Good verbal communication is an important component of intimate sex. Talking openly about sex enables you and your partner to learn about each other’s sexual likes and dislikes, effectively address differences in preferences and needs, explore new sexual activities, and resolve any problems that might arise. Communication is the most effective way to ensure sexual relating will be mutually enjoyable and not result in a nega­tive consequence or hurt feelings. It’s no wonder that couples who can talk comfortably about sex report the highest levels of satisfaction with their sexual lives.

But talking about sex isn’t easy, especially when porn has provided the model for sexual relating. In porn, people don’t communicate forthrightly about sex. No one in porn ever says, “Slow down, I need more time to get in the mood,” or “That’s uncomfortable. I’d like it better if you touch me in a different way.” No one asks, “Do you have protection?” or “Would you be open to trying this?” And no one ever addresses significant sexual realities such as being sexually abused as a child. Porn can create the false impression that serious talking about sex isn’t necessary.

Becoming comfortable communicating about sex takes conscious effort and practice. There are many resources that can help you learn more effective sexual communication skills, and we’ve listed some of our favorites in the Resources section at the back of this book. In general, you and your partner will benefit by creating a climate for sexual discussions in which you both feel respected, safe, and encouraged to talk about sexual needs and concerns.

There are many important sexual topics for intimate partners to dis­cuss in order to create and maintain a mutually rewarding intimacy. The questions listed on the next page can get you started in your discussions.

Because it is best to discuss these issues thoroughly, we recommend choosing one or two questions to focus on at a time.