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July 11, 2024

How to get what you want in bed

Our resident sexologist, Jamie Bucirde, gives us a guide to sexual communication and satisfaction, delving into how to ask for what you want when you're feeling it.

  • Words: Jamie Bucirde
  • Picture: Claudia Dichiera
  • This article was produced in collaboration with Adult Bliss Erotica.

Sexual intelligence, in my opinion, is an aspect of ourselves we often neglect. It’s not entirely our fault; society, our educational system, and our culture have taught us that it’s not important. As a result, many of us struggle to ask for what we want in bed. But what if we learned how to ask openly, honestly, and confidently? We’d likely experience more satisfying sex, sex that we truly want.


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Understanding pleasure and communication

One key to achieving sexual satisfaction is understanding that pleasure doesn’t have to come at the expense of pain. Communication is not just about yes and no; it’s about exploring the nuances and complexities of your desires and boundaries.

Responses vs  a yes or no include:

  • I don’t feel like doing ‘X’  but I’d be up for ‘X’ instead
  • What exactly do you have in mind?
  • Maybe after we cuddle and kiss for a bit, we can come back to trying ‘X’
  • I might be into it, but I need to shower or get in the right headspace first
  • I would love to give you pleasure tonight but I’m not up for receiving. 

Identifying what you want

Before you can ask for what you want, you need to understand your own desires. Take some time to reflect on what you enjoy and what you’d like to explore. This might involve solo sex to discover how you reach orgasm or identifying different types of touch you prefer in various situations. We seem to live in a world where we expect our partners to read our minds, if we don’t know ourselves, how will they know?

Questions to discuss with your partner:

Open and honest conversations with your partner are crucial. I encourage you to start normalising having weekly conversations about sex. It shouldn’t be in the bedroom right before sex either – do it on a walk, in the shower or whilst getting coffee in a sex neutral space.  Here are some questions to get started:

  • What activities and conversations emotionally turn you on?
  • Do you have a secret fantasy you’ve never told me about?
  • What’s something you’d like to try together?
  • What’s incredible sex for you?
  • What’s bad sex for you?
  • What’s something that you love that I do?
  • What’s something you don’t like that I do?

The importance of relationship skills and building excellent communication skills

We need to become excellent communicators to express our needs effectively. THAT’S how we start getting what we want in bed. Communication isn’t just about speaking; it’s about 

Relationship skills are not innate; they need to be learned and practised in every new & existing relationship. These skills include:

  • Trust and honesty
  • Effective communication of needs and desires
  • Expressing and managing jealousy
  • Practising rigorous honesty in open relationships
  • listening and adapting to your partner’s needs and boundaries.

In open relationships, it’s also crucial to have rules and boundaries that are continuously updated and processed. This requires thoughtfulness and mutual respect.

Normalising conversations about sex

Talking about sex can feel personal and intimidating, especially if we’ve never seen it modelled within our family upbringing. It’s important to normalise these conversations and understand that some pushback might come from a fear of disappointing a partner. 

Prioritise growth and evolution in relationships

No relationship remains static; they are consistently growing and evolving. When relationships become stagnant, they can become less interesting and may lead to problems or breakdowns. It is natural and healthy for relationships to adapt overtime – we need to hold space for this and celebrate it as a positive. 

Exploring love languages

Discussing love languages can help align how you and your partner express and receive love. Ask each other:

  • What are your love languages?
  • How do you like to be touched? (eg sensual, hard, grabbing, slapping, spanking, tickling etc)
  • How do you feel the most loved?
  • When do you feel unloved?

Enhancing sexual literacy

Improving sexual literacy involves understanding your own sexual blueprint and how you like to be touched. Practising sexual communication might include phrases like:

  • “I love it when you touch me like this.”
  • “I’d love it if you touched me here.”
  • “When you kiss me here, that really turns me on.”
  • “I want to tell you about a fantasy I have, is that ok?”
  • “When you do this (X), it makes me feel (X) way.”
  • “Our sex life is great, but I’d love to explore (X) with you.”

Read the entire back catalogue of On the Cusp here.

Fantasies: Talk vs. action

Sometimes, the best part of a fantasy is sharing it with a partner. It doesn’t have to lead to acting it out unless both partners are comfortable. Creating a safe space for these discussions can relieve pressure and make the experience more enjoyable.

Upskilling your sexual literacy

Take time to explore your body and learn how you reach orgasm. Then, share this with your partner. Show them, instruct them, and be specific. Acting with confidence and creating an encouraging, non-judgmental environment will positively influence your partner. Showing interest in each other’s pleasure is key to sexual compatibility. This also includes:

  • Knowing the anatomy of your own and your partner’s bodies, including erogenous zones.
  • Understanding physiological responses during arousal and orgasm.
  • Discussing safe sex practices with your partner and getting tested regularly.
  • Being aware of how past experiences or trauma may impact current sexual behaviour and relationships.
  • Practising empathy and emotional support within sexual relationships.
  • Understanding the importance of enthusiastic, informed, and ongoing consent.

Communication tools to improve your relationship

Effective communication is the foundation of a satisfying sexual relationship. By understanding your own desires, openly discussing them with your partner, and continuously improving your communication skills, you can create a fulfilling and mutually satisfying sexual relationship. Remember, the most important script is the one you write together.

Asking for what you want in bed is a skill, and confidence takes time. Go easy on yourself, go easy on your partner and trust in the process! This is supposed to be fun, enjoy it.

Stay sexy, stay safe!

Jamie Bucirde has a postgraduate degree in sexology from Curtin University. Her advice is of a general nature and should be taken in the spirit of the column.

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