02 Apr Communication Skills for Intimate Relationships
A recent study reinforces what I think is one of the most vital aspects of a good sexual experience—talking to our partners about sexual matters makes for a better relationship.
More than 9 of 10 participants in the study of 277 younger women (18 to 45 years old) reported experiencing multiple sexual problems. About 70 percent of these women said they had talked to their current romantic partner about these problems.
The researchers found that women who disclosed their sexual problems reported fewer depressive symptoms, better sexual functioning, and greater relationship satisfaction compared to the women who kept it a secret from their partner. Source
Researchers focused on sexual problems and what happened when women shared their issues or concerns with a partner. I see the results as relevant whether there are challenges in a sexual relationship or not–though at one time or another we all experience challenges. These results speak to my belief that communication with partners expands possibilities. In speaking up we take charge of our sexual experience and we create the environment for sharing, learning, and mutual pleasuring.
Communication is vital at every step in building intimacy. From the initial conversation between two new lovers about sexually transmitted infections and the delicious talk about when and where and how, to the established patterns of talking that occur in relationships–communication skills are vital in intimate relationships.
We know that the majority of women do not have an orgasm from intercourse alone and that many women don’t climax at all. I believe that when women initiate conversations with male partners and talk about what they like, pleasure would increase. We often assume that men are mind readers—falsely assuming that because men are sexually experienced they will know what to do. I’m guilty of not always speaking up about my specific needs. The point is that we have to take responsibility for our own pleasure. Women weren’t taught that and we’re not accustomed to the idea behind that statement.
How do we take responsibility for our own pleasure?
We learn, we explore and then we inform.
We explore our own bodies to learn where we like to be touched, how and when. Slow or fast? Touch me here, but not there. Steady rhythm or variety? Soft or slow?
We practice. All alone. We identify what works for us. And then we talk with our partners about what we discovered. It can be fun and exciting and yes, it’s often a bit scary if talking about sex isn’t your norm.
This isn’t just something that we do in the beginning of a new relationship, it is an ongoing process. As our bodies change so does our desire and our preferences.
There is a chapter in my book, Inviting Desire, a guide for women who want to enhance their sex life, dedicated to this—Learning to Ask For What You Want. In that chapter, I share ideas and offer specifics on how you can start communicating about sexual pleasure with your partner. I think communication is an important tool, which can help you create more pleasurable sex and stronger relationships. And, I realize that learning to speak about sexual pleasure and our desires is challenging for many of us.
I want you to feel the power in using your voice, in speaking up for what you need, not just in intimate relationships but in other arenas.
Learning to communicate with a partner will strengthen your relationship. When you share likes and dislikes you’re taking the time and effort to create a better sexual experience. You are telling a partner that you care—you care about the experience, you care about the sex, and you care about their experience as well. And I can guarantee you that those heady benefits make it worth figuring out how to say what you want and need to say.