Sexual intimacy is essential to many people in relationships (though certainly not all!). It’s a pleasurable experience that can also help strengthen bonds, boost joy, improve confidence and rekindle romance. But it’s not always fireworks. Throughout the lifespan of relationships, it’s normal for things to grow stagnant. Arduous schedules and emotional lows can reduce libido, causing sexual satisfaction and intimacy to suffer. So what should you do when you experience a lull in the bedroom? Communicate with your partner(s).
We get it: Telling your lover(s) you’re unsatisfied with your sex life can be scary. You don’t want to hurt their feelings, but you also deserve to have your sexual desires met. Fortunately, you can initiate this conversation in a way that’s gentle, kind and, hopefully, effective. Here are some tips for telling your partner(s) your sexual needs aren’t being met.
Be clear about what you want.
It’s not enough to say you’re not being satisfied sexually; you have to be able to share what it is you want in bed. Before even starting the conversation with your partner, be clear on what you want. It could be more time spent on foreplay, exploring new positions, acting out a sexual fantasy, introducing sex toys, bringing in a third or something else. Write it down so you remember and are prepared to articulate it.
Have an open mind.
As you’re making the sex bucket list, it’s crucial to be honest with yourself. It’s common for people to reject their sexual desires because of the messages passed down to them through religion, conservative education or their families. However, sexual wellness includes unlearning the shame tied to sexuality. Similarly, as you are being gentle and open with yourself, it’s important that you also prepare to have an open mind when speaking with your partner(s). If the conversation isn’t one-sided (and we hope it’s not!), they might disclose some of their own sexual desires that may surprise you.
Practice the conversation ahead of time.
Before you discuss your sex concerns with your partner(s), imagine how the conversation might go. Consider how you’ll start the discussion, the main points you want to make, your key asks and how your partner(s) might respond. With preparedness comes confidence, and you’ll want to feel self-assured when leading this conversation.
Schedule a time for the sex talk.
No one ever wants to feel blind-sighted, especially for a conversation as intimate as sex. That’s why it’s important to give your lover(s) a heads-up and schedule a day, time and place to talk with them. Telling your partner(s) ahead of time that you want to discuss your sex life can also help them prepare for the conversation. You’ll give them time to get into a receptive headspace and allow them to reflect on their own sexual wants.
Language is everything.
For the conversation to run smoothly and actually be effective, be aware of your language (both verbal and non-verbal). Consider using “I statements” to ensure you are taking ownership of how you’re feeling about your sex life and relationship. You don’t want your partner(s) to feel attacked. Additionally, avoid comparisons. Comparing them to past lovers (or your relationship to others) is an easy way to make them feel insecure, threatened and upset — and that’s certainly not going to make them receptive. Finally, be specific. Words like “bad” and “selfish” aren’t just contentious; they’re also unclear. Name your specific desires that aren’t being met so that you leave no room for misinterpretation.
Encourage them to open up as well.
This conversation will be most productive if it’s not one-sided. Give your partner time to process what you’re telling them as well as an opportunity to openly share their displeasures and/or desires. You can do this by asking open-ended questions: What are your sexual fantasies? How would you like me to touch you? Which sex positions would you like to try? If you’re still having trouble, consider introducing Bloomi’s Better Sex: Yes, No, Maybe List, a free, downloadable resource of sex and intimacy acts for you to think through and discuss with your partner(s).
Make (and take) action steps together.
For this conversation to lead to changes that ensure your (and your partner’s) sexual needs are being met, decide together on some action steps. It could be helpful to introduce a joint sex journal into the relationship. A Sex Journal for Couples ($26), available on the Bloomi marketplace, is a practical, fun and beautiful tool for exploring sex and communication. Based on research and input from therapists and educators, the journal helps partners reflect and connect around their sexual intimacy. Similarly, whether you want to introduce sensual massages into foreplay or your partner hopes to incorporate sex toys into dirty time, invest in the products that will boost libido and enhance your sex life. Bloomi’s Arousal Oil ($58) is a great place to start.
Seek out professional help (if needed).
If you’re still struggling to communicate with your partner(s), it’s totally OK! Society has taught us that sex, especially creative sex, is shameful. You and/or your partner(s) may need time to unlearn these messages. Remember: change doesn’t happen overnight. However, there are resources that exist to help you. Consider, for instance, working with a couple’s or sex therapist. These professionals are trained to help you communicate and work through your differences, displeasures and wants in a healthy way.