How to talk about sex?


To talk about sex effectively, especially in a relationship, several approaches and considerations are vital:

  1. Addressing the Impact of Stress: Stress can significantly affect sexual interest and intimacy in a relationship. If sex has stopped or decreased in your relationship, it is a good indicator to have a conversation with your partner about current stresses and their sources. It is crucial to understand that these stresses might not always be related to the relationship directly but can still impact intimacy 1.

  2. Creating a Safe Space for Discussion: When planning to discuss your sexual relationship, it's recommended to use a gentle and positive approach. Start by asking for permission to ensure it's a good time for such a conversation, express the positive aspects of your sexual connection, and encourage your partner to share their feelings and barriers they might perceive regarding intimacy. This approach helps in setting a stage where both partners feel safe and valued during the conversation 1.

  3. Clearing Misunderstandings and Hurt: It's crucial to address any accumulated misunderstandings or hurt feelings, metaphorically described as "sleepy hedgehogs". These issues need to be managed with kindness and compassion to clear the path back to each other, improving both communication and intimacy 1.

  4. Navigating Contradictory Social Messages: Understanding the conflicting messages society sends about sexuality (moral messages from education vs. exaggerated media portrayals) can help you and your partner set realistic expectations and reduce the pressure and shame often associated with sexual desires and activities 2.

  5. Developing Comfort in Discussion: To become more comfortable with discussing sex, it's beneficial to start conversations early, repeat them, and normalize discussions about body parts and relationships without moral judgment or discomfort. This groundwork makes later, more complex discussions about sex less daunting and more productive 3.

    Stress and Sex

    Emily explains how stress can affect sexual interest and connection in a relationship, and offers tips on how to have a conversation with your partner about it. She introduces the concept of "sleepy hedgehogs" as a metaphor for the accumulated hurt feelings and misunderstandings that can stand between partners, and suggests ways to manage them with kindness and compassion.

    The Knowledge Project

    Emily Nagoski — The Knowledge Project #66

These strategies emphasize communication, understanding, and sensitivity, helping partners to maintain or improve their sexual relationship despite the challenges posed by stress, societal messages, and personal barriers.