How to ask for what you want in your sex life
- Telling your partner you want to switch things up in the bedroom or try something new can be an intimidating experience if you're unsure where to start.
- Therapist Rachel Wright suggested asking yourself what you want first, then creating a safe space for you and your partner to discuss your sex life in a judgment-free way.
- Checking in at least one per month can help, since a person's desires may change often.
- This story is the first in a series tackling sex education for adults, making it more inclusive, informative, and shame-free.
- Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.
If you've ever been interested in trying a new sex position, sexual fantasy, or kink with your partner but were too nervous to broach the topic, you're not alone.
New York City-based therapist Rachel Wright says her patients have asked her for help with this so many times, she created a worksheet for how to go about it.
"There are so many different versions of the same question, which is, 'How do I just tell them what I want, or that my desires have changed?' It becomes about the other person instead of you," when it should be about you, Wright told Insider.
Even if you're content with your sex life overall, having regular check-ins with your partner will only boost your communication and intimacy, Wright says.
Ask yourself: 'What do I want?'
Before chatting with your partner, it's important to check in with yourself.
You should ask yourself how often you think about sex, how you like to touch yourself when you masturbate, what your favorite sex position is, and why you're drawn to fantasies you haven't yet explored, but would like to.
According to Wright, self-reflection can prepare you for any follow-up questions your partner might have after you present them with your desires.
Wright's patients and friends have told her they go to ask their partner for what they want, but then their partner asks questions to better understand. When that happens, the person asserting their desires freezes because they don't know how to respond.
"It creates this issue where one person is trying to give the other person what they're asking for, but that person doesn't really know what they're asking for. And that can start to feel embarrassing or shameful and it can shut it down because then they're like, 'Oh, well, never mind. I don't know,'" Wright said.
Doing some self-homework can prevent that from occurring.
Set aside time to discuss your desires with your partner
Once you have a grasp on what you want in your sex life and why, it's time to tell your partner.
But you shouldn't spring it on them or say, "Hey, we need to talk," according to Wright, because that phrase can make a person think the conversation is going to be a negative one.
Instead say something like, "I'd like to set aside a time to talk about our sex life, and share with you some things I've recently learned about myself and my desires," Wright suggested.
Use 'I' statements to convey what you want
During the scheduled conversation, frame things from your perspective using "I" statements, said Wright.
For example you could say, "I feel special when you carve out time for use to be intimate," or "I feel so connected to you" during a favorite sex position. Then, you can say that's why you'd like to do more of that thing, or something similarly related that you've never tried before.
This approach also works for discussing sexual things you've tried but didn't enjoy, Wright said. You could say, "I really thought I'd enjoy reverse cowgirl, but I ended up not, which I found interesting."
Framing things this way, rather than saying, "You could've done this" or, "Why don't you ever do that?" makes the experience positive rather than shameful, Wright said.
"Thinking about it as like after a game, how you would look at the plays and kind of analyze what went well, this [conversation] is doing that, but without any judgment. Nobody did anything wrong. You're just saying what could be better or different," Wright said.
Come prepared with resources for your partner
If your desires are a bit more complicated than a new sex position or how frequently you'd like to have sex, come prepared with resources to help your partner.
If you're interested in experimenting with a dominant and submissive relationship in the bedroom and your partner doesn't know much about the dynamic, offer books or websites that break down the topic and be empathetic as they educate themselves, said Wright.
A simple Google search often does the trick, and a book like "Ultimate Guide to Kink: BDSM, Role Play and the Erotic Edge" by sex educator Tristan Taormino could be useful if you're interested in lesser-known kinks.
"Even an empathy statement of, 'I know that we haven't explored this before and that is totally new territory, so anything that I can do to support in this exploration, let me know. I'll be involved as little or as much as you want,'" can help, she said.
Check in at least once a month
Once you've taken the dive and put your conversation to work in the bedroom, it's important that you keep consistent.
According to Wright, you should set up intimacy check-ins with your partner at least once a month to discuss how your sex drives and fantasies have evolved.
"I think it's really important that we normalize the evolution of communication and desires and wants and likes," Wright said.
"It's a muscle to look inward and say, 'What am I liking? What do I like about this?' And then communicate that to another person. And the more that we flex that muscle, the easier it becomes, but we've got to start somewhere."
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