Are You or Your Partner Uncomfortable Talking About Sex?

For some couples, even if they do not have problems in their sexual relationship, talking openly and honestly about sex can be uncomfortable – and that can limit the quality of your sex life. When these issues come up, you and your partner may avoid talking about the problem all-together which can lead to you feeling distant from each other. Or you may get in heated or intense arguments about the issue.

Do you and/or your partner feel uncomfortable talking about sex? Does it get in the way of your sex life or your relationship in general? If so, keep reading to learn tips on how to better manage this problem.

Here are two common cycles couples find themselves in:

Cycle 1: ONE OF US IS UNCOMFORTABLE TALKING ABOUT SEX

In this cycle, one of you wants to discuss your sexual interests, likes, dislikes, and needs, while the other person feels embarrassed or uncomfortable with this discussion.

Cycle 2: BOTH OF US ARE UNCOMFORTABLE TALKING ABOUT SEX

Or it may be that both of you may want to discuss your sexual interests, likes, dislikes, and needs, but aren’t quite sure how to start the conversation without feeling embarrassed, judged, or awkward.

 

Cycle 1: ONE OF US IS UNCOMFORTABLE TALKING ABOUT SEX

Tips for the “I Don’t Want to Talk About It”” Partner                 

“I feel embarrassed talking to my partner about sex. Our sexual relationship is fine. Why do we have to make it weird by talking about it?”

The more your partner wants to discuss your sexual wants and needs, the more uncomfortable you feel and the more you pull away. You may feel your partner is invalidating your feelings by bring the topic up a lot. You may also feel hurt if you feel your partner is implying that your sex life is not good enough.

  1. Don’t Pull Away. It may be easy to pull away when you are uncomfortable with a topic, but doing so is only going to put distance between you are your partner. Next time your partner brings up the topic of sex, ask your partner for some time to think about it so you’re not put on the spot. And then think carefully about what you want to say.
  2. Figure Out Why. Think through why you are uncomfortable discussing your or your partner’s sexual interests and wants. Is it because there is a problem? Did something happen in your past that makes it difficult to discuss sex? Is talking about sex difficult for you because of messages you received from your family or religious leaders? If any of these are true, let your partner in to why it’s difficult to discuss sex. This may help him/her be more validating of your level of comfort or make it easier to approach talking about in a different way.
  3. Set Communication Rules. When you are ready to talk about sex, tell your partner what you need to feel safe. This could be having the conversation in the bedroom, setting a no judgement or laughing rule for suggestions or for showing discomfort, taking a time out when needed, or making sure the kids are asleep.

Tips for the “Let’s Talk About It!” Partner  

“Talking about sex could make our relationship better. My partner doesn’t want to have these conversations which makes me feel like he/she’s not comfortable with me.”

The more your partner refuses to talk about sex, the more you may wonder if your partner thinks there is something wrong with your sex life. Moreover, you may feel hurt that your partner is not comfortable enough with you to have these intimate conversations with you.

  1. Listen Without Judgement. If you bring up the topic and your partner lets you know he/she is uncomfortable, don’t be accusatory. Instead, ask “Why does it bother you?” using a nice and non-judgmental tone of voice. He/she might be reluctant at first, but let him/her know that you won’t judge. Also, let your partner know that you do find this issue important and want to figure it out with him/her.
  2. Be Respectful. We all have different levels of comfort with talking about sex. Try to recognize that your partner may be uncomfortable for a reason. If he/she is not ready to talk about something, do not push the issue. By not forcing a conversation, your partner will feel less pressured which may make him/her more likely to talk about something next time.
  3. Communicate Any Hurt. If you are feeling hurt that your partner will not discuss sex with you, let your partner know that when he/she pulls away it makes you feel like he/she is not comfortable enough with you to have these kinds of conversations. Let him/her know that you also respect his/her boundaries, but that it’s important to you that you both feel comfortable talking openly with one another, even if takes some time.

 

Cycle 2: BOTH OF US ARE UNCOMFORTABLE TALKING ABOUT SEX

“We both find it uncomfortable to talk about sex.”

While it might help that the two of you are at least on the same page with discomfort when talking about sex, by not having these conversations, you may be limiting the enjoyment you could be getting out of your sex life. You may also notice that any problems in the bedroom are not getting resolved because neither of you wants to bring it up.

  1. Don’t Pull Away. It may be easy to avoid discussing a problem or pull away when you are uncomfortable with a topic, but doing so is only going to put distance between you. If there is something that you would like to change about your sexual intimacy or just want to talk about, try to broach the conversation with your partner.
  2. Figure Out Why. Think through why you are uncomfortable discussing your interests and wants. Is it because there is a problem? (If so, consider viewing other topics on sexual difficulties) Did something happen in your past that makes it difficult to discuss sex? Is talking about sex difficult for you because of messages you received from your family or religious leaders? Once you have both through what may have led to your discomfort, plan a time to share this information with each other. You may feel closer after opening up to each other instead of avoiding conversation.
  3. Set Communication Rules. When you are ready to talk about sex, tell each other what you need to feel safe. This could be having the conversation in the bedroom, setting a no judgement or no laughing rule when suggestions are made or when someone feels uncomfortable, taking a time out when needed, or making sure the kids are asleep.

 

Recommended Resources

The suggestions presented here may help you break the cycle of behaviors you and your partner are struggling with when trying to talk about sex. Remember that problems may not stop overnight, so give yourselves time to make changes. Remember that the reason things are so difficult is because you care about each other and want what is best for your relationship.

Complete a Free, Online Self-Help Program.  Consider working on your relationship using our proven, self-help relationship program. Our program is developed by leaders in the fields of couple therapy and pre-marital education and has been shown through extensive research to improve relationships – more than in-person classes and almost as much as marriage counseling. You’ll work with your partner to complete online activities and receive free support from one of our program coaches. Our program is developed by leaders in the fields of couple therapy and pre-marital education. So, you can be confident that it’s the best thing you can do to strengthen your relationship without the hassle and cost of a therapist. Not sure your partner would go for it?  Take a look at these tips for how to introduce the idea. To find out more about our program, go to our home page.

 

Books dealing with Sexual Intimacy:

SEX SMART: HOW YOUR CHILDHOOD SHAPED YOUR SEX LIFE AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT

THE JOYS OF SEX: RELATIONSHIP AND SEX ADVICE FOR YOU AND YOUR WIFE AND STRENGTHEN YOUR BOND (SEX POSITIONS & COMMUNICATION)

FOR EACH OTHER: SHARING SEXUAL INTIMACY