In preparation for this post, I asked you what you, my readers, are struggling with regarding sex, and passed those struggles along to Aimee Heffernan.
Read Part I of her answers here.
In preparation for our interview, I sent her a list of your concerns to review. Right away we noticed some themes and will be talking about those themes instead of answering question by question.
How to Have Conversations about Sex
Everyone who wrote in a problem they’ve been having need to be open and honest with their partner about what their problems and concerns are, regardless of what they are.
That can be easier said than done however, so here are some tips from Aimee about how to start these conversations:
“Many people want to talk about improving sex, but don’t even know how to get started.
How do you initiate this conversation? What is also hard is that sometimes people are very reactive in these sensitive conversations. Ego starts playing a role. Men have performance anxiety thinking, “Oh am I not doing it good enough? I need to be pleasing my woman.” And then shame and reactivity can get in the way of these conversations.
Women, on the other hand, have beauty and body image issues.
If you are looking for a concrete way to have these conversations, there are many helpful questionnaires you can find online that have a gazillion questions, like, “Do you like to be kissed on the neck? Are you interested in doing or receiving ______?”
Sometimes the answer will be, “No way!” or maybe, “I’m not really interested, but if my partner was I would be okay with it.”
Another idea I recommend is to have a picture of a body and you literally point to places where you like to be touched. Point out where your erogenous zones are.
[Note: In the book 31 Days to Better Sex there are two activities that sound like what Aimee is describing here. They are both from the early chapters of the book, the ones you might be tempted to flip past to get to the juicy advice about new or exciting things to do in bed.
But these early chapters of 31 Days are about you being more comfortable with yourself. For one exercise, you must, no exceptions, come up with five parts of your body that you think are attractive. This was hard, but important.
In other activity, similar to what Aimee is describing, you have to come up with three places where you like to be touched. We went into these activities thinking we knew what each other’s answers would be. We both learned a lot and if we hadn’t forced ourselves to think about those things, and say them out loud, we wouldn’t have known.]
“Another thing I do is I ask people to describe, in detail, ‘What would your ideal night of sex look like? Do you like candles? Are you taking a bath first? Where in the house are you? What is your ideal, your fantasy?’
Sometimes I say this and, often women, but it’s usually the low-desire partner looks at me like, “What are you TALKING about? I don’t want sex at all.” And there’s a sadness in that. That your sexual self is shut down to the point where you can’t say “Well, this is what I think might be sexy!”
[Note: Something worth clarifying: I think part of what Aimee is describing here isn’t “If you can’t describe, in detail, your ideal sexual fantasies, then that is sad and you should feel bad.” Rather, the thing she keeps emphasizing is that your brain, your imagination, those need to be engaged in finding what you want in sex because there’s not a magic wand, or a book, or a technique, that is going to make someone suddenly become sexual. It starts with knowing yourself.]
With low-libido individuals, they feel like there’s nothing there, there’s nothing to pull up. But I feel like, if we keep thinking and trying, we always find SOMETHING down in there. People have those things – it’s part of our nature to be sexual.
Just getting erotic conversation happening between the couple is REALLY helpful. It can nip a lot of sexual problems in the bud. And it’s sexy! Of course, that’s if you can do it a way that won’t’ hurt someone’s ego. For a low-libido partner, they might hate these conversations. But just being able to talk about sexual fantasies and desires together can do a lot to solving your sexual difficulties.
Make it About Just One of You
[Many of you reported struggles with the specifics of foreplay and getting aroused, here is a great tip from Aimee to try out if you are struggling with this (and even if you’re not!)]
Here’s another suggestion that I give to couples a lot: have a night where it’s just about one person. Just about their pleasure. The other person that night, they don’t get touched even, it’s not about them. It’s just about focusing on the one person, what they want, what they are feeling. And along with that, the person who is the one receiving, they have to explain what it is they want.
The issue with women when they have a low-libido or having trouble orgasming, they’ve never done much personal self-discovery and reflection to know what works for them. That’s part of being comfortable with themselves and their body.
When someone comes to me with a problem of “I can’t orgasm” that sometimes requires doing a whole “sexual autobiography.” There are so many aspects and mindsets that play a role in how someone thinks about and experiences sex. Sometimes there are traumatic parts of their lives. I really recommend working with a therapist if this is the case, but working through your past and your mindsets about sex is part of knowing yourself and can be really helpful in overcoming hold-ups around sex.”
Thanks so much for your advice and help Aimee! This was really helpful!
If you have any great tips on how to have conversations about sex or just mixing things up- let us know in the comments!