Even when everything else in the relationship is working, sexual styles aren’t always compatible. You like long foreplay sessions. Your partner is ready to go in an instant. You long for wet, sensual kisses. He prefers dry, chaste pecks. “Sex is not just naturally perfect,” Alman says. “There is the energy of a new relationship that is positive — the excitement and the eagerness and the passion. And the negative is that you bump noses or knees because you just haven’t learned how to dance together yet.”
But even long-term couples can struggle in the bedroom. Though we can easily tell our partner what shirt we’d like him to wear, or what we’d like to cook together for dinner, we tend to get tongue-tied when it comes to the topic of sex.
“People tend to be very sensitive when it comes to talking about sex,” says relationship and family therapist Rachel Sussman. “They’re afraid of hurting their partner’s feelings, so they don’t tell them what they like or don’t like. But you’re not going to get it unless you ask for it.”
So how do you tell your partner what you want without bruising his or her ego? “I think it’s really in how you bring up the statement,” Levkoff says. “‘I would love it if we…’ or, ‘Could we try this?’ You don’t want to make them feel bad about what they’ve done or haven’t done.”
You can have the conversation whenever and wherever it’s most comfortable for you. But before you talk, you need to know exactly what it is about your sex life that bothers you. Is it a question of technique? Personal hygiene? Timing? “Once you know what isn’t working for you,” Alman says, “there are things you can suggest that can mitigate those circumstances.”