Partner Communication (part 1)

Look, I get you.


Talking about sex with your partner can feel uncomfortable because it is such a sensitive topic. Especially if you are a Filipino - we come from a culture where we sugarcoat almost everything we say. Walking around eggshells is just something we were accustomed to when discussing sex and intimacy with someone. We are afraid to come off as disrespectful and insensitive. On top of that, sex talk hovers over sexuality, kinks, use of pleasure toys, and body image too, and there is always that thought that opening this up with a partner might make them feel attacked or insecure. What we must understand, though, is that it is normal to feel like that. That only means you care about your partner. And if it’s anything, you are not the only one who struggles with initiating that embarrassing and often awkward sex talk with your S.O.


Fortunately, having open communication about sex with your partner is not at all difficult! These examples of conversation starters from real-life couples can help you build healthier relationships and a more satisfying sex life with your partner. Also, this two-part article will help you make sure that talking about sex will not hurt anyone's feelings and instead, bring you closer together – despite two different expectations and blueprints for physical intimacy. So, why don't we talk about talking about sex and intimacy with your partner?


In the first part of this article, we interviewed three couples to share their take on sex talk within the relationship. We also asked them to rate their sexual communication skills as a couple!


Phoebe (F, 26) and Em (M, 28)


Do you ever talk about sex with your partner?


Phoebe: We talk about sex. Not just as frequent, but we definitely talk about it. Where we will do it, what positions to try, stuff from his past experiences… Sometimes when I see something on sexy websites, I bring it up to him and ask him if it is something we could do together, or like, if could he do that to me, you know? I also like talking about the frequency of sex because I want to make sure we’re on the same page.


Who initiates the conversation, and how?


Phoebe: Usually, it’s me. I start the conversation. It comes out randomly for me though – like when I watch something or remember something I was curious about, I would talk to him about that.


On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your sexual communication skills as a couple?


Em: It is a skill, yeah. And it takes a lot of trial and error to improve it as partners because we come from different backgrounds, right? But to answer the question, I think we would be around 6-7. There is room for improvement, and it is something that we agreed to work on together.


  1. Anikka (F, 36) and Jay (M, 33)


Do you ever talk about sex with your partner?

Jay: We do but with reservations. Being in a long-term relationship with someone, you would think it’s easier for us to weave sex talk into our everyday chats, no? But we’re no different from other couples out there. There is still miscommunication sometimes, so we really consider, like the setting and all, before we talk about it.


Anikka: Yes, that's true. I mean, he’s generally a reserved guy, and he stands by his philosophy in life which is “less talk, less mistake”. But if it is a serious matter such as finances, sex, et cetera, we schedule it and sit on it as a married couple. I think that’s also the adult way of dealing with that. We are well into our 30s, and we believe that there are things not to be casually discussed over say, breakfast or something because it involves his wellbeing e. The mood and environment have to come altogether before bringing up sex. Especially, we have kids running around the house.


Who initiates the conversation, and how?

Anikka: Most of the time I do. I start the sex conversation by asking him if now is a good time to discuss it. If not, when? I make sure that we’re both free and in good headspace before talking about it. We’re also very clear about our intentions or why we want to discuss it - is it because there’s a problem with the quality, or is it something that we want to explore in the bedroom?  


On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your sexual communication skills as a couple?

Jay: Anikka is 10, she’s a really good conversationalist. But I’m like, maybe 6-7 at best. So as a couple, if we average it, we’ll be at 8.


Anikka: Yeah, 8 is decent. I’ll take 8.


  1. N (F, 26) and A (F, 31)

Do you ever talk about sex with your partner?

A: Of course! We always communicate about that.

N: Exactly, we have a post-event discussion after every sexy time! What were the “highlights” and were we satisfied? Is there anything we can do to top that experience next time? Very customer service-oriented! (laughter)


Who initiates the conversation, and how?

N: I would say it’s 50/50 because sex conversation comes naturally for us. We’re a gay couple, and I think we’re just sexually open by nature. Like, there’s no problem talking about sex at all.

A: But what I noticed though, is that sex talk is either a warm-up or a cooldown activity for us. Sometimes it’s before having sex, sometimes it’s after.


On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your sexual communication skills as a couple?

N: 10/10. A is 31. She’s older than me, more experienced, and I think the comfort and confidence come from that. I’m very receptive and open as well, and I like the approach that we built as a couple. You know the pre-event and post-event thing.


I know many of us grew up keeping sexual secrets – from our parents, friends, and sometimes even our partner. This experience has made us anxious to speak up and influenced us to associate sexual openness and pleasure with guilt and shame. But by practicing proper sexual communication skills, we rediscover a significant portion of ourselves – our sense of pleasure. We are doing ourselves a disservice when we lie to our partners about our sexual needs, And unintentionally, this may result in a dissatisfying sexual experience for everyone. So, it is important to create a secure zone and time for sex talk. Share your fantasies, kink, the quality you expect, frequency – because all these things will increase trust and intimacy as a couple and can also revitalize the sexual energy of the relationship.


If all this still sounds overwhelming to you, fear not! The second part of this article will focus on the hows of partner communications. We will gloss over topics such as how to initiate an effective and meaningful sex conversation; how to deliver a no in bed and how to cope with it; where to draw the line between being honest and criticizing your partner's performance; what to say when the sex quality is just a bummer. All this in the next article!


By Coco Eje

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