Dr J's Sex Facts

Fun sex facts and accurate information from a clinical sexologist for a hotter and more fulfilling sex life.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Not Your Usual Polemic on Sexual Communication

"Tell me and I'll forget
Show me and I'll remember
Involve me and I'll understand”
Confucius


“How to Tell Him What You Want,” “If You Don’t Talk, She’ll Walk,” etc. We’ve all seen countless newspaper and magazine articles with titles like these claiming to teach us how to communicate better within our relationships.

Rubbish, I say. Rubbish and poppycock (I say that, too). The fact is we’re already active participants in an endless—and needless—ongoing processing of our every shared thought, feeling and opinion with our partner, as they are with us. Remember when your relationship was new, and you couldn’t get enough of each others’ life stories? In your desire to attain instant intimacy, you stayed up ALL NIGHT telling each other everything: “And then when I was 7, we moved to St. Louis and I got a dog.” After 6 months of this, you did know absolutely everything about each other.

Then what happened? Well, now the two of you are just like roommates–you even share the bathroom! (and isn’t that an exciting development?) Face it, the pilot has definitely turned on the over-sharing sign. Now is the time to shut up a little and try to maintain a semblance of your own private personal space. I call this, “Leaving the bathroom door closed.” It’s important to resist the urge to become so cloyingly close that there’s no longer any “you”—there’s only “you two.” Sooner or later, this familiarity becomes the enemy of eroticism, unless, of course, you’re turned on by the idea of having sex with your roomie (which is fine too).

Women, in particular, are vulnerable to this temptation because we’re socialized to be emotional caretakers (read: endless processing and sharing). The flip side of this is the male social role (“I don’t want to talk about it”) in which feelings are consciously or unconsciously suppressed and avoided at all costs.

Let’s move on to the topic at hand. Of course communication is important—especially when it comes to sex. But try to be more judicious and selective about what you communicate.

But: caring about someone is still no guarantee that you’ll have effective communication. Why? Because our parents provided most of us with our earliest models for how to communicate. And how did our parents resolve conflicts or disagreements? Did you ever see or hear them employ the artful skills of reasoned negotiation? Exactly! Most of us don’t have any role models for our own conflict resolution because our parents tended to hide this from us (and probably still do) out of a misguided attempt to “protect” us. Or—just as scary—we heard them yelling from behind their bedroom door and, being kids, we imagined the worst (and we all know that kids have very active and vivid imaginations when it comes to imagining the worst).

If everyday communication is difficult, imagine how much harder sexual communication is for most of us. Why? Because we had no role models to teach us (“Now Jane, here’s how you tell your partner where you like to be touched”), and we didn’t learn a sexual vocabulary (“I, ummm, want, ummm…”). As a result, we tend to feel extremely vulnerable about sex (“I’ll be so humiliated if s/he doesn’t like the way I kiss”). It certainly hasn’t helped that most of us grew up in cultures that teach us that sex is an inappropriate topic to discuss or even think about (“thinking is the same as doing”).

In next week’s post, we’ll be exploring specific “sex talk” techniques, including assertive communication, which involves treating someone with respect and a positive regard, as opposed to aggressive communication—treating someone in an uncaring, manipulative manner. If you learn how to convey your feelings assertively rather than aggressively, you’re much more likely to attain a positive outcome without hurting the other person.

Our current subject always engenders lots of comments and questions, so fire away; the pilot has turned off the over-sharing sign, but I’m open for business.

With Pleasure,

Dr. J

2 Comments:

  • At 2:25 AM, Blogger Ed said…

    I think the most important type of communication is telepathy. Women want you to know that they want without having to tell you. :)

    Seriously, though, non-verbal communication, being in tune with your partner and picking up on the tiny cues they give you, is vital.

    Also, if you find it difficult to talk to your partner about sex try writing a good old fashioned love letter, or maybe an email (or a blog!). It gives you time to think carefully about what you want to say and it gives your partner time to think about their response. A useful addition to verbal and non verbal communication.

     
  • At 3:02 PM, Blogger Dr J said…

    Happy New Year to Ed in the U.K. These are fabulous ideas, Ed. And what a charming suggestion to write an old-fashioned love letter! Who among us wouldn't just MELT at receiving one? Coming up in this week's post, I'll be discussing some of these forms of communication. Stay tuned.

     

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