We Need to Talk More in Relationships
That also means regularly talking about sex.
Communication is key.
It might sound cliché, but it’s true. All relationships, be that platonic or romantic, require frequent and honest communication. Some things are easy to talk to your partner about, but talking to your partner about sex can be hard. It can be even harder to tell your partner that you aren’t satisfied with your relationship.
Through August 2020, we ran a survey asking our users about communication in their relationships. In this blog post, we’re going to break down our findings and discuss ways to improve communication in your relationships.
When asked about how satisfied our customers are with their relationships, most of those surveyed said they are satisfied with the level of communication in their relationships, but more than 40% mention they could use tips for improvement.
A great first step to improving communication is to share your emotions with your partner.
A majority of those surveyed infrequently share their emotions. 34% said they rarely talk about their emotions, but will open up to a trusted partner. 24.3% said they only share sometimes, and only when they need to.
Emotions are deeply personal, and sharing them can feel incredibly intimate. And it’s exactly for this reason we’d like to encourage you to start sharing your emotional state with your partner. Emotional availability is one of the strongest foundations you can build your relationship on. Understanding what your partner is feeling, and allowing your partner into your own headspace, will help them to better understand you. Practicing emotional availability will increase trust in your relationship, which will grow your sexual chemistry.
You don’t have to overload your partner with your feelings (that’s it’s own problem), but let them in on if you’re struggling mentally or are feeling frustrated about something. It’s also important to let them know when you’re feeling excited about something or you’re really happy with the way an aspect of your relationship is going. Your partner should be there for you for both the good and the bad.
Now speaking of the bad. . . While most of those surveyed have talked through an intimate conversation with a partner or trusted friend, a little less than 30% say they have attempted, and it did not go well.
Dissecting the successes and shortcomings of your relationship is certainly a sensitive topic that could cause emotions to flare. If this happens, it's totally normal, and something to be aware of before you even have this conversation. In order to keep things productive, be calm and be kind. No one wants to feel like they’re being criticized.
When initiating this kind of talk, Healthline recommends beginning by focusing on both being heard and listening. It shouldn’t be a contest of who can debate better. The goal should be to improve the relationship you both share, which requires collaboration on both parts. Active listening and honesty will take you far. Avoid yelling, sarcasm, or anything that could give your partner the impression that you aren’t taking them seriously. You are responsible for your behavior and your actions. Be aware of how you might sound to your partner.
You don’t have to solve all your problems in one go, but you should walk away from the conversation feeling like it’s been productive. There should be some kind of resolution.
If your partner is not open to communicating with you, be that expressing their own needs or listening to your’s, and that feels like a problem to you, it might be time to evaluate if you want to continue the relationship. Of course, we suggest letting your partner know your concerns. Tell them that you feel that their emotional unavailability is causing problems in your relationship. This might be the wakeup call they needed. And if not, this might be a red flag you need to be aware of.
One could argue that no matter the outcome, talking with your partner is better than not talking at all. Participants in our survey infrequently talk to their partner, family, or friends about their wants and needs. What does this mean for communication? Would sharing wants and needs improve communication in relationships?
30% of participants said they rarely talk to a partner or friends/family about sex and intimacy, but will open up to a trusted partner. 22% said they only share sometimes when they feel that they need to. It seems like people wait until the mood strikes to discuss their feelings on sex and and intimacy, but it’s best to have these conversations beforehand.
Online Mental Health service BetterHelp recommends that you communicate with your partner on a regular basis. Everyone’s rhythm will be different, but make sure it’s consistent. The sooner you can address an issue or bring up something on your mind, the better.
It’s also interesting to note that of those surveyed, 19% will only talk about sex and intimacy if their partner or trusted friend asks. And while it’s good to not want to overburden your partner, you are important. Your partner can’t read your mind, so if there’s something you want to talk about, it is up to you to bring it up.
Maybe you don’t want to cause trouble or you feel embarrassed to bring something up. You’re totally not alone in feeling like that. What we heard from 42.2% of our participants is that they didn’t want to rock the boat. Another 42% said they fear they will be unable to relate to what they are saying.
Sex is a big part of life, but society often makes it out to be something hidden or to be ashamed of. Unlearning religious or purity culture trauma takes time (and might be something to unpack with your therapist), it’s so worth it. The more comfortable you feel in your sexuality, the more you can enjoy your sexual relationships—both with your partner and with yourself. You can only be known as well as you know yourself. Be gentle with yourself, and learn to feel comfortable expressing your needs.
Being comfortable with yourself is important, but being comfortable in your partnership is important, too. You’re both in the relationship, so keep that in mind when you want to bring something up. Protect your own feelings, but remember that “we” might take you further than “I.” If you want to address something, try framing the conversation around the two of you.
There’s something I think would be fun for us to try.
I feel like we aren’t connecting well lately.
But don’t be afraid to be direct. You know your body and desires best. If you’d prefer your partner adjust their technique, whether it be for sex or snuggling, be clear but be kind. You don’t want to put-down or criticize them, so try bringing it up as “What if we tried X?” or “I think it would be better if you Y.” Keep things upbeat.
Taking responsibility for your own pleasure is empowering, and will translate to other parts of your life.
Include your kids in the conversation, too. It’s easy to forget, but kids are also people. And they’re never too young to learn how to clearly express their needs. It’s important to have open, honest conversations with your children about sexual health and consent early on. Forewarned is forearmed. The more information they have, the better equipped they are to make smart, fully-informed choices.
Understanding sex is only going to make them feel more comfortable in their own skin and keep them safer.
When you open a line of communication and make your child feel like they can come to you for help without risk of angering you or being judged, they’ll be more likely to communicate back. This way, you’ve become an avenue of information that they can bring their questions to, rather than learning from the internet and opening themselves to content meant exclusively for adults or to predators.
Sexual education can be lifesaving. It will better equip your child to recognize when they are being groomed or exploited. They will also learn good habits, like using protection and understanding consent. You have to understand what the danger is in order to see it and avoid it.
Open communication can only help all of your relationships.