Saturday, June 22, 2024

Open up for that ‘O’

An equation for you: Sex minus open communication equals what?

You guessed it: bad sex.

To say I’ve been in a couple awkward or uncomfortable sexual situations because of the lack of an open conversation would be an understatement.

I remember when a casual partner decided to dive into the BDSM waters without my consent, and I was consumed by miserable aches the next day because of my debilitating hesitance in picking a safe word.

It was probably a good idea to verbally voice my nay when an ex-boyfriend hadn’t cut his fingernails in a while and was quite eager to explore down south.

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An honest and non-judgmental conversation is what I was looking for in my past sexual encounters, but I hadn’t known where to start. Was I supposed to have a formal dinner and just bring up how, no, I didn’t exactly relish how he tweaked and pushed as if my body were an audio mixer? Was I supposed to shout an affirmative “No!” during sex if I felt the slightest bit of discomfort?

Sex and having an open conversation about sex are still both socially taboo, and that is absolutely ridiculous. I can’t imagine the countless couples out there purposely choosing to suffer and feel unheard during sex rather than just pause and say, “Hey, I actually don’t like when you tickle me there” and politely guide the person to the right spot.

The very idea of talking about sex sounded impossible, but it was better than feeling lost in the sheets.

When my boyfriend first brought up what he liked during sex, I thought it was the weirdest thing. I found myself blushing at the thought of actively talking about our sexual experience. I naively assumed I was an open book and he’d just understand me and know what to do so I could feel like I was an active participant during sex.

Despite his aloofness to this open conversation about our sex lives, I was still reluctant to engage in the dialogue.

“We recognize that anything personal we say about sex has the potential to stir, scare, offend, and unsettle those who are closest to us,” wrote Noam Shpancer, Ph.D., in a 2014 Psychology Today article. “Perhaps worse still, we sense that saying the wrong thing about our own sexual tastes or assumptions has the potential to unmask us as foolish, ignorant, or depraved.”

This makes sense. I was aware that I wanted to be comfortable with an open conversation, but I was also acutely aware of my satisfaction with the silence. And I realized that I was embarrassed. What if he didn’t like my suggestions? What if he hurt my feelings by voicing his opinion on a move I thought was the best thing I’ve done?

But what if we both stayed in the dark, being absurdly abashed and quiet about everything, enduring things we didn’t feel comfortable with and too shy to speak up and voice our real desires?

Communicating with your partner about what really gets you going, what he or she doesn’t like and what you both are open to experimenting with can just make the entire experience so much better. No more pretending that you’ve reached the big “O” or you actually hate it when he asks you to role play.

Email Reggianie Francois at

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