How we communicate our sexual needs and desires within intimate relationships is critical. Not talking about your sexuality can lead to dissatisfaction in any intimate relationship. For many couples, discussing their sexuality is very problematic. There may be a sense of shame or embarrassment in discussing your sexual needs and desires. This sense of shame or embarrassment holds back many couples from achieving a happy, satisfying sexual relationship.
We find sex everywhere; on the television, internet, movies, magazines, fashion and advertising. So why is sexuality and sexual desire such a difficult topic to discuss with your intimate partner? Generational differences may have contributed in part to how we express our sexuality. For instance, there is perception that younger people are more sexually liberated than their parents or grandparents. But this may not always be the situation. For some younger people who may have been raised in conservative families their understanding of sexuality may be less than their grandparents. Sexuality is a positive expression in human relationships and an important part of how we connect and maintain our relationship.
Sex education may have been taught in your school. Or you may now be an adult who believes you do not need any further knowledge. But take a few moments to reflect on the following:
- Add to your knowledge. Researchers have learned a great deal more about male and female sexuality in the last few decades. There are many excellent books which may enlighten you, and help you obtain a better sex life.
- Develop you own self-awareness. Each of us is unique. If we are to enjoy our sexuality to the fullest, we must learn how we experience it. As individuals we all need to think about ourselves in terms of a whole person. That is, in terms of our needs; physical, emotional, rational and spiritual. Try to gain an understanding of which parts of your body are most sexually sensitive. What emotions do you experience when expressing sexuality? What do you think is the appropriate role of sex in your relationship?
- Develop an awareness of your partner. Your partner is unique as well. And they need to learn about their sexuality as well as your own.
- Communicate regularly. For two people to really understand each other’s sexuality they must talk about it. But communicating about sexuality is one of the areas couples do least. It is crucial that you risk communicating about your sexual self openly, honestly and regularly.
- Work at it. Developing satisfying and healthy sexual relationships takes time and persistence. It may take many attempts to express your desires and needs. But don’t give up if on the first attempt, if it either fails, or gets misunderstood.
- Seek assistance. If sexual problems arise and you find that you cannot solve them, then seek professional help. In some situations, the problems may be physical which may require a visit to a sexual health specialist. While other problems may be psychological where a visit to a counsellor or sex therapist may be more appropriate.
Sexuality is basic to our human nature. Yet it is also very complex and for many, fraught with shame, embarrassment and compromise. Becoming open and honest with your partner and allow them to do the same may improve your sexual relationship.
Christopher Swane - Relationship Counselling and Psychotherapy - Wellington New Zealand