Note: This blog is the transcript of Episode #52 of “Under 10: A Mini Podcast on Intimacy”. Listen along here.

Last week I addressed how normal it is to get triggered and encouraged you to focus on cleaning up your messes with compassion as a way to grow and learn through the ruptures.  To pick this week’s theme, I went to the results of a poll I recently sent to my newsletter subscribers asking what podcast themes you wanted to hear more of this season. Your top two responses were communication and sexuality. This week, I’m going to tackle both.  This episode is about the importance of talking to one another during love making and all the many ways that communication in sex is vital for increasing the pleasure and deepening the connection.  Something most people never learned. I’m excited to teach you.

So let’s start by leveling the playing field.  Most people crashed into adulthood without a proper education about how to have healthy, conscious, connected and awesome sex.  It’s not just you. And if your grade school or high school had any classes about sexuality, you were certainly lucky. But typically those were about the physical parts of sex, and not at all about the communication.  Most people’s introduction to sex came from media, including porn, movies, romance novels, and sex-ed books, as well as older siblings and even well-meaning parents. Yet few of these sources ever addressed how to talk to the people you are making love to and why this is even important for taking care of yourself and your partner in bed.  In short, most adults are vastly under-equipped when it comes to using their voices in connection to their sexual bodies.

To underscore this point, take a moment and think about the last love making scene you saw in a movie.  Very likely, there wasn’t much or any talking.  Instead, there was probably dramatic music playing to accompany undulations under the blankets, heads arched back and all indications that everyone was having a grand time — without speaking a word.

While we are led to believe by cinema that this is the epitome of what sex should look like, I’m telling you right now, this is not – I repeat, not – how real sex looks.

Because real sex with real people who are connecting their hearts, voices and bodies, includes giving feedback, asking for what you need, making adjustments and otherwise talking during sex.

Right this moment, countless adults are making love in silence.  So much not being said that could be transforming mediocre, disconnected, superficial and unsatisfying sex into profound healing, connection, depth and pleasure.

Alright, so let’s get to work remedying this travesty.

Talking in sex takes many forms but all of it serves the same purpose: to orient one another to your own and your partner’s needs and experience, moment by moment.  You can think of communication in bed like the road signs along the highway, giving you a heads up that this exit is coming soon or that that there’s a rest stop up here on the left or that you’re 15 miles from home.  Road signs help you find your way during a drive. Without signs on the road or a GPS guiding you, you’re navigating without your bearings. You don’t have the information you need to get where you’re going or maybe even to know where you are.  You’re very likely to get disoriented and eventually, lost.

Silence during sex is like driving without the road signs, leaving you without knowing your relative place in connection to your own and your partner’s experience.  You may still figure out how to move forward, but if there’s a fork in the road and you need to choose which path to take, not knowing where you are relative to where you want to be, it’s very possible that you’re going to take a wrong turn and make a choice that is out of connection with your partner’s needs.  Which doesn’t at all make you bad for taking that wrong turn.  It just means you are uninformed.

Lucky for you, there are very viable ways to get the information flowing and get you back on the road you want.  Here are my three favorite:

#1 Name what you are feeling in your body in present time

#2 Ask for what you want in a way your partner can hear

#3 Make a simple, singular offer

I’ll break each of these down.

First, name what you are feeling in your body in present time.  This practice is the orienting. It invites you to notice and name your body’s sensations without judgement or story. “My mouth is watering”.  “My neck is softening”. “My heart is beating faster”.  “My eyes are tearing up”.  You can identify any body part and then add whatever sensation is there. This is not a way of suggesting that you need anything different. It’s simpler than that. It’s a way of saying, “Here’s where I am, right now”, to bring you both more into the present and into connection.  It’s a beautiful, brave and vulnerable practice.  You can start as soon as you two begin your love making, at the first touch or kiss.  “When you kissed me, my spine tingled”.  That’s it. You have begun to put the signs back on the road.

Second, ask for what you want in a way your partner can hear.  This practice is the navigating.  Of course, it depends on knowing what you want, a much bigger topic.  Whether you know what you want or not, start with a simple request and adjust from there.  “Would you go slower?” “Would you shift to the left?” “Would you use a lighter touch?” “Would you look me in the eyes?” “Would you” are the two words you want to build into your sexual communication.  If you think your partner should know but doesn’t, do your best to ask without throwing in anger or resentment.  If you have feelings built up about not getting what you want, it’s good to talk about it and attempt to clear it before you enter into a sexual space or seek couple’s counseling for additional help.  By asking for what you want, you are cultivating a source of power between your words and your body while also increasing the chances that you will get what you want! With each ask, the two of you are finding one another again and again.

Finally, make a simple, singular offer especially if you know something needs to shift but you don’t know exactly what it is, another form of navigating.  You could try, “Would you like me to use more pressure?” “Would you like me to slow down?” Or, “Would you like me to stroke lighter?”  All of these are asking very specifically about one aspect of your partner’s experience. Note, you’re not saying, “Would you like me to slow down or speed up?”  You’re making one offer not administering a multiple choice test. This is important, for helping to keep the communication slow and embodied. Also, you’re not saying, “Does this feel good?” which of course we all have done.  The problem with that question is that the person hearing it is very likely going to say “yes” whether they are feeling good or not. So we aren’t getting very useful information with that answer.  Instead of, “does this feel good”, do your best to get specific about your offers.  It will help you both stay conscious, connected and empowered through the experience.  And place you oh-so-deliciously back on the map of connection in bed.

Communicating in sex conveys so many things to your partner. It says, “I care about staying connected to you”. It says, “Your experience matters”.  It says, “I want us both to be satisfied”. And it also conveys, “I’m willing to get vulnerable and adjust as we go so that we go there together.”

And while at first it may feel foreign, awkward and forced, like everything I teach, talking in your love making is a practice.  And takes practice.

For this week’s homework, try practicing the three types of sexual communication but with your clothes on.  Make the point of contact a hand massage.  Have one person at a time massage the other person’s hand. Practice naming sensations, making requests and if you are the person giving the massage, making offers.  Set a timer and practice for three minutes then switch roles and debrief your experience. If you are single, find a friend who will try this practice out with you.  Or simply use your journal to reflect on your sensations as a first step.  That is always the starting point for knowing what you want, which is the starting point for asking.

Thank you as always for making conscious intimacy important and having the courage to tune into this podcast each week.  May you be brave as you break the sound barriers and find your voice in your love making.  So much pleasure and depth of connection await you on the other side.

Photo by Mahrael Boutros on Unsplash