So, Your Sex Life Has Gotten A Bit Shit? Here’s How To Talk To Your Partner About It
In this day and age, hearing words like “orgasm” and “butt plug” thrown across a cheap and cheerful inner-city restaurant comes as no surprise – if anything, our ears prick up to see if there’s any tips and tricks we can score on the house.
Embracing our inner sexual prowess at a morning coffee talking about multiple sexual partners or cheating doesn’t feel out of place, crude or embarrassing. It actually feels liberating and empowering to have these conversations out in the open, versus solely to our therapist – or worse, not at all.
So, we have to ask ourselves, why are we now so confident discussing sex and intimacy with our platonic partners, yet not with our romantic ones? Maybe when we’re talking to our friends, we don’t need to be as vulnerable, and we certainly aren’t hearing “it takes two to tango” as a response to valid concerns about our sex life.
So, your sex life has gotten a bit shit? We might have some pointers that will help you flip intimacy on its head.
The big O…my God, I can’t cum
When we think about sex, having a phenomenal orgasm is kind of like summiting Mt. Everest – not totally convinced we could get there, but by God are we happy we did. However, when orgasms are the sole goal of a sexual experience, it can actually hinder your ability to climax.
We know that when we place too much pressure on ourselves, it creates stress and anxiety, which can be the ultimate blocker of reaching an orgasm. If we’re defining sex by the outcome of an orgasm, we’re really limiting the different types of arousal and experiences we can have. And, if you’re defining sex by reaching the Big O, you’re in turn probably going to have less sex, and less enjoyable sex too.
In saying that, we’d all love to summit Mt. Everest, if not reach base camp at the very least. If your partner isn’t helping you get there, establishing what you and your partner like and enjoy is super important.
Start by carving out some time and using this script to get the chat started. “I’d love to have a conversation with you about what gets you going, and what gets you off so we can both make sure we’re being fully satisfied. I want us to be able to push each other’s pleasure buttons, and I’m super keen to try them out the next time we’re in bed.”
By establishing a conversation that requires input from both parties, it’s less about feedback, and more about compassionate communication. It doesn’t need to be a dry conversation rooted in biology and science – it can actually be really sexy! Sometimes talking about what turns you on can be the biggest turn on of all, and makes for a constructive foreplay session before the main act.
In saying that, if you’re experiencing physical sexual issues such as erectile dysfunction or pain during intercourse, it’s important to know that it’s not your fault and often the result of an underlying medical problem. It’s important to seek help from specialists such as GPs, psychologists, and sex therapists to address the root of the issue.
Foreplay could be our forté
To foreplay, or not to foreplay – that is a complicated question. Some see foreplay as the most integral part of being intimate with another person, slowly building up chemistry and energy before diving in. For others who find it hard to shut off from the stressors of life, with pending work deadlines and early starts at the office, may feel like it’s an absolute waste of precious shut-eye hours.
Whatever your flavour, foreplay plays a key role in maintaining a healthy sex life, with studies showing that the longer the foreplay stage lasts, the bigger and better the experience. It’s not just about getting aroused, but it reduces the likelihood of pain during intercourse, and creates an emotional, mental and physical closeness in the lead up to intimacy for a deeper connection.
Not feeling your partner is offering the foreplay you desire, and deserve? Try using foreplay as the main event without penetration, make it fun by asking your partner if they want to play a sexy game. Take the time for you ask for what you want, and offer constructive direction and guidance. This helps to show what you like, and when you like it.
“Right there”, “slower”, “faster”, “tease me” – the list goes on and on. Swap between being the teaser and the tease, and ask this question to make your partner weak at the knees – “How can I make this better for you?”. Through engaging in ‘in-the-moment dirty talk’, your partner will start to acknowledge the duration you like for certain acts, when you like it and how you like it.
In turn, you may even find out a few things about yourself that you didn’t initially know.
Wetter is better
Meet your new best friend: lube. Lube was once the bestie we hid at the bottom of our bed side table, now, lube proudly sits on the nightstands of many, knowing the positive implications it can have when you’re getting down and dirty. There’s nothing shameful about lubricant, and the removal of friction and minimising micro tears and abrasions is nothing to be embarrassed about.
3 in 4 people with vulvas experience pain when having penetrative sex, and to top it all off, not leaning into lube can also cause burning sensations, risk of discomfort through friction, and can lead to condoms breaking increasing the risk of STI transmission. Not ideal. So, when picking your lube, it’s important to prioritise the health of what’s in your pants. Use products that are made from natural ingredients, pH balancing and glycerine free as glycerine can cause yeast infections and stinging during anal play and sex.
That’s why we both use and recommend drip products – Aussie made, infused with Australian botanicals for a skin nourishing experience, discrete yet aesthetic labelling, all packaged with a serum pump and a lockable top, so a spill doesn’t ruin the mood. It also means you won’t swim in the stuff… unless that’s your thing.
Firm believer that wetter is better? Tell your partner/s, “I’ve found when I pleasure myself, using lube increases my pleasure tenfold. It also means the next day I’m not experiencing any chafing or irritation which is a huge bonus. I’d love to try it with you the next time we have sex – I think it could be really fun.”
