I’d heard it said, even openly agreed with it, but had never truly internalized the importance of bold, honest communication during sex. How many times had I endured a painful and clumsy fingering until Partner X decided they’d done a good enough job to stop, dear God, please stop, instead of just telling them “slow it down just a little bit”? How many times had I thought in my head “please, please, please put your mouth here” or “put your hand here” and instead sighed in coy frustration as Partner Y simply passed on by, keen on following their own agenda? How many times had I hopelessly wondered if what I was doing actually felt good for Partner Z instead of just asking them? I’ve lost count.
Much like my clitoris, sexual communication doesn’t come easy for most people; and for some, like me, the journey to getting comfortable with my own desires and needs has been excruciating. Though I’ve been masturbating since before I was a teenager, and by all means have been “in touch” with my body and its likes and dislikes for basically just as long, physically making the words come out of my mouth during sex has been something I’ve struggled with for years. My sexual insecurities held me back in a lot of ways, keeping me from giving or receiving oral sex for way too long (now I know) and, of course, keeping me from expressing my needs in the bedroom. And though it’s sad, I think I sort of just got into a habit from a young age of remaining quiet during sex (aside from moans of “pleasure,” even when it was just performative, because everyone needs encouragement, right?) out of fear of hurting my partner’s feelings. I’ve always been so hesitant to offer suggestions because I thought that it would be a turnoff for my partner(s). Turns out, I might have just been dating people with unusually fragile egos. Or maybe I was just projecting.
One thing that I’ve learned as I’ve matured is that communicating openly with your partner is not insulting; rather it means you’re engaged in the activity and you’re into what’s happening enough to want to enjoy it even more. If anything, being more clear with my partners has served as more of a turnon than anything else—there is something sexy about a person who isn’t afraid to share what it is they want you to do to them. Because women are conditioned to downplay their sexual desire, speaking up during sex can be especially challenging for us. As with many things, though, it seems to get easier with practice.
So where do you like to be touched?
Written by Emma Glassman-Hughes