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6 ways to talk to your partner if you're not satisfied with your sex life

INSIDER logoINSIDER 4/11/2019 Lauren Schumacker
a person sitting on a couch © The Gender Spectrum Collection


  • Sometimes it can be difficult to talk about you and your partner's sex life, especially if you are feeling unsatisfied.
  • Fortunately, there are some ways you can broach this particular topic of conversation in a reasonable and kind way.
  • Some tips for talking about your sex life with your partner include allowing your partner to prepare for the conversation, keeping an open mind, and asking your partner about their sexual preferences while also sharing your own.
  • Visit INSIDER.com for more stories.

Talking about being unsatisfied with your sex life can be daunting. Fortunately, doing so in a way that is both kind and productive is possible - you just have to know how to approach the subject.

Here are some tips for talking to your partner about your sex life if you aren't feeling satisfied.

Go into the conversation with an open mind

"Sexual preferences are as unique as the individual," Bianca L. Rodriguez, a licensed marriage and family therapist, told INSIDER.

"There's no wrong way to express your sexuality, provided you have consent from your partner(s)," she added. "Knowing this can make it easier to talk with your partner about your sex life because it can diminish judgments you may have about your partner or yourself."

Practice visualizing the conversation and anticipating your partner's reaction

Before talking to your partner about how you are feeling unsatisfied with your sex life, try visualizing how the conversation might go. This can help you to figure out what you want to say and how your partner may react to the discussion.

"It's great to set the stage and anticipate any negative emotions," Dr. Rebekah Montgomery, a licensed psychologist, told INSIDER.

You may also want to bring up the idea of having a conversation about your sex life before you actually do it

"This is helpful as you don't want your partner to be blindsided. [This] gives them a chance to prepare for the conversation and you get to be sure that they are in a receptive head space when you start opening up," said Dr. Montgomery.

"You might say things like, 'I want to talk more about sex and I know that can be hard.' Or 'I feel nervous but I want us to be able to talk about our sex life, are you open to talking about it?'" she added.

Take note of the way you phrase your statements and frame your thoughts

a man and a woman sitting on a bench: 
  Having a healthy and
  non-combative conversation with the friends and family of your ex
  may not be the easiest thing to do, but it could be the most
  beneficial. Especially if your goal is to continue to have a
  relationship with them whether or not you two are able to
  rekindle your romance.

  "Communicate openly with friends
  and family of your ex about your relationship expectations with
  them," she said. "This includes how much of your life you're
  comfortable with them sharing with your ex, how much of your ex's
  life you want to hear about, if you want to have a close
  relationship or if you need a break initially to move on from the
  breakup."
© Ebtikar / Shutterstock

Having a healthy and non-combative conversation with the friends and family of your ex may not be the easiest thing to do, but it could be the most beneficial. Especially if your goal is to continue to have a relationship with them whether or not you two are able to rekindle your romance.

"Communicate openly with friends and family of your ex about your relationship expectations with them," she said. "This includes how much of your life you're comfortable with them sharing with your ex, how much of your ex's life you want to hear about, if you want to have a close relationship or if you need a break initially to move on from the breakup."

When you actually begin the conversation, it's important to be cognizant of how you're speaking to your partner, how you're expressing yourself, and how you're framing the conversation.

Heidi McBain, MA, LPC, PMH-C, a licensed marriage and family therapist, said she recommends using "I statements" as a way to take ownership over how you're feeling and what you're saying without making it sound like you're simply criticizing or attacking your partner.

If you want to take it a step further, Dr. Laura Dabney, a relationship psychiatrist, said she recommends pairing "I statements" with how you feel about specific actions in order to clearly illustrate cause and effect.

"The one biggest piece of advice I can give when it comes to telling your partner you are not satisfied with your sex life is using an 'I feel X when you do Y' statement," Dabney told INSIDER. "What I mean by this is to not criticize them but to explain how you feel because of the sex life or situation."

You may want to try asking your partner about their sexual preferences and desires while also sharing your own

"Approaching the conversation with a spirit of curiosity can lower defenses so that you can both openly share your desires," Rodriguez told INSIDER.

To facilitate a productive conversation, Dr. Montgomery said she suggests that you both focus on asking open-ended questions, which will give you more information than basic yes-or-no questions.

"You want it to be an open dialogue about sex rather than a personal critique of your partner," Dr. Montgomery said. "Be sure to frame what you want to be different in the context of something positive ... This is helpful because it's easier for someone to hear something you want them to do versus not do."

Read More: 7 G-spot myths you need to stop believing

Remember that it's OK to feel nervous and it's OK to seek out professional help

a man standing in front of a body of water © iStock

"If you feel nervous or something feels scary to say, just say that aloud," Dr. Montgomery told INSIDER. "It's like popping the tension in the room when we just name what's going on. No one has a perfect sex life and talking about what you want is the best step for building a healthy sex life."

And if you are still struggling to communicate, you may want to consider seeking a bit of help from the professionals. "Couples counseling can be a great place to talk out some of your differences in a safe and secure place," added McBain.

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