How do I Tell Someone What I (Really) Want in Bed
(First Published in Sassy Hong Kong)
People like having sex, but they really don’t like talking about it. As a sex educator and coach, I hear it all the time – from people young and old, across different nationalities and sexualities, and even from couples who’ve been in committed relationships for decades!
I get it. Sex is a tricky subject. Many of us (myself included!) grew up in places where sex is taboo and it’s sometimes challenging for us to think of ourselves as sexual beings who are deserving of pleasure. Add this to navigating the task of asking for what you want without hurting your partner’s feelings, and it’s a potential minefield. So we endure situations where the sex is less than stellar, just hoping and praying for the day that our partners magically read our minds, or pick up on our repeated eye-rolling to figure it out.
My view? Life is too short for bad sex.
And communication is critical to having a great sex life. By making your needs known and expressing what turns you on, you help your partner understand you better and it increases the intimacy in your relationship. This puts you in a better position for having the sex life you’ve always dreamed of.
MAKE SEX AN ONGOING CONVERSATION
So when is a good time to initiate the “sex talk” and ask for what you really want?
While there’s no need to deliver an in-depth sexual exposition on a first date, I think that if you’re having sex with someone regularly, then you should be able to ask for what you want in a positive, productive and preferably, delightfully naughty way.
It’s also important to make sex an ongoing conversation in a committed relationship. When sex is working, we generally don’t see the need to talk about it. However things change all the time in relationships that have an impact on our sex lives, so a regular check-in ensures that everyone’s needs are being met and any issues can be nipped in the bud without a build up of resentment.
KNOW WHAT YOU WANT
In order to tell your lover how you want to be pleased in the bedroom, you need to understand your body and what feels good to you. Masturbation is a great way to do this. Having some solo time will help you focus on what you want in the absence of judgment and the pressure to please someone else. Also, use this “me-time” to free your mind and fantasise, so that you can fully understand what turns you on.
When it comes to telling your lover, be really specific about what you want. Instead of just saying “less rough”, try taking their hand in yours and saying “I want you to touch me here slowly and lightly, like this”, then follow up with your very own version of sexy show and tell.
SHARE SOMETHING SEXY
If you’re still finding it tough to broach the topic directly, then sharing some sexy inspiration can be a great way to open up the conversation. It’s much easier to say, “oh I stumbled across this and was wondering what you thought” to test the waters. Once you’ve gauged your partner’s response, you can decide if you want to keep the ball rolling by sharing your innermost thoughts and fantasies.
Some of my favourite things to share are sexuality podcasts like (my own) Better in Bed or Sex with Emily, which aim to change the conversations we have about different aspects of our sexuality in an informative, honest and accessible manner.
I’m also a big fan of the XConfessions series by independent director, Erika Lust, which is a series of artistic, erotic adult films based on real sexual fantasies submitted by people on the Internet.
Recently, I’ve dipped my toes into the world of audio erotica, which offers everything from phone sex encounters to erotic audiobooks readings and role play. Aural Honey is my go-to right now just because I think the posh British accent lends itself quite nicely to dirty talk.
Sex often makes us vulnerable, so it’s really important to think about how you say what you say. Criticism hurts, offends and discourages your lover. Instead, approach the conversation with compassion and curiosity, and not frustration.
A good idea might be to ask your lover first if there’s anything you can do to improve the sexual experience for them, and show how eager you are to learn how you can please them better. Then they are more likely to take your cue to do the same.
I find the “sandwich” technique quite effective for giving feedback and asking for what you want, both inside and out of the bedroom. This approach is simply: Appreciation – Request – Encouragement.
So start off with some positive appreciation about something your partner does really well in the bedroom. Get to the heart of the matter and ask for what you want. Then end on a positive note with some encouragement to reinforce how much you enjoy your sex life together and reward their attention and support.
Try not to stuff too much “meat” into your “sandwich” because it may be hard for your partner to respond to a laundry list of requests. Instead just focus on 1 or 2 things. And make sure you use both verbal (“I love it when you do that”) and non-verbal cues (i.e. moan, scream, sigh) to constantly reward any changes that result from that conversation.
TALK YOUR WAY TO BETTER SEX
Coached the right way, your lover might be pleased to get the reinforcement and feedback, as they want to know they’re doing the right thing to satisfy you sexually. Also, talking about sex shows you are both emotionally invested in making your sex life better.
Nobody came out the womb a fantastic lover, and we’re all teachable in the ways of sex and pleasure.
One of the best ways of getting better in bed is with the guidance of a lover who is empowered enough to ask for what they really want and patient enough to get it – that means you! Or if you need extra support, you could also get a sex coach and short-cut the process.
What is your favourite way to start a conversation about the traditionally taboo topic of sex? Let me know in the comments.