How To Tell Your Partner That You’re Not Happy With Your Sex Life

Photographed by Ashley Armitage.
Talking about sex is hard. Telling the person you love that you're not happy with your sex life is even harder. In fact, it might feel impossible to start a conversation about all the things you don't like about having sex with your partner. You might feel that airing your dislikes will make your partner feel rejected, or like you don't love them anymore — and that's not necessarily true.
Instead, disappointment in your sex life usually means that you and your partner aren't communicating your needs and desires clearly. Couples who are struggling with their sex lives often sweep the issues under a rug, precisely because they feel that talking about it will make their partner angry or sad, Vikki Stark, M.S.W., a psychotherapist in Montreal, wrote for Psychology Today.
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"Most marriage counsellors know that the biggest problem people face is avoidance," Stark wrote. So how do you get past the fear and talk honestly with your partner?
First, remind yourself that you and your partner love each other, and having an honest conversation will only make your bond stronger. As long as there aren't other problems in your relationship, such as lack of respect or emotional abuse, talking openly about what you want from sex shouldn't be a problem — as long as you're kind about it. Don't go into the conversation angry and don't play the blame game.
At its core, talking about sex is just like any other difficult discussion you have with a partner, even though it might feel more fraught. As with any other disagreement, it's important to talk to each other like you're on the same team, rather than fighting your own side. "Take responsibility for your own behaviour — say, 'I know there are things I do that upset you, and there are things I’m upset with you about. Can we talk about this?'" Jane Greer, New York-based relationship expert and author of What About Me? Stop Selfishness From Ruining Your Relationship, previously told Refinery29.
Maybe you feel that your partner has stopped imitating sex, and that makes you feel less desirable. Your feelings are totally valid, but it won't help to yell and accuse your S.O. of cheating or ask if they don't love you anymore. Instead, use "we" statements and be clear about how you're feeling. You can say something like, "We don't have sex as much as we used to, and that makes me feel like you aren't attracted to me anymore." Stating it that way, without anger, gives your S.O. space to explain why they've stopped initiating sex — it might be that they're stressed or tired from work or they're having their own body image issues and feel less comfortable being intimate.
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The same format works with anything else you're missing from your sex life. If you want rougher sex, or softer sex, or are considering an open relationship; no matter what it is, the best way to talk about changing your sex life with your partner is to lay out your desires and ask if they'd be down.
If you do it right, you can even make the conversation sexy as hell. Having "the talk" about wanting to spice up your sex life doesn't have to be an awkward and stiff affair (and neither does asking for consent, fyi). A discussion about sexual desires can be seductive if you frame it correctly. Say something like, "'I was thinking of what it would be like if you just kissed me like [this] for a really long time. Could we try that?'" sex therapist Madeleine Castellanos, M.D., told Brides. "This helps you direct the action without your partner feeling criticized or put down."
So stop sweeping your sexual desires and disappointments under the rug, because nothing is going to get better unless you talk about it.
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