As a sex therapist, I get a lot of questions.
One of them is how to increase sex drive, and my answer might not be what you think it’ll be; part of the secret is learning to communicate effectively in your relationship.
Communication can seem like an odd solution, as a lot of us believe sex drive is a basic hormonal urge.
But this is the old way of viewing libido. And it’s one that offers little hope to those who have low libido or feel like their desire for sex is long gone.
Sex drive isn’t something that either exists or doesn’t. It’s more of an emotion that can be sparked or suffocated, depending on what’s going on around us, within us, and between us. One of these things is communication and learning how to talk about sex.
Why communication is key
Libido is complicated because it depends on so much more than our biology. It’s also affected by:
>> Psychological factors, like mood and anxiety
>> Relationship factors, like conflicts and irritation
>> And, even cultural factors, such as the beliefs we have about gender and sex
Because our actions and reactions to our partners can have such a large effect on our sex drive, it’s important to change relationship behaviours if we want to increase libido.
One way of doing this is by improving the ways we communicate with one another.
Why it’s important to talk about sex
When you know the ways of improving communication in relationships, you can leverage the skills in both your day to day communication, as well as in your sexual communication.
These skills are an essential part of what makes a good sex life. In fact, research shows that couples who communicate about sex are more satisfied sexually.
As a sex therapist, I talk about communicating about sex all day, every day, no matter what the presenting sexual difficulty is. The thing is, even if I talk about it all the time, I know a lot of people don’t want to talk about sex.
Even just thinking about doing it can feel:
From a young age, we’re taught that satisfying sex, just like our sex drive, happens spontaneously. That if we’re really in love, or we’ve found “the one,” that sex will be amazing. Perhaps most importantly, we’re led to believe that the sex will be constant, no matter how long we’re together or married.
Not only is this not true, most of the time, it’s also a cultural ideal that sort of ensures unsatisfying sex and low libido in long relationships.
If you don’t know what your partner desires or if you don’t know how to fuel your own fire—you more easily fall prey to low libido and unfulfilling sex.
Not always wanting to sleep with your partner or masturbate doesn’t have to be a bad thing. However, if you have no idea how to kick-start your libido or feel like you have no say in whether you feel like sex or not, this can turn low sex drive into a harrowing problem.
It can take a toll on your self-esteem and self-confidence, making you feel like there’s something missing. Some of my clients even refer to their loss of an appetite for sex as feeling dead inside.
By learning to communicate effectively in your relationship about sex, you can take ownership of your sexuality and get your sex drive back. It really is possible.
How to talk about sex
There are lots of ways to communicate about sex. But before you delve into what to talk about when discussing sex with your partner and how to do it, it’s good to learn about one important way to make the conversation about sex a little less awkward.
Address the awkwardness.
It might sound a little too simple. When things are difficult, we tend to go on the prowl for a complicated solution because we feel the easy route doesn’t match the complexity of the issue. But when it comes to talking about sexual preferences and dislikes—it really can be this simple.
When you bring up the topic of sex, let your partner know how it makes you feel: awkward, ashamed, silly. By putting your feelings into words, you’re helping yourself process the emotions, and this is the only way of moving through the feeling and letting it pass.
Getting rid of negative feelings is something we all would like to do, but we can’t, and more importantly, we shouldn’t try to. Because when we do, the feeling tends to grow and expand, and stays with us for longer.
By addressing how awkward the conversation is, you’re allowing yourself to feel the emotion, but also, to move through it and let it go.
You’re also inviting your partner to share your emotion and validate you.
Awkwardness around sex often has its roots buried in shame. Sexual shame is unfortunately common and has a lot to do with preconceived ideas about how we think we should feel, what we should get turned on by, and how sex should be.
When we feel shame about sex, our partner’s support means everything. And this is where learning to talk about sex is so important.
Because even if your partner finds the topic of sex awkward too, talking about it and connecting through the emotion will help you both feel better about the conversation in the long run.
Low sex drive is normal—but this doesn’t mean you’re stuck with it. If you want to, you can work on getting your libido back and getting more intimate. One way of doing this is learning to talk about sex.
It might be a little awkward at first, but it’s the best way to create the relationship and sex life that you want.