When it comes to talking about sex, my partner and I grew up in two different households (which are possibly on two entirely different planets). In my house, sex was just another normalized human activity. I don’t mean that we were a naked house, and we didn’t rampantly bring up sex casually at like, 8 a.m. over coffee, but none of us have ever shied away from the topic. I still regularly discuss all manner of sex questions and topics with my mom, for example, and it’s super… casual.
My partner, though, had the opposite experience. Far from being something that you could easily discuss, sex was treated as if it just… didn’t exist. And it’s not like my partner’s family is very religious or particularly uptight, they just didn’t talk about sex, at all. To the point that if childbirth comes up, my in-laws have to dip out of the conversation because it means that somewhere, sex was involved.
We’re several years into our relationship now, and while my partner has opened up about sex privately (and is definitely not a prude when it comes to what happens within the wall of our home), it’s still a challenge to just sit down and have an open conversation about our likes, our dislikes, what we’re curious about, and so on and so forth (and you can FORGET even pretending like we could watch feminist porn together—I might never have sex again if I bring that possibility up).
A few years ago, APW hosted a giant conversation about talking about sex and it was great. In fact, it was pretty stellar, even. But a lot of the advice (example: make a private Tumblr where you both share sexy photos, or texting your partner illicit photos during the day) would never fly.
Since we’re in this for the long haul, and I enjoy talking about sex and want my partner to, also, I feel stuck.
How do you get your partner to open up about sex? What works when your partner can barely entertain the idea of talking about sex—and what doesn’t?