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What’s hotter in bed than open communication?

For the first instalment of Role Model in Training in 2024, Faye offers some tips on helping your partner divulge their specific desires.

Design by Alexandra Francis @alexefrancis

In this instalment of Role Model in Training, Faye offers some tips on communication, helping your partner divulge their specific desires and improving your sex life.

Faye! Do you have advice on how to fix this problem in my sex life? My boyfriend and I have great sex but there’s one problem. I’m a pretty kinky person with ideas of what I want to try in bed, and he’s always ready to explore my fantasies. He enjoys what I suggest but when I try to ask him what he’s into, he never gets specific. He’ll just say “everything” or “whatever you like” and gets shy when I ask questions. I’m frustrated because even if he says he likes everything, I want things to feel more equal. How do I communicate and unlock his freaky side?

Lost in Communication

Dear Lost in Communication,

It’s at times like this I’m reminded that thorough sex education is not the norm. More often than not, the people we sleep with are byproducts of arbitrary school courses that barely graze the complexity of sexual anatomy, much less desire. Unless you take it upon yourself to research, you’ll enter the bedroom (and the relationship) with a pretty low baseline of knowledge. 

Chances are, your boyfriend hasn’t had the opportunity to think about his turn-ons as deeply, and/or he hasn’t had the opportunity to say them out loud in an intimate way. Of course, when you’re eager to please and he says “just do whatever you want,” it feels like a bit of a rejection, but it doesn’t seem like he’s speaking from a place of apathy or guardedness. It seems more that his scope of knowledge isn’t as deep or well-articulated as yours, and he trusts you to get the job done. If you think about it, it’s a pretty big compliment on your part. 

As a sex writer, I’ve dealt with this exact situation before. No matter how much logic I had access to outside the bedroom, when I was vulnerable with my needs and my lovers couldn’t articulate theirs, I took it more personally than I’d like to admit. 

I felt confused, embarrassed; a little pouty, a little indignant. Now, revisiting it with the objectivity of an advice columnist, I imagine my lovers may have felt the same way. It’s hard to be put on the spot and have nothing to say! The truth is: the best sex requires awkward conversations first. You’ll have to trade a bit of ego, but you’ll get a lot of pleasure in return. 

Going forward, the best thing you can do in this situation is to let go of any frustration or anxiety you feel here. From now on, let’s think about it this way. You get to be the one who guides him in voicing his deepest fantasies, and you get to fulfil them. That’s real intimacy. 

I’ve worked as a sex educator since 2018, and have picked up a good amount of tips, scripts, and scenarios along the way. The techniques I’ll outline below all accommodate for the natural awkwardness and anxiety that arise in conversations about sex, but are specific and goal-oriented enough to actually get you results.

As with all of my advice, feel free to modify these techniques to fit well in your own life. But, no matter what you decide to try, remember to always prioritise enthusiastic, explicit consent as you explore. Especially since you’re trying out new dynamics. Go slow here: listen carefully and ask questions before you act. Reward the vulnerability you’re receiving with a safe, judgement-free environment. And, since you already know your kinks, be careful about trying to shoehorn your boyfriend’s interests into a mould that exclusively satisfies your own. Communicate, collaborate, be open-minded. OK? OK. On to the hot stuff. 

Illustration by Tinuke Fagborun @tinuke.Illustration

So, how do you talk to a lover who doesn’t know what they want? 

The most simple way is to ask them how everything feels. Because you’re in a relationship already, you probably already have a good sense of what your boyfriend reacts well to. Still, next time you get intimate, take a second, go slow, get sensual, and take the time to observe. Notice his breath! Body! Face! 

When he’s notably affected, talk about it. Ask him questions like – “Do you like that? How does that feel? Does that feel good? Don’t be scholarly with it, but also, don’t feel the need to do some super over-the-top, breathy, porn voice if that’s not your vibe. Just be tuned in, curious, and in the moment. It’s going to be really hot, but it’s also going to kind of start delineating, for both of you, what he likes best. Enjoy it, and of course, the more emphatically he reacts, the more you keep doing the thing. Boom – now you two know, he really, really likes when you kiss his neck that way. One more clue’s unlocked. 

Of course, if you guys have been having sex for a while, maybe it was always obvious that he liked his neck kissed. I guess this is the example we’re going with? Maybe you want to see if he wants to try exploring something new. I’m talking: hair pulling, light spanking, new positions, and so on. Things you can do just with your two bodies, that add to the dynamic without changing it altogether.

Since you and your boyfriend have already explored kink and seem to be on the same page, I think it’s okay to open up a conversation in the early stages of foreplay. I’d ask something along the lines of, “hey, is there anything you want to try this time?” Like I warned you, it will probably be awkward for about five seconds. Let him respond, and if he hits you with the “whatever you want!”, you can guide him. 

I think it’s helpful to bring up specific things you like in bed here, not only to set a sort of precedent for the vulnerability you two can share, but also to jog his memory. Like, if you say, “I like position XYZ and when you do XYZ while we XYZ. I go crazy when you ___. It turns me on so much when you ___,” he’ll have a model to go off of. Maybe you’ve noticed from your past experiences he has things he consistently reacts to, but doesn’t bring up. In that case, you can ask something like, “Well, I noticed you always seem to like when we ___. It’s really hot to see you react to it. Do you want to do that more?” If you get new information, proceed and enjoy. And when it’s time to try it out – you can tell him, “If you want __, ask for it.” This is a nice way to get enthusiastic, explicit consent, and it’s also really satisfying to hear/say no matter where you fall on the dom(me)/sub spectrum. Lead by example!

There’s a final scenario here where your boyfriend expresses to you he wants to try new things, but doesn’t have the words in the moment to explain it. In this case, wait till you’re not having sex to bring it up. Since it’s your partner we’re working with here, it should be easier to find a time you two are alone, comfortable, and not immediately in the throes of passion. Tell him you saw a sex educator you like online recommend these things called yes/no/maybe lists. 

These lists are exactly what they sound like – they give you a list of scenarios, and you two can go through them together and compare answers. Here are some free ones I found online – Nox Shop, Scarleteen, Diana Sadat Counselling, That Other Paper – check them out and see which best encompass activities in your sex life. There are tons online, or you could try making your own. Outside of yes/no/maybe lists, you could try something that I’ll call the head to toe method. In this, you two run through a checklist of each part of your body, starting with the hair (do you like it pulled, stroked?), going down to the eyes (blindfolds? Eye contact?), nose (sensory things?), ears (dirty talk?), mouth (types of kisses?), neck (choking, collars?), chest, arms, fingers, torso, so on, and do a little checklist.

If these feel too formal or too comprehensive, you two can go get a new erotica book together and compare what you like best, or have a night where you show eachother your favourite porn videos, or do any kind of exchange outside the bedroom where you’re sharing these fantasies. 

The goal here with all of these examples is to introduce scenarios where you and your partner can openly communicate about sensual things. Remember to go slow and to create an environment where you two are working on the same team. And I know I already said this, but just really keep in mind that communication is difficult for people, especially if it’s not a previously established muscle. Maybe it’ll take your boyfriend minutes to get the hang of it – maybe it’ll take him days, or weeks. Just stay loving about it and don’t apply pressure. It’s most important that you two are enjoying the sex and are fulfilled in the relationship. Freaky, kinky stuff is the cherry on top, and patience and communication are necessary to get there. Best of luck!

Your Role Model In Training,
Faye

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Design by Alexandra Francis @alexefrancis

 

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