Being brave in the bedroom: How to ask for what you want


People liken talking about sex to talking about death — it’s not a popular subject for many.
But if we could have conversations about sex with ease, we would all be having a lot better sex.

It feels dangerous to talk about sex. What if I am judged? What if I seem weird? What if my partner tells someone else about this? What if my partner breaks up with me?
We want to explore and experience pleasure, but often we’re too afraid to ask for what we want.
How do we start talking about sex?It’s tricky because even when we sum up the courage to use our words, our partner may not like what they hear, be defensive, angry, hurt or just not listen.

These are the very deterrents that keep important conversations off the table.
My advice? Keep trying.
Pushing through the awkward feels can lead to conversations that teach you about each other, help you feel more confident and subsequently experience more pleasure.
Sex shouldn’t be a chore and it definitely shouldn’t be something that is endured.

Our own erotic blueprintA good lover is interested in understanding what turns their lover on.
Each of us has our own erotic blueprint, thus some exploration and discovery is necessary — both on our own and with our partner.

If you find that you or your partner are not interested in what works for the other person, it may be time to sit down and look at what is blocking interest.
It could be past trauma or unpleasant experiences, shame around sex (very common), problems in the relationship — many things.

That may be the time to talk to a sex therapist together in a safe place.
If you don’t know what you like, take some time on your own to explore.
Not 15 minutes ending with a sigh of frustration, but regular, curious exploration of your body — some parts can take time to wake up.

Do some reading, talk to friends or a sex therapist.
Learning about the things that work for you will increase your pleasure.
There is so little understanding of how people with vulva’s bodies work in terms of arousal and sexual function, that we all stand to gain from learning more than reproduction and disease.
We need to learn more about pleasure!

The three-minute gameTo start communication, I teach couples the three-minute game — a consent tool

Consent, it turns out, is more than just getting a green light for sex.
It’s about being able to ask for things and also say no to things. It’s about setting up a safe container.
It’s about being interested in the pleasure your partner may like to experience. It’s about making communication about sex easier and reducing stress and worry.
It certainly isn’t designed to stop people having fun (a common misconception); rather it’s something that will enhance pleasure for all parties.

How does the three-minute game work?The couple set aside some time and discuss prior to starting, “Are we doing this with our clothes on, underwear, naked? Touching in the erogenous zones?” This sets the container for the next 20 or 30 minutes.Then they take it in turns asking each other for the type of touch they would like to receive for three minutes.Before they ask, they need to check in with their own body for the type of touch it may enjoy. People generally don’t ask for something they won’t like.If your partner asks you for something that you don’t want to do, politely say, “Thank you, is there anything else you could ask me for?”

There is no pouting or arguing. The person simply makes another request. If your partner starts touching you and you don’t like it, you can ask for the touch to be modified, or simply stopped.
My sneaky ulterior motives for this are:Making time for intimacySetting up a safe environment in which to exploreUsing your voiceLearning what type of touch your partner likesPractise saying no.

Consent leads to more pleasureI also get them to think about touch in terms of who is this for. If you offer to give a massage, is it for them or is it for you?

Are you offering the massage because you want your partner to experience pleasure and you will touch them in a way that they enjoy (serving) — or are you offering for your own reasons (taking), i.e. it may lead to sex, you want to worship their body for your own enjoyment.
Answering this question can make it clear for everyone around who is doing, who is receiving and who is the touch actually for.
An example of how this works would be if you were to ask me if you could touch me or do something to me for your own enjoyment.
Say you ask if you could give me a spanking.

Now, I may not be as excited about spanking as you are, but it’s not abhorrent to me either.
So I could agree to allow it because I want you to experience pleasure.
When we’re able to talk and negotiate the activities that we would like to put in our container, we then have the knowledge that these things are safe, and that our partner will say no or stop.
That leaves us free to enjoy what it is we are actually doing without having to worry or overthink things.

When we come out of our heads and into our bodies, that’s where a lot of fun can be had.
Tanya Koens is a clinical and somatic sexologist and relationship counsellor working at Surry Hills Therapy.


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