Speak Up for Better Sex

Laura Gilbert

Despite all the pop songs, TV shows, and movies about sex that would have you believe otherwise, a lot of us (or so we hear) are having sex that is average, even boring. For young people, particularly young women, sex can be something of a challenge because they're still discovering what turns them on.

"One problem among people, particularly men, is that they learn about sex from watching porn," says Karen Gless, Ph.D., a marriage and family therapist in San Diego, CA. "In bed, they mimic the big, dramatic moves they see in porn films, but that's not necessarily what feels best for their partners," she says.

What's the solution? Well, talking about what turns you on can go a long way towards better sex. If your partner's technique leaves you less than thrilled, or if his or her attitude could use some adjusting, perhaps the two of you should be talking more and boinking less. But beware: criticism directed towards a partner who's naked, insecure, and doing his or her best can result in years of neurosis and sexual low self-esteem. Here's some advice on how to get your partner clued in without hurting his or her feelings.

Say What You Mean
Begin by telling your partner exactly what the problem is from your point of view. For example, "It's hard for me to get hot unless you spend some time touching my chest," or "I feel like I'm doing something wrong when you don't respond," are approaches that avoid the twin communication-killers of "you never" or "you always."

Ava Cadell, PhD., a clinical sexologist in Los Angeles, CA, suggests spending some time outside of the bedroom talking about your sex likes and dislikes. Talk about what you'd like to try, what makes you queasy, and even those kinky fantasies you've never shared with anyone. "You'll find out what one another likes and learn about what lines not to cross," says Cadell, the author of Confessions of a Sexologist (Peters, 1999).

Practice Aural Sex
If you're not the type of person who'd ever be comfortable giving your partner a laundry list of sexual requests ("First, stroke the back of my neck, and then..."), you can use your communication skills to drop some hints to your partner in a more subtle fashion.

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