Ever found yourself wanting more in bed? Sex educator Cassandra Corrado shares 6 proven strategies.
You’re lying in bed next to someone and they roll over to ask you how it was. “It was great” you lie, maybe giving them a kiss to make it seem more real. In reality, your rendezvous fell flat of your expectations.
Here’s the thing: If you don’t communicate your sexual wants to your partner (and you’re lying about what is fulfilling) then they can’t be expectations. They’re just wishes.
We’re rarely taught how to ask for what we want in bed. In movies, sex happens spontaneously — two people who are so turned on by each other’s presence, they have firework-inducing orgasms without ever telling each other what they want. In porn, you usually hop right into the scene without seeing the conversation that happened ahead of time. In sex ed, you were probably taught how to use a condom and how to “just say no”, but you probably weren’t taught how to have a real conversation about sex.
So it makes sense that a lot of us are pretty bad at asking for what we want in the sack.
Advocating for yourself is something that takes practice, whether it’s asking for a raise at work or teaching your partner how to help you reach an orgasm. You might know exactly what you want, but if you haven’t practiced asking for it before, then you’re probably not getting it.
So, here are six strategies that can help you ask for what you want in bed (without wanting to crawl under the covers and hide there forever).
Do a confidence audit
You might not feel confident talking about your desires in the bedroom, but that doesn’t mean you’re an unconfident person. You might have high levels of professional confidence (you kick ass at work and know it), high levels of self-confidence (you’re pretty cool with who you are as a person and you know what your strengths and weaknesses are), or maybe you have high levels of relationship confidence (you know how to advocate for yourself in a variety of relationship types).
So, do a confidence audit. Think about the realms of your life where you feel truly confident. What helps you feel that way? Is it your skill level, your support system, the feedback you’ve received, or something else entirely? Take note — that’s the context that helps you exist in a confident mindset. Now apply that same analysis to areas of your life where you feel unconfident. Why don’t you feel confident? Do you have a helpful support system? Do you get regular feedback? Do you have a history of trauma that’s related to this area?
Doing a confidence audit is basically like doing a SWOT analysis on yourself — it helps you understand where you’re strong, where you can improve, and what your opportunities for growth are. Plus, knowing the things that help feed your confidence in one realm can help you nurture your confidence in another — like talking about what you want in bed.
Talk about sex with your friends
Sex talk isn’t just for your sexual partners. If you’re having a hard time talking to your partner about your sex life, your friends have probably experienced something similar. Even if they haven’t, participating in more open, casual conversations about sex and sexual pleasure can be a lower-risk way (emotionally) of talking about what you’re into.
It’s like a practice ground for a more intense, private conversation with your partner. Just make sure you figure out how much you’re comfortable sharing — especially with that one especially judgmental friend in the group.
If you don’t have friends who you feel like you can talk about sex with, skim your mental inventory and see if there’s anyone who you could. Maybe it’s your doctor or therapist, or maybe it’s your mom. The key is to create a space where you can talk about sex in a normalizing environment, rather than a stigmatizing one.
Start out of the bedroom
If you’re someone who doesn’t feel confident voicing your desires in the bedroom, then start with something basic: changing the setting. Talking about sex in the moment is important, but if you’re talking big picture desires, boundaries, and curiosities, it’s better to have that conversation with your clothes on.
Stripping down often makes us feel more vulnerable, and when we’re feeling vulnerable, we’re less likely to listen closely, advocate for our desires, and respond the way that we want to. Plus, talking about desire in the moment can lead to someone saying “yes” to something that they’re actually uncertain about because they feel pressure to respond right then.
So, take the conversation out of the bedroom. Make a cup of tea or pour a glass of wine and plan a “sex talk” date with your partner(s). Make it cozy and sensual — you’re designing the space to feel safe and open, just like the conversation itself.
Take a sex survey
Use a quiz or yes/no/maybe lists to create a playful atmosphere. Online tools like MojoUpgrade and We Should Try It have surveys where you can mark your sexual interests as yes, no, or maybe, and your partner can do the same. You do the quizzes separately and receive an email sharing the results of only the things you matched positively on.