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 11, 2007

Sexual Communication: Speaking Up While Lying Down

“Two monologues do not make a dialogue”
Jeff Daly, Actor/Writer

Welcome New Readers!

As regular readers can attest, you may find this blog a bit different from others because my intention is to be both entertaining and educational. Each new post is based on information presented in the previous one; so to get the maximum benefit, I recommend you begin with the introductory post from August and read forward from there.

Getting Started:

How can you start talking about a sexual issue with a partner when just the thought of doing it seems so scary? Sometimes we need an icebreaker—sharing a book that describes some aspect of sexuality is one way, watching a video or attending a workshop together are others—the bottom line is to try anything that helps introduce the subject. While these suggestions are all great ways to open up the lines of communication, our UK correspondent, Ed, has also suggested writing an old-fashioned love letter or sending an email. Some people feel less vulnerable when broaching the subject in writing, which allows you to gather your thoughts—plus, nobody stammers in writing, right?

Specific Skills:

Active Listen: This means paying attention to the person talking and using your body language to let them know that you’re interested in what they’re saying. Smile, make eye contact and nod in agreement when appropriate. Even though it may be hard for you to stay engaged, be aware that looking at your nails, gazing around the room, etc. are all indications of boredom and lack of interest. Another helpful hint is determining the optimum distance for your conversational comfort. Try this: move your chairs 10 feet apart and try to talk. Are you yelling across a divide? Of course. Now put your chairs right in each others’ face. Smothered much? Sure. For most people, a 2-4-foot distance is perfect for making a connection without feeling overwhelmed. And remember that touch can diffuse anger and discomfort faster than a speeding bullet and that an affectionate pat or squeeze will help remind both of you that you care about each other; so go ahead, make that connection. Here’s a helpful way to remember how to SOFTEN a communication: S = Smile O = Open Posture F = Forward Lean T = Touch E = Eye Contact N = Nod.

Paraphrase: Once the person has finished speaking, repeat back to them what you think they just said. This will help clarify whether you really understand what they’re trying to say and also lets them know that you’ve heard and understood their concern. “I heard you say you’d like us to kiss more often, is that right?”

Speak directly, using neutral, non-confrontational language. Don’t be accusatory, but don’t beat around the bush! “I’d really like to have sex with you more than once a week.”

Only make “I” statements (I feel, I want, I think, etc.) This indicates that you’re sharing your feelings, rather than attacking the other person. For instance, if your partner is chronically late, rather than attacking them by saying “why are you always so late? “ or “you’re always making me wait!” you would say, “when you’re late, I feel discounted and unimportant, and it makes me feel like you don’t care about me.” In fact, it’s a good idea to avoid asking why because sometimes people don’t know why they do things and this just puts them on the defensive. Remember that when people are attacked, they defend. That’s why most discussions end up being wars that no one can win, rather than true efforts to share feelings and ultimately resolve conflict.

Stick to only one topic at a time. Don’t bring up what happened last year. “And another thing: you forgot our two-and-a-half-year anniversary!” This distracts from the topic you’re discussing, and if you get off topic, so will they.

Right about now, some of you are saying: “Well it’s one thing to read about these techniques, but I’ve never talked about sex before, and I’m afraid I’ll just look stupid!” Understood. How about a little rehearsal? Look at yourself in a mirror and repeat your opening sentence until you feel comfortable. Then repeat your next point, etc. You can even rehearse with a willing friend to help you feel less awkward. Are you ready to take on those scary topics? You betcha!

Now that we’ve covered the basics, come back next week and we’ll discuss some specific techniques for asking for what you want, saying no, hearing criticism and enduring impasses.

As always, the doctor is in. This week’s topic may have touched a nerve for some of you, and I want you to know that I welcome your comments and questions.

With Pleasure,
Dr. J


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