Sex influences so much of our lives. From the media we consume, to our relationships, to our thoughts more than a dozen times a day, we are a species that is very focused on sex.
But for as much time as we spend thinking about it, we don’t spend a lot of time vocalizing our thoughts to our partners. In fact, a study found that more than half (54%) of couples were not comfortable talking about sex.
“Conversations about sex are almost as hard or harder than talks about money or kids,” sex therapist Angie Gunn told INSIDER. “We’re not given a template for how to have these conversations, or social acceptance around the importance of these talks. Fear drives this avoidance, and subjugates opportunities for connection and present engagement.”
This lack of discussion around sex can have some serious consequences. For one, studies suggest that this conversational gap leads more couples not to discuss contraception, which can lead to a higher rate of STIs and unwanted pregnancies.
Because people aren’t talking about the nitty gritty of sex, they also are probably not talking about the fun parts of having sex. This means that couples aren’t discussing their likes and dislikes, preferences, kinks, limits, and more. Worse yet, their sex lives are suffering because of it — only 9% of couples who say they’re not comfortable talking about sex claim to have satisfying sex lives, according to a study.
So how do people break through this lack of communication and begin to have a more fulfilling sex life? Well the answer, according to experts, is fairly straightforward: You must have a conversation about your needs, as awkward as it might be at first.
It might be tempting to start this conversation post-sex or in the bedroom, but sexologist Megan Stubbs told INSIDER that it’s best to have the conversation when you’re out of the heat of the moment and somewhere where you both feel comfortable.
“Try to start a conversation with your partner in a neutral location,” she said. “It is best not to spring new discussions when you are in bed. This removes the pressure from your partner to act or answer in a way that would keep the peace before bed. Car rides are a great location for starting a dialogue.”
Being open with your partner is never a bad thing — if you’ve read any relationship advice, you’ll notice the right answer usually includes better communication — but being open about sex can improve a ton of aspects of your life. Studies suggest that people who had better sexual communication were more confident, had more intimacy with their partners, and had better relationship satisfaction overall.
Turns out it’s true: if you want something, don’t be afraid to ask for it.