How to Talk About Sex

About 35 years ago we had what was called the “sexual revolution.” It wasn’t as if people weren’t having sex before then. People have always had sex. What the sexual revolution was supposed to do was change our attitudes about sex. Instead of fumbling in the dark, we could bring sex out into the light, so we could learn to do it right.

This was all happening when sex became a subject of scientific research. One of the things that researchers discovered was that many people had a very hard time talking about sex, so they didn’t do that very much.

Therapists realized that when people did talk about sex, things got hotter and better. Everyone agreed: sex was good to talk about and we therapists tried to teach people how to do it.

Fast-forward to 2011. Most people are much more comfortable with the subject of sex. Obviously, for good or ill, sex sells, so it is everywhere. Amazingly, though, most people still have a hard time speaking about it with their sexual partners.

In my therapy practice, I find it amazing that people are willing to do all kinds of kinky things, but won’t say the simplest words.

The reason that most people won’t talk about sex can be summed up in one word: shame. We are afraid that if we start to talk about sex, something might be revealed about us that we don’t want our partners to know.

Sure, we may simply be embarrassed because we have been taught that sex is something you don’t talk about. But worse than that, we fear that our partners will find out we are not as sophisticated, experienced, and confident as we try to portray.

Whatever it is that we would want to say, we imagine that when our partner finds out who we really are, they will have a reaction that we won’t be able to live through. (“You disgust me! I’m never talking to you again for as long as I live!” or some such.) So what do we do? We avoid the conversation.

It is true that you can’t predict how someone else will respond to anything we do. Intimacy – that is, true intimacy – the kind where you reveal yourself fully to another – is risky. Life is risky.

Most of the time, however, when we take the chance and open up, we are surprised to discover that we get a far better response than we fear.

Once the people I work with get up the gumption to try and speak, their next question is, “how do I talk about sex?”

Here is one way to have a conversation about sex.

Go out with your partner for a romantic dinner. After you order your meal and the appetizers have been served, look your partner in the eyes, and say in your warmest voice, “Let’s talk about sex, ok?”

I guarantee that this will already be a turn on. Your partner will probably say, “sure!”

Then say, “I’d like for us to be able to talk about sex. I’d like for you to be able to tell me what gives you pleasure and I’d like to give you that pleasure. I’d like to tell you what gives me pleasure and I hope that you’d be willing to do those things. Our sex is already great, and I have a feeling that if we talk about sex it can even be more mind-blowing. I’d like to have a lot of sex with you for a long time, and if we learn how to talk about it, I know it can be great forever.”

If your partner doesn’t buy that, then you’ve got some problems that really makes it clear why you’ve got to talk about sex!

“Talk is the ultimate aphrodisiac.”

Most likely, your partner will say, “That sounds great! Let’s do it!”

Then put your hand on your partners hand, and move a little closer. Now say, “I’d also like for us to be able to tell each other our insecurities and fears. I want us to be able to open up to each other. I want you to know that the thing about you that excites me more than anything else is when you are vulnerable with me. You can tell me anything, and I promise not to judge  or be unkind. In fact, I always love you more when you show me who you really are.”

You may want to wait for dessert to get to this part, because you’ll probably be so hot for each other after you say this that you will immediately want to jump in the sack.

Then, when you are in bed, you can ask, “Tell me, what turns you on? What would you like me to do? You can tell me while we are making love what feels good to you, and what doesn’t.”

See what happens when you do that.

Now comes the big, hard one to say. “Can I tell you what I love that you do? Can I tell you what I’ve always fantasized about doing?”

You see, despite our fears, talking about sex, is, well, sexy.

Give it a try. You may discover that once you open up, talk is the greatest aphrodisiac.

Thoughts? Comment below.

Dr. Glenn Berger is a psychotherapist, relationship counselor, business and artist’s coach, and young person’s mentor. He sees patients in New York City, in Mt. Kisco, NY, and around the world by Skype.

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