subpar sex-ed have lead many of us to believe that great sex happens with no communication, and that talking about sex kills the vibe.
In reality, we need to have ongoing conversations about sex, to have good sex. Communicating our needs, desires, and concerns can be awkward and even stigmatizing; but it can also be affirming and sexy. The brain is our most important sex organ, so we do ourselves a disservice when we don’t articulate our feelings around sex. The more we voice our sexual wants and needs and hold space for our partners to do the same, the safer, the more adventurous, and the more joyful having sex can be.
No matter if you’re having sex with someone for the first or the one-hundredth time, communication should be taking place before, during, and after sex. Talking about sex may not be inherently sexy: disclosing your sexual health status, a specific kink, or telling someone that they missed your clitoris entirely during sex, can be nerve-racking, but there are a few ways to ease into it:
Write a yes/no/maybe list.
The yes/no/maybe list (also called a sex menu) is part-sexual bucket list and part-reminder of all or some of the sexual activities you’ve been yearning to try, some things you might try, and the activities that are a hard “no” for you. You and a partner can have individual lists, and also one for the two (or more) of you. Consider toys you like to use, positions you enjoy, and think about your fantasies.The list is flexible, and dynamic, so be open to your likes, dislikes, and curiosity evolving!
Talk about sex before you get naked.
It can be easier to get naked than it is to discuss sex, but how often does that result in having the kind of sex that really moves you? You can and should be vocal about likes and dislikes during sex, but save the major conversations for when you are clearheaded and clothed. Find nonsexual moments to bring up sex in a casual way, but also be adamant if something made you feel unsafe or disregarded. You can kickstart the conversation by reminiscing about a previous sexual encounter with your partner, share your daydreams about what you’d like to do with a new partner, talk about your favorite porn or erotica, talk about safer sex methods, and share what did or didn’t work for you the last time you had sex.
Aftercare is a term that comes from the BDSM community, and it refers to the emotional and physical care that comes after an intense sexual experience, but it’s a practice that can be useful for anyone who has sex. What do you need after sex in order to feel cared for/about? Do you need cuddles and conversation? Maybe you need your person to spend the night, even in a casual situation. The practice of aftercare is a way to honor that sex is a moment of shared emotional and physical vulnerability, and create safety around giving and receiving feedback and care.
Stop being so serious.
While you will definitely share some serious information when you talk about sex with a potential or current sexual partner. The conversation doesn’t always have to be serious. Sex itself can be funny AF so why not inject some humor when we talk about it? Have fun creating a yes/no/maybe list together, crack jokes during sex, listen to audio erotica or watch porn together; find ways to make communicating about sex a light and playful experience.
People aren’t telepathic, although sex would be a hell of a lot easier if they were. But alas, no one automatically knows what you’re thinking or what gets you off. You are your body’s conductor, and the more time you spend touching your own body, the more clear you become about what does and doesn’t get you going. Make masturbation a ritual, and also be intentional in contemplating and processing why certain fantasies, kinks, or past encounters turned you on. When we understand our own desires, we can better share them with our partners and create more openness and intimacy.