How do you tell your partner that you want more or less sex?
Talking about sex with your partner ranks up there with going to the dentist: you know it’s important, but actually going through with it is another story. And you probably have a range of experiences; from the dentist who gives you a warm, lavender-scented cloth, to the office you’d imagine failed its health inspection.
The good news is, there’s a lot you can do to make talking about sex less stressful, even pleasurable! Here’s how.
Define “sex” and your ideal sex life
Most people define sex as whatever “all the way” is for them. For straight, cisgender couples, that’s often penis-in-vagina intercourse (PIV). But sex is so much more than one or two acts. It’s all the things that bring you sexual pleasure! Consider—is it less sex overall that you want or less of a certain kind of sex? What would your ideal sex life look like with this person?
Of course, make sure to share these reflections during your conversation so that you and your partner(s) are on the same page.
Let this article be your conversation starter to talking about sex
In the U.S.’ often sex-negative society, having a “reason” to bring up this topic makes it much easier. Let them know this article came across your feed and it got you thinking. Here you have two options: starting the conversation or scheduling it for later. You can ask:
How would you feel about having sex [more or less] often?
Would you be open to having a conversation about our sex life?
Make it comfortable
Choose a time that you typically aren’t stressed or tired—both of these make it more likely you’ll end up fighting instead of having a productive conversation. And if it comes time to talk and one or both of you feels like shit? Reschedule.
Create a container in which to have the conversation
This is a strategy to help you be present with one another and also give a formal opening and closing to what might be a challenging conversation. It doesn’t mean the conversation can’t continue, only that you’re choosing when and where.
Light a candle, sit across from each other holding hands, and eye gaze for a few minutes. From this space bring up the topic.
Stay open to their perspective. If you notice yourself getting defensive, it’s OK to name that, call a timeout, or resume the conversation another time.
Avoid yes/no questions
Instead of, “are you happy with how often we have sex?” Ask, “how do you feel about how often we have sex?” This invites more dialogue.
Stick to your feelings and desires
Instead of blaming or shaming your feelings, let your partner know how you’re feeling and what prompted you to have this conversation. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- I miss our physical connection. How would you feel about having sex more?
- I feel like we only touch if we’re going to have sex. Sometimes I want to touch you without it leading to anything else.
- I’m really stressed lately and not as in the mood. Can we pull back on how often we have sex?
Make a follow-up plan
It’s so easy to let this conversation be a one and done and then get stuck in your new routine. Instead, make a plan to follow-up. If you’re calendar-loving folx, add it in there. You also could plan a regular “State of Our Union” talk so that it becomes a habit to have conversations like this.
How much you want sex will change throughout your life—and more than once
Asking for more or less sex can feel really intimidating. But you aren’t alone in needing to switch things up. Just like you’ve outgrown some of your childhood dreams or learned to love Brussel sprouts, so too will your desires change. It’s normal and something to navigate together.
How do you broach heavy topics with your partner?