We can’t expect someone to guess our favorite food or band, so how can we expect them to intuitively know our most intimate desires?
Staying in a less-than-satisfying pattern is often more comfortable than being clear and direct. Such communication can be terrifying. It dips into our feelings of self-worth, confidence, and fear of potential outcomes we aren’t prepared to navigate.
However, staring at the ceiling time and again, frozen in silence (or worse, expressing insincere moans) while wishing your partner would move a little to the left is a special kind of hell.
The good news: It is possible to teach your partner what you want in bed without hurting their ego. First, let’s bust some common “what if” myths.
They get defensive?
Instinct might tell us to back off when things get uncomfortable, but here, we can lean into compassion. Name the emotion, and present a solution. “It seems like you’re feeling … How can I say it in a better way?”
They’re confident in their abilities, but I’m not really into it?
Approach the conversation when you’re in a positive mood. Express excitement and curiosity, not criticism. “I love it when you … What if we try … ?” Continue to check in with them.
I ruin the moment?
What time and place aligns best with your relationship? During date night at Dave & Buster’s? Mid-intimacy when your partner is fired up by your sexual response? Trust your intuition.
I show them exactly what I want by guiding their hands or mouth, and they think I am (gasp) too sexual?
It’s 2023, friends. Purity culture is out. Sex positivity is in. It’s safe for you to be vulnerable and honor your desires.
I speak up, but they don’t get it right?
Be patient and appreciative. Celebrate the positives, and continue guiding them. “I love it when you … Next time, would you do … ?” Talk about it afterward, and practice aftercare. (It’s like foreplay in reverse.)
Here are some tips for teaching your partner what you want in bed:
1. Get consent.
Crucial for safety, open communication, and trust. Do not pass “go” before collecting consent!
- Would you be comfortable if we tried … ?
- Are you open to … ?
- Can I ask you to … ?
- Would you like it if we tried … ?
- How do you feel about … ?
2. Show compassion.
Be the person you wish to see in the bedroom. Student first, teacher second. Hold space for a spectrum of feelings to arise. They will, and that’s okay.
- How can I make this feel even better for you?
- Will you teach me the pace you prefer?
- What things are you curious to explore together?
- Have you ever fantasized about … ?
3. Get creative.
What positive communication style would help a partner take your guidance to heart? Teaching a partner isn’t a “one-and-done” conversation. Keep it moving forward.
- Body language: Lean, shift, or grind into what feels good. Consider moving your hands to where your partner is touching you. Put your hands next to theirs, and see how that feels. Can you guide their strokes or pace the rhythm differently?
- Demonstrate: Try the technique you desire on their body (sucking, tapping, etc.). Then ask “Will you try that on my … ?”
- Verbal cues: Soft moans can be affirming (but don’t fake it).
- Sensual: “It would make me feel soooo good if you …’
- Humorous: “Would you be into choking me out? Respectfully.”
- Sensitive: Try the Sandwich Technique. Layer the request between positive praise. Praise, request, praise.
Embracing the role of teacher and student shows that you respect your partner enough to be honest rather than letting confusion, misunderstandings, or resentments fester.
Don’t beat around the—ahem—bush. It’s kind to be candid.
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