It sounds cliche, but there’s at least one thing every partner needs to take care of before hopping into bed, whether in a long-term relationship or enjoying casual sex. Intimate communication during sex is the foundation—the bedrock, if you will—of great and pleasurable sex that will leave both parties hungry for more.
Contrary to some rather consumerist ideas about sex, there is no single product that can solve intimate problems or magically help your partner achieve orgasm. While toys and porn are great, without communication and talking about sexuality they’re nearly useless, like a candle without a match.
Before and during sex, it’s important to have these conversations in order to help your partner achieve orgasm and even create more sexual empowerment for both of you.
Before Hitting The Sheets
Before sex, couples can have “kitchen table sex talk,” writes sex educator Laurie Mintz, Ph.D, for Psychology Today. In fact, it’s best to talk about sexuality and sex before getting into bed, especially if something is lacking. Talking about sex outside the bedroom is helpful for solving problems or discussing what’s working well without the pressure or potential negative association during intimate moments.
“These are the talks that partners have about sex when they aren’t having it,” Mintz writes. “The key is general communication skills, such as "I statements" rather than "you statements." For example, “I think it would help me get turned on if..." rather than “You don’t know how to turn me on.”
In casual partnerships, it’s still important to ask questions about anything that might be off the table, or when your partner was last tested. These questions don’t spoil the mood and can make both parties feel safer and more comfortable.
Landon Funk, founder and creator of Funky Feminist, said in an interview with Lora DiCarlo that communication during sex is just as crucial. Funk, who writes about sexual wellness and communication on the Funky Feminist site, said communication can help avoid awkward sex and facilitate explosive orgasms by figuring out what works in the moment for each partner.
“We encourage our audience to be vulnerable and open with their partners and to ask the difficult questions,” Funk said. “When you put yourself out there, your partner will appreciate it.”
Without these vulnerable conversations, our sex lives can stagnate. At a time when sex should be improving and becoming more exciting and interesting, it can feel boring or repetitive for couples that don’t communicate. Switching things up or introducing new experiences doesn’t mean anybody is inadequate; it’s an exciting time of exploration for couples. But it only comes through communication during, and about, sex.
Toys Aren’t A Cure-all
It’s important to realize that toys and porn, while great for getting new ideas and achieving orgasm, are far from a cure all.
Funk said toys can be helpful for facilitating great sex, but aren’t the answer to all our problems. She said it can be nice to have a selection on hand for a new partner to choose from or for couples to pick something new together.
“By discussing the toys and what they stimulate, you will learn what your partner wants and does not want, ultimately leading to a much more pleasurable experience,” Funk said. “No toy will solve all of your intimate problems. Only communication can do that. Introducing toys is, however, a great way to start having these necessary conversations.”
Mintz also writes about this in her article for Psychology Today, stating that simple phrases are great ways to give feedback during intercourse. “Faster,” “harder,” “just like that” and other short phrases are great ways to let your partner know what you’re feeling in the moment, and that kind of feedback may come naturally in the moment.
Natural communication during sex keeps things feeling exciting, which is important because as Funk said, we all want to avoid awkward situations. Continuing to ask for consent, for example, may feel like an overwhelming or embarrassing task, but it’s quite easy to ask, “Do you like that?” or “How does that feel?” without reducing the moment at all.
Other ways to communicate during sex involve showing, not telling. Partners can use their own hands and fingers to place their partner’s body in different ways, and femmes and women may find it especially helpful to guide partners in clitoral stimulation, by positioning fingers, a tongue or a toy.
Common problems with intercourse can usually be solved with great communication. If you or a partner have trouble achieving orgasm, or if things feel a little awkward, small conversations before and during sex go a long way. It can feel a little vulnerable, but the end result is well worth it. Those difficult feelings are often a sign of growth, so embrace talking about your sexuality and invite intimate conversations—it might lead to the best sex you’ve had.