Better intimacy starts with better communication skills.
By Leigh Norén — Last updated on Jul 04, 2023
What makes great intimacy? Lots of stuff.
For some, it’s about the gadgets — sex toys, lube, and lingerie all keep the spark alive. But, for others, great sex is about healthy relationship communication skills.
Being able to truly hear your partner and validate one another is paramount to a relationship that survives the test of time. And this is true of sex, too.
If you want to improve your love and sex life, good communication skills will help you get there.
Here are 4 “golden rules” for better intimacy in your relationship:
1. Be curious
If you’ve been together for years, it’s easy to feel like you know your partner inside out. And in some ways, you do. You know they love a good “3 for 2” deal at the supermarket and that they prefer starters to desserts.
But thinking that you know it all is dangerous.
If you always opt for anticipating your partner’s feelings and reactions rather than inquiring about them, you remove all curiosity.
And when you stop being curious about your partner and their inner world, open communication dies — and so do the sparks in the bedroom.
This is why you need to embrace curiosity. When you can take an open and curious stance toward your partner, your relationship becomes more satisfying, and so does your sex life.
Instead of assuming your partner wants a particular position, only likes sex in the dark, or wants a certain amount of pressure to experience pleasure, try asking them what they want.
This way, you naturally increase novelty in the bedroom. And with more novelty, usually comes more desire and passion. A win-win.
2. Be vulnerable
For curiosity to thrive — both in and out of the bedroom — you need to be open to vulnerability. In fact, being vulnerable is one of the most important communication skills to hone.
Vulnerability is letting your partner know your thoughts and feelings, even when it’s scary. It’s being able to connect and show your partner your true self, even if you’re ashamed.
It’s letting them in and allowing them to see you, hear you, and validate you — all of you.
Vulnerability is one of the greatest ways of getting even closer to your partner. And when you practice it in the day-to-day — it can boost your love life tremendously.
Being vulnerable during sex means many things to different people.
For some, it’s about allowing your partner to see all of you, naked. And when you take in your partner’s appreciation, it enhances your desire and pleasure.
For others, it’s about showing your partner how you best experience pleasure or sharing your fantasies with them. This, in turn, can increase emotional intimacy, which can make you want to be intimate more often.
3. Be non-judgmental
Part of what makes vulnerability difficult is the fear of being judged. This is why it’s so important to think before you react.
Granted, no one is perfect and everyone makes mistakes, but responding to your partner with respect, not judgment, is worth working on.
Even if you don’t share the same thoughts or feelings about particular subjects — think of how you’d like to be treated by your partner if the situation was reversed — and do exactly that.
The more non-judgmental you can be about your partner’s dreams, aspirations, and fears, the better sex you can have.
When it comes to sex, there are many invisible norms and guidelines that you may feel compelled to adhere to. This can make your relationship with sex difficult, as sexuality isn’t always in alignment with general values or morals.
And this can make sharing these fantasies or desires with your partner scary.
For example, some people get turned on by the idea of dominating someone, and others by the idea of being dominated. This doesn’t mean they want this uneven power dynamic to be a constant in their lives.
But it’s what makes for good sex for them.
In order to have a great sex life, practicing non-judgmental reactions to your partner’s turn-ons is a great way to get there.
This doesn’t mean you have to be game for whatever your partner likes. But it does involve validation, even if you don’t share all of the same sexual preferences. And sometimes, this validation alone is enough.
4. Validate your partner
Validation is an important part of every relationship or marriage. Everyone has a deep desire to be seen and loved for who they truly are. When your partner validates you, you feel it, deeply.
Validation can occur in many different ways — through touch when you’re upset, eye contact as you share a difficult story or verbal compliments. And this validation happens during sex, too.
When you get good at confirming your partner in the day-to-day, it comes easily during sex. For some, validation during sex is about the mere act itself.
Just by giving yourself to one another and experiencing pleasure together, you both feel validated.
For others, the validation is about your partner’s willingness to try something new with you, sexually. Or about their eagerness to help you if you’re experiencing difficulty having an orgasm.
When you learn how your partner wants to be validated and make a conscious effort to make it happen on a daily — you’ll see your relationship and love life blossom.
Sex is about so many things and healthy communication is the key.
If you want to improve your sex life, doubling down on healthy relationship communication skills is a great way of getting there.
By practicing curiosity about your partner, daring to be vulnerable, reacting in non-judgmental ways, and validating each other’s experiences and feelings, you’ll find these traits trickle into your sex life.
In turn, this will make it one you desire to engage in, again and again, no matter how long you’ve been together.
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Leigh Norén is a sex therapist, and writer, who has a Master of Science in Sexology, and a degree in Social Work, with over 11 years of experience. She’s been featured in Women’s Health, Thrive Global, The Good Men Project, Elephant Journal, Glamour, and more.
This article was originally published at Leigh Noren. Reprinted with permission from the author.