A great way to start the conversation is by framing the introduction of lube as something you’ve tried by yourself, and want to introduce your special someone to its benefits. There’s no shame in the lube game, and there really aren’t any valid reasons why we shouldn’t be introducing it into our intimate moments – be that with ourselves or others.
Copping it on the chin, with grace
Giving, or receiving, feedback doesn’t come easily to everyone. For a lot of people, it can be a really confronting and an uncomfortable experience. No one wants to hear that their partner is faking it, or hear that what you’ve been doing with your partner hasn’t hit the spot. It’s uncomfortable for our ego, and often comes with feeling guilt or shame.
But, growing and learning, particularly with others, is so integral to the development of any intimate relationship. In staying that, everyone is so different – what people like and how they respond to stimuli will always be different. What a previous partner may have liked, won’t always translate to someone else.
As we’ve uncovered, discussing sex can be more intimate than the act itself, and it’s important to listen and share openly, and honestly.
Giving feedback on a not-so-fab experience? Use this script: “Can we make some time to talk about [our last intimate experience]? Is there something going on that you would like the floor to talk to me about? I felt like you were less connected to me and not as into it like you usually are, and just wanted to make sure we resolve anything that’s keeping you and me from being as present and connected as we can be next time.”
Receiving feedback? Here’s what to say:“I really appreciate the courage it took to share that with me – I know it can’t be easy for you. I’m really glad you brought this to my attention and it’s definitely something we can discuss more, take action on, and continue to be open and honest about.”
Receiving feedback in a positive manner can create trust, however, it’s not about alleviating your partner’s concerns at the sacrifice of your own feelings and boundaries. It’s about creating an environment of open and honest communication away from defensiveness – compromise in these environments can be key.
We need to remember that most people feel their most vulnerable when naked, and expressing desire and taking feedback in these tender times can be a difficult thing to hear or feel. As one of our shared favourites Brene Browns says, “radical kindness is key”.
Through establishing a healthy dialogue that isn’t rooted in judgement or penalty will only be beneficial for starting and resolving issues with your sexual partner – both in and out of the bedroom.
It all starts at home
For those of us in serious relationships (or ongoing situationships for that matter), nothing is more unsexy than thinking about the last time your partner cleaned the bathroom, or unstacked the dishwasher. But, oftentimes, it’s domestic chores that often influence a divide in the bedroom. Studies have shown that in homes where there is an unequal division of household labour, one partner – particularly vulva owners – have lower sexual desire, often tied to feeling under-appreciated and overwhelmed.
If this is the case with a live-in partner, or someone who you spend a lot of time with indoors, try saying this: “I want to thank you for everything that you do in our relationship and our household. I want you to know I see you and value your contribution. Let’s make time on a regular basis to talk about how we can divide the workload to make it more equitable.”
If it isn’t household chores that are ruining the vibe, we can also look to intimate partners having mismatched libidos. Between the stresses of work, family and a busy social life, this comes at no surprise.
This is where an unpopular solution is needed: Schedule. It. In.
Scheduling isn’t as unsexy as it sounds. Think back to when you first started dating, and how excited you were for that first sexual encounter. Think about the anticipation and the build up, and how it was something you looked forward to. Just like a date!
Maybe you could send sexy messages or pics throughout the day, or buy new underwear and toys – whatever makes you feel confident, and sexy. By changing the way you think about sex, you can make the conscious choice to see it as a positive way to bring you closer together.
When it comes to increasing your sex drive and connection to your partner (if that’s the goal) isn’t as simple as popping a pill or snacking on chocolate (unfortunately). It starts with the relationship, both with yourself, and whoever you’re with.
Teamwork makes the dream work
Having great sex isn’t the be all and end all, but it’s important to acknowledge that sometimes, it definitely can feel that way. Ignoring issues and not resolving conflict, stonewalling and shutting down without repairing your bond as a team has direct implications on our libido.
Ensure you’re making time, not just in the bedroom, but throughout all aspects of your partnership – be it serious, or not. Leaning on each other is a great way to improve your sex life, and your holistic health as a whole. You could frame it as: “I’d really like to constructively talk about it all to make sure it doesn’t fester, or keep happening, and affect other areas of our relationship.”
We’ve been sold this incredible idea from Hollywood and 2000s music video clips that sex is just an “immediate connection”, is naturally amazing from the get-go and lasts forever. We’d hate to be party poopers, but that’s just not the case.
Sexual growth happens over time, and it takes a solid chunk of it to feel comfortable and vulnerable with someone else. Initial sexual chemistry can truly only last so long. Making sure you have aligned expectations, and work towards mutually satisfying outcomes will increase your sexual and relationship satisfaction.
Oh, and if we didn’t mention it enough…
Communication, lube, communication, communication, and then more lube.
There’s no shame, embarrassment or angst that needs to come from being open and honest with someone that you care about and who should care about you. Whatever we have downstairs, we want to give it to live life to the fullest, right? Taking smaller steps can lead to massive leaps in the bedroom for yourself, and for others too.
Oh, and last but not least. Remember, if it’s not a “hell yes!” to get down and dirty, it’s a “hell no.”
Image credit: The O.C. + Punkee.