Sexual communication is an essential part of getting the sex you want, but no one ever taught us how to talk about sex, let alone about what we like and want. Instead we got messages like, “all guys like the same thing,” “he knows what women want,” and “she’s hard to please.”. What the heck are any of us supposed to do with that!? Let’s redact that from the record and start over. But first, some comments on the above messages:
Establishing sexual communication is the foundation of good sexual experiences and most people will find it refreshing to share their preferences and boundaries. Sexual communication is important at all points in our lives, but especially if we’ve experienced changes in our bodies, have new partners, or want to try something different with a long time partner. It can feel awkward at first if you aren’t used to it, but just like anything with practice and positive outcomes, it can become second nature.
Tip #1 - Discuss the No’s, No Thank You’s, Boundaries, Limits, and Nuances
While reasons for setting sexual limits widely vary, it is not uncommon for individuals to set sexual limits. Sexual limit setting is a strategy for healthy sexual engagement over a human's lifespan. It's okay for sexual limits to change over time, with the same partner or different partners. What an individual is craving one day, may not be what they desire another day.
Some ways to phrase boundaries are:
"I don't want to take my underwear off."
"Don't put your fingers in my vagina, I don't like that."
"I don't want to have sex."
"I want to cuddle and kiss, but not have sex."
"Any area I should avoid on you?"
“I like having my hands tied, but I don’t like having my feet tied. I want to feel like I can get up and walk away”
When you state boundaries, they don’t have to come with a reason attached to them. If you partner asks why you don't want to do a certain sexual act, you don’t need to justify or explain a preference.
Some ways to respond are:
"It is not what I am in to."
"Because I don't want to."
"It doesn't feel good for me."
"I don't want to do that with you."
“My boobs hurt from breastfeeding”
What to do if their boundary is not being respected or taken seriously:
Your partner may try to say they know what they are doing or that they know a good technique. Try the suggested technique only if you’re interested and feel your partner has your best interest in their suggestion. Otherwise, have the confidence to decline. Remember, if you feel you’re repeatedly not being heard, it’s ok to decline sexual activity with that individual.
Tip #2 - Discuss the Yes’
Everyone is different and our bodies have varying preferences - learning that and having those preferences met is what makes sex so wonderful. Share the ways and places you want to be touched and kissed in order to get the sex that’s satisfying to you.
Some ways to phrase preferences are:
"I usually orgasm from clitoral stimulation. By rubbing your fingers side to side over my clitoris, I’ve got a high chance of orgasming."
"I really like having my ear kissed."
"Can you focus on __ area?"
"What do you like?"
"I like external anal touch."
What to do if you don't know what you like?
If you’re unsure what your preferences are, masturbation is a great way for you to learn. Also, you can share with a partner that you're interested in exploring your body and would like their help to explore your preferences. Remember to verbally communicate what feels good, what you want to try, and what you don't like during the sexual encounter.
Tip #3 - Integrate Sexual Communication into Daily Routine
Flirtation: Flirtation can be a fun way to make your sexual preferences known.
Ex: "Wanna play with each other's fun parts?"
Texting: Texting can be a fun way to share your preferences and barriers with a partner. It can open up a conversation regarding what you like and what your partner likes.
Ex: "Tell me what you like."
When planning on meeting up for a hook up it's helpful to establish desires and boundaries upfront. This can help alleviate feelings of anxiety in the moment.
Ex: "I’ll come over tonight, but just to be clear on expectations, I don't want to have penetrative sex tonight." or “I think I’m into the idea of having sex tonight, but let’s start with a back rub and see where that goes.”
During sex, preferences and boundaries are able to be expanded or retracted at any point. It's important to understand that you're in control of these changes and it's okay to verbalize them.
Ex: "Hey, can you focus on my clitoris and nipples? It feels really good what you're doing to them. I don't think I am in to the anal play right now."
Use the prompts below to ease sexual communication in the future!
My boundaries include:
My preferences include:
Create a personal coaching statement to empower yourself to engage in sexual communication:
If this or any other part of these suggestions feel like they’d be hard to implement, perhaps you’d be interested in sexual wellness counseling to work through these suggestions specific & make a plan that feels authentic to you! Send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) for a 15 minute consultation to chat more about sexual wellness counseling.