A Sex Therapist Explains How To Nicely Tell Your Partner To Step It Up In Bed

Orgasms are not the most important part of sex, but they are a lot of fun. So if you're someone who can typically achieve an orgasm but you aren't having them with your partner, it can be a real bummer. Here's the good news: Most of the time, that situation can be fixed with some communication (~cum-munication~) with your partner. If you've been avoiding saying anything about not having orgasms, here's how to tell your partner so it won't hurt their feelings — because, let's be honest, no one loves to hear they aren’t exactly putting it down in the bedroom. That being said, you deserve to be living your best and most fulfilling sex life, and it's worth having a conversation with your partner to help you get there.

So, to help navigate these potentially sensitive waters, I reached out to experts Kristin Marie Bennion, licensed mental health therapist and certified sex therapist, and certified sex therapist Sarah Watson for their takes on how to address this (very common!) problem. Here are their suggestions for preparing for, broaching, and handling the conversation in a way that is constructive and will help ensure your partner knows it's time to step it up in bed — the nice way.

Figure out what works best for you on your own.

Before you can even address the issue with your partner, the first step is to figure out what it is you need in order to orgasm. What techniques and tools are going to get you where you want to go? These are going to be important things to know when it comes time to have the conversation with your SO, says Watson.

“Do some individual work and try to understand what's happening, remembering that orgasm isn't the end all, be all," Watson tells Elite Daily. "Are you having an orgasm when you masturbate? How about when receiving oral stimulation? With a toy? If the answer is yes to those questions, what is it about partnered penetration that isn't working for you?”

That way, when you do express how you're feeling to your partner, you can give them concrete and constructive information (rather than just generally saying you’re unhappy) that, although it might put them on the defensive, also make it more likely for you to achieve what you're hoping for, aka better sex.

Talk to your your partner about what you need.

Once you have a clearer picture of what gets you off and what changes you’d like your SO to make in bed, you’re ready to have the conversation. Now it's just all about your approach. If your partner is someone who will be more receptive to a gentle approach, Watson suggests telling your partner you have something you’d like to “figure out with them,” so they feel like they are part of the solution and more open to hearing what you have to say. Then, she suggests sharing “what your experience is, owning your own feelings and not blaming. Talk about what feels good with your partner.”

Inevitably, some partners may feel like they're letting you down, or they'll feel disappointed in themselves. In that case, Bennion says reminding them that, “It is very common for people to have a different experience with orgasm when they are with a partner versus experiencing orgasm solo.” It’s not a matter of failure, so much as just figuring out what to incorporate from your solo experiences into your partnered ones.

She also says, in some cases, it's better to just get directly to the point in order to combat some common sexual misconceptions. “So many are still operating under misinformation about sexuality, including a belief that orgasming with a partner is the ‘right’ way to orgasm and it ‘should’ be easy," she tells Elite Daily, adding "It could be a good idea to remind your partner that it's very common to have a different experience when someone is with a partner, and that you'd like to discover how to enjoy orgasming when you are together.” By letting your partner know that you realize it's a common problem, rather than a “them” problem, it can help soften the news that you’re not getting off, and help them realize it's an issue that can be solved with teamwork.

Offer some some suggestions of things you would like to try.

Once you’ve let them know that you really need them to step it up — in the nicest and most loving way possible — it's time for a game plan. Bennion says to make note of “specific things you'd like to incorporate into your partnered sex play.” For example, “Some of the most common suggestions that many people with female bodies enjoy are more foreplay to increase erotic tension and arousal and incorporating pleasure-enhancing tools like vibrators and lubrication,” she says.

But she also suggests working on changing your frame of mind: “Worrying about whether or not one is going to orgasm or not, or if they are trying to hurry the experience, only adds to difficulty in reaching orgasm; so, no matter what, it is helpful to switch one's mindset to one that is pleasure-oriented versus strictly goal-oriented.”

The most important thing is to keep those lines of communication open. Speak up when something feels good — or doesn’t. That’s the only way that the two of you will learn together what great sex means for both of you. But perhaps Watson says it best: “Be vulnerable, be open. Be curious together.”

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