At this point, everyone knows they should be comfortable talking to their partner about sex, especially if they’re married or otherwise in a long-term committed relationship. The truth is, though, that it’s often easier to want to do it than it is to open your mouth and start a real conversation.

Some people are shy or were brought up to see sex as something you never talk about. Others just aren’t sure how to get started or bring up something difficult. But thankfully, making sex a regular conversation topic between you and your partner is definitely possible with a bit of practice and the right approach. Here’s how you can start the process.

Don’t leave talking about sex up to your partner.

Many people who want to talk to their partner about sex simply assume that their partners are on the same page. They then take a passive approach to the topic and wait for the other person to bring it up so they don’t have to. Your partner can’t read your mind in actuality, and they may well not realize you want to be more open about sex.

Even if it’s hard, it’s essential to be brave enough to start the conversation yourself. Of course, it’s best to establish a habit of talking about sex early on in a relationship, but it’s also important to realize that it’s never too late to start. Remember that you don’t have to leap headfirst into graphic discussions about your most taboo fetishes right off the bat. Start with something more approachable like consent or birth control, and take it from there.

Know what you want out of the conversation.

Before you can open a productive dialogue about sex, it’s important to be clear on what you want to come of it. That means knowing yourself and understanding yourself sexually. What triggered the desire to open up a discussion? Is there something you’re not getting from your partner that you’d like to ask for? Are you hoping to build intimacy with your partner?

Take some time to really think about what you’d like to go over when you do sit down to talk. Possible talking points include ways your sex life might not be as satisfying for you as you’d like it to be. You may want to talk about your fantasies or hear your partner talk about theirs. Maybe there’s a physical issue you’d like to talk about. Write it down beforehand if it makes it easier to get clear on a few things.

Keep things as positive as possible.

Many of the reasons people want to talk to their partner about sex have to do with wanting to pursue something they need but aren’t getting. That can make it all too easy to come at the topic from a negative angle that can put their partner on the defensive. Instead, you want to lead with a positive and be sensitive to your partner’s feelings. Think about how you’d like your partner to approach you if the shoe were on the other foot.

  • If you need to discuss something that may be taken as a criticism, open by commenting on something you adore about how your partner makes love.
  • Make “I” statements, as opposed to “you” ones. For example, say “I’d love to try this with you,” as opposed to “you never do this.” It helps avoid the implication that you blame your partner for what’s wrong.
  • Be kind, but be clear, as well. You won’t make any progress if you don’t make yourself understood.

Bring your partner in on the discussion.

Although it’s important to address whatever your concerns or desires may be, don’t forget that conversations involve two people and two points of view. Yes, you should talk, but you’ll want to listen, as well. Really listen, instead of simply thinking about what you want to say next while your partner is talking.

Then ask questions to get a better idea of where your partner is coming from. Encourage them to ask you any questions they might have, as well. The more sensitive the topic, the more critical it becomes that both of you actively listen to one another.

Take responsibility for your own sexual pleasure.

Many bedroom issues, performance anxiety included, stem from the notion that an orgasm is something you give your partner (or vice versa.) In reality, your pleasure is something you’re responsible for and choosing to share with your partner.

In the interests of knowing yourselves better, each of you should be spending some solo time where you focus solely on yourselves. Experiment with sex toys, learn what you like, and then come back together to discuss your discoveries. Don’t worry if it feels a little awkward at first. In time, it will become much more natural. Practice makes perfect!