As therapists, we’ve seen firsthand the impact that a lack of sexual pleasure and communication can have on a relationship. All too often, couples come to us struggling with issues related to sexuality, and it’s no surprise why: sex is a complex and intimate aspect of our lives, one that often goes unspoken and unacknowledged.
But the truth is that sexual pleasure and communication are integral components of a healthy, fulfilling relationship. When we neglect these aspects of our lives, we miss out on a critical aspect of human connection and personal growth.
Sexual pleasure is about more than just physical gratification. It’s about experiencing joy, excitement, and a sense of connection with your partner. When we allow ourselves to fully surrender to the experience of sexual pleasure, we open ourselves up to a deeper level of intimacy and connection.
However, this level of intimacy can only be achieved when we have open, honest communication about our sexual desires and needs. Communication is key to ensuring that both partners are on the same page and that each person’s needs are being met. Whether it’s talking about your favourite positions, discussing what you’re comfortable with, or simply being open about your desires, communication is essential in creating a safe and fulfilling sexual experience.
But despite the importance of sexual pleasure and communication, loads of couples struggle with these issues. Some may feel embarrassed or ashamed to talk about their sexual needs, while others may be afraid of rejection or judgement. This fear can lead to a lack of intimacy and a decline in sexual satisfaction over time. We become distant lovers, 1 inch a part in bed, but miles away from each other intimately.
That’s why it’s so important to address these issues head-on and create a safe space for each other to talk about our sexual desires and needs. By breaking down the barriers and taboos surrounding sexual communication, we can deepen our connection and experience greater pleasure in the bedroom.
Here are a few key tips for improving sexual communication and pleasure in your relationship:
- Be open and honest: The first step to improving sexual communication is to be open and honest about your desires, needs, and boundaries. Be willing to listen to your partner and have a non-judgmental conversation about what you both want and need.
- Create a safe space: It’s important to create a safe, non-threatening environment where both partners feel comfortable talking about their sexual desires and needs. This could mean setting aside dedicated time for this conversation or finding a private place where you can talk without distractions.
- Practice active listening: Communication is a two-way street, and it’s important to listen to your partner’s needs and desires just as much as you express your own. Pay attention to their body language, listen to what they’re saying, and show empathy and understanding.
- Get curious: Instead of approaching sexual communication with a sense of judgement or shame, try to approach it with a sense of curiosity. Ask questions and learn about your partner’s real wants, and be open to exploring new experiences together.
- Seek support: If you’re struggling with sexual communication or pleasure, don’t hesitate to seek help from a therapist or relationship expert. We can provide guidance and support as you work to improve your sexual relationship.
The space in between wanting to ask something and not asking it, is the biggest trap of any relationship.
Now imagine how many questions we have about sex that we never ask, and how deep that gap within ourselves and between ourselves and others is?
How much sex should I be having? Am I doing it right if I feel like that? How can I have better sex?
So much room for assumptions, myths, miseducation, and lack of safety. At Self Space, we work with people every day on having better relationships with themselves, their partners, and their sex lives, and there’s one thing we know for certain:
Good sex takes work
Have you ever wondered about the fact that most people don’t have a proper sex education and yet we expect everyone to know what they’re doing?
Sex education covers many things, but pleasure certainly isn’t one of them.
And because pleasure isn’t included in most of our sex education, we always start off in very unhealthy and shameful ground in our sexual relationships. Sexual health is sexy, and helps us to feel safe, which in turn helps us when having fun.
Try to go beyond the ideas and images that come up as soon as you hear the words sexual health – that’s the cultural shame talking. Take a deep breath in, unclench your jaw, stretch for a bit, and come back to yourself.
Let’s build some foundations.
Pillars of sexual health.*
Consent is the explicit permission to touch and be touched. It is about being informed and clear about what we are consenting to. It is only valid in the here and now, it has to be sought every time, and it can be withdrawn at any time.
This is about being mindful and aware not to manipulate, coerce, or influence anyone by withholding information or telling lies.
Protection from STIs and unwanted pregnancy
In the UK, information and contraception are widely available, and so this point is about personal responsibility. How can we take better care of ourselves and our own sexual health? This may include being more consistent with sexual check-ups, more open and honest with sexual partners and/or friends, or seeking advice of professionals.
Honesty starts with ourselves. This includes being curious and kind about our turn-ons and turn-offs, and being brave enough to communicate them to sexual partners.
Shared values allow for a thriving and exciting sex life with partners. This may be around kinks, monogamy vs ethical non-monogamy, or morality. The more we talk to each other about these, the less assumptions we create, and the less we hurt each other.
What turns you on? What turns them on? Are we aware and open enough to have this conversation with intimate partners. Mutual pleasure is not necessarily about mutual orgasm, and is more about being fully present with someone and enjoy each moment and sensation you are sharing.
*Braun-Harvey & Vigorito 2016; Neves 2023