En español | I know men and women who don't like something their partner does in bed. Yet nary a peep do they utter about it. I also know men and women who do like — or imagine they would — something their partner isn't doing in bed. Again, never do they bring it up.
This explains why I'm constantly urging communication. When each person in a relationship feels free to reveal his or her specific desires, both partners' ideas for sexual corrections — or additions — can be voiced without jeopardizing the union. Some of these ideas will be agreed upon, put into regular practice or merely sampled once or twice. Others will never come close to being "sheet-tested." But the honesty of the exercise is likely to reinforce a couple's intimacy and love.
So … which maneuvers are people most afraid to talk about? Let's get real here.
1. Something they would like to change.
Typically this is something basic: You're not getting kissed the way you want to, or your partner is treating your body parts too roughly, or mashing you into the mattress.
If that describes your situation, you'll have to proceed gingerly. Take a quiet, nonsexual moment to say you'd really like to try a different kissing style, stroking motion or lovemaking position. Be careful how you phrase things. A few possibilities:
"Lately I've found myself fantasizing about deeper, harder kisses — could we try a few that way?"
"I'd like to try some new ways of balancing your weight."
Make it sound fun to try — something the two of you can innovate together. You may need to get clinically specific: "Put your hand right here … now apply a little less pressure … yes, that's it!" With a little nerve and a lot of encouragement, you can get exactly what you want in bed. Oh, and when you do? Show all kinds of appreciation: heightened arousal, green-light noises, grateful hugs and kisses.
2. Something they would like to sample.
Now we come to a trickier discussion. If a certain practice isn't happening, it's probably because your partner doesn't want to do it. The missing behavior could be anything, of course, but routinely it's either oral or anal sex. This will require asking your partner why he or she doesn't want to engage in the desired (by you) activity. Expect any of the following answers: It's painful; it's gross or degrading; I think it would be unpleasant for me; I'm just not that into it.
It's then incumbent on you to examine — and possibly counter — these objections. Some examples: "What if we both took a bath first and went to bed squeaky-clean? What if we read this book about the custom to see if it changes the way you view it? (It might be more pleasurable if we both know how to do it right.) What about watching this X-rated movie to see if it looks sexier after that? What could I do to make it sexier for you?"
Often there is some give in a person's take on a taboo topic. If you can figure out a way to make the desired behavior exciting for both of you, exploration — or perhaps simply a shot at trying it again — becomes feasible.
3. Something they've never confessed.
Odds are there's a certain practice you or your partner would like to try. But you've always deemed it too far over the line, so you've never brought it up. A healthy relationship should be able to audition unusual ideas, even if they never make it onto reality's stage. Customary behaviors in this category include S&M, the use of sex toys, role playing, threesomes and paraphilias (fetishes such as wearing opposite-gender clothing, or rubber, vinyl or leather apparel).
Without question, many of these practices entail asking a lot of your partner. Still, you'd be surprised how common such fantasies are. Though Fifty Shades of Grey is fiction, many couples do in fact integrate "S&M lite" into their bedtime routine once one partner sincerely requests it. This might include being tied to the bed, being spanked, playing a submissive or dominant role in the bedroom, and any number of additional shades.
Gender-bending play (such as wearing clothes of the opposite sex) or nonmonogamous acts (such as bringing a third person to bed with the two of you) are unacceptable to most people. At the same time, flirting with these fantasies — watching an X-rated video that features a ménage-à-trois, for example — may make you feel more intimate, not less. You've already bared your body and your soul to your partner; if your relationship is solid and trusting, you should now be able to bare your thoughts.
Note: Some fantasies need to stay just that; no one should be pressured into doing something about which he or she has strong ethical reservations. But understanding one another's psyche can be very loving — and very sexy.