Communicating about sex is an issue that comes up repeatedly in my therapy work. No matter what the relationship dynamic lots of us find it really difficult to talk about our sexual needs and desires, our likes and dislikes and even to broach the subject in very basic terms.
Why can it be hard to discuss sex
Sometimes it is as simple as not growing up in a family where sex was discussed so we never learnt how to. For other people it's more complex. Sex can be strongly associated with shame for some people (perhaps those who grew up in families with a strong religious / faith emphasis) and for those who have experienced sexual trauma anything sex related can trigger the threat system (fight, flight, freeze, fawn and flop).
Talking about sex in a healthy and effective way when our threat system is triggered is pretty impossible. We might avoid it altogether, might get angry and communicate in a way that causes more issues or might attempt to discuss things but freeze up. There is also a risk that we might "fawn" instead which means we go along with things that we maybe don't want to do which can lead to further trauma.
Sometimes our sexual partner (s) can make it hard for us to talk to them about sex. Maybe they have a trauma history and find their threat system is triggered. Maybe they are people who generally struggle to listen and communicate. If our relationships aren't healthy communication is really tough.
If any of the above resonates for you, it might be time to contemplate doing some work on these issues either on your own or with a suitable therapist or coach?
Do you even know what you like sexually?
Assuming that communication generally is ok then, we can move onto this next question. Do you know what floats your boat sexually? Knowing how and where we like to be touched, our fantasies, what we love and what we hate is so important when it comes to sex. The best way to figure this out is to explore things on your own initially (masturbation is your friend!). You might want to read erotic fiction or listen to audiobooks or watch porn. It's also normal to notice that you like some things some of the time and not the rest of the time. So, sometimes you might love oral sex whilst some times you might be indifferent and other times you might dislike it. Our sexual preferences can and will change and fluctuate.
Practise makes perfect
Make time to communicate! Explicitly talk about the fact that you want and need to talk about sex. Practise talking and listening. Try talking about sex when there is no pressure or expectation that you are actually going to have sex. Chat about sex over a cuppa! Try talking about sex with your friends rather that anyone you might have sex with.
If any of this feels relevant to you, drop me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to find out the ways in which you might be able to work with me. I offer one off coaching sessions, short term focused sexual development plans and long term therapy. I also run a reflective group for women on sex and body issues and offer self help courses and webinars