NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Tips on How to Start a Conversation With a Partner About Your Sexual Desires

In my prior article, Getting to Know Your Own and Your Partner's Sexual Accelerators and Brakes to Improve Your Sex Life, I began a discussion about discovering your own and your partner's sexual turn-ons and turn-offs (see my articles: How to Talk to Your Partner About Sex - Part 1 and Part 2).

How to Start a Conversation With Your Partner About Your Sexual Desires

How Do You Start a Conversation About Your Sexual Desires?
Since most of us in the U.S. weren't taught how to communicate about our sexual pleasure or desires, people often find it hard to talk about this topic to a partner--even with a partner they have been with for a long time. So, some tips can be helpful.

In his book, Tell Me What You Want, Dr. Justin Lehmiller, Kinsey research fellow and social psychologist, provides some tips:
  • Choose the Right Time and Place
    • Choose a place where you and your partner will have privacy and where there won't be disruptions or distractions.
    • If possible, choose a place where you both might feel sexually aroused (e.g., while watching a sexy movie at home or while you're kissing and caressing each other).
    • Consider how long you have been seeing each other, the stage of your relationship and what you feel comfortable sharing at this point. If you share too much too soon, you and your partner might feel uncomfortable.

How to Start a Conversation With a Partner About Your Sexual Desires

  • Have an Ice Breaker in Mind to Begin the Discussion: 
    • If you and your partner want to watch a sexy movie, try to find one that will open up a discussion about the sexual desires you want to discuss. For instance, if you fantasize about an aspect of role playing or BDSM (Bondage, Discipline, Domination, Submission, Sadism), choose a movie that will has BDSM scenes (preferably one that doesn't have the most severe forms of BDSM if this is the first time you and your partner will be talking about it and you don't know how your partner might feel).  This can open up a discussion about what you both saw in the movie and whether these things were sexual turn-ons.
    • If you and your partner visit a sex shop, you can share what each of you might be interested in from the shop's selection of sex toys and other merchandise.
    • Consider a game where you each reveal your sexual turn-ons (e.g., Where Should We Begin?, which is a game developed by sex and relationship therapist, Dr. Esther Perel).
  • Be Clear on Why You're Sharing Your Sexual Fantasies: Being Clear Will Help Put Your Partner At Ease:
    • Do you want to have an initial conversation about each of your fantasies and have more conversations about it in the future? OR
    • Are you hoping to enact some or all of these sexual fantasies?
  • Recognize That Communication is a Two-Way Street:
    • While your partner will be learning about your sexual fantasies, you'll also discover their fantasies.  
    • Expect that you and your partner might not have the same exact fantasies, but there might be some fantasies you both share, so try to keep an open mind.  Just because you don't have the same fantasies doesn't mean that you're not sexually compatible.  According to Dr. Lehmiller, most couples have at least some fantasies they share.  So, you can focus on the fantasies you share in common rather than being upset about the ones you don't share.
    • Don't take it personally if your partner doesn't like what you like. You each have your own personal history as well as likes and dislikes.  
  • Be Tactful With How You Respond to Your Partner's Self Disclosure:
    • You don't have to like what your partner likes (and vice versa), but you need to be respectful and tactful.  Remember that in the same way you're being emotionally vulnerable by sharing your fantasies, so is your partner.  So, don't be judgmental or critical or this will shut down the conversation and, possibly, ruin your relationship.
    • Express appreciation to your partner for opening up to this intimate conversation.

How to Start a Conversation With a Partner About Your Sexual Desires

  • Be Aware That You'll Probably Have Other Discussions About Your Sexual Fantasies 
    • Discussing your fantasies and your partner's usually isn't a one-time conversation.  
    • If all goes well during the first discussion, you might want to go more in-depth about certain fantasies.
    • Sexual fantasies often change over time, so if you're in a long term relationship, you'll want to explore fantasies at different points during your relationship.

My Next Blog Article on This Topic: Potential Negative Consequences of Self Disclosure
Even though these conversations usually go well for most people, in my next article I'll discuss some of the potential negative consequences of discussing your sexual fantasies: Potential Pitfalls of Talking to a Partner About Your Sexual Desires).

About Me
I am a licensed New York City psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR, AEDP and EFT therapist.

I am a sex positive therapist who works with individual adults and couples (see my article: What is Sex Therapy?)

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.