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February 8, 2024

How to talk about rough sex with your partner

Our qualified sexologist Jamie Bucirde answers your questions on love, sex and relationships each fortnight. This week, she gives advice on rough sex and finding your erotic blueprint.

on the cusp sex in Adelaide column
  • Words: Jamie Bucirde
  • Picture: Morgan Sette

Hey CityMag readers,

Your resident Sexologist here to discuss an incredibly important theme about sex and relationships this week. That theme is rough sex and how to find your erotic blueprint.


Have you got sexual health, sex, love or relationship questions? Send them to to have them answered.

We need to discuss rough sex, and more importantly, why rough sex keeps happening when it’s not enjoyable for both (or all) parties involved. Consent and communication are vital in healthy sexual wellbeing. This is your reminder to check in with your partner before you choke them, ask them if the sex you’re having is too rough and to critically reflect on why you think sex is supposed to be rough in the first place.

Have you heard about the erotic blueprint quiz? The quiz that can tell you what type of sex you enjoy and what type your partner enjoys. Haven’t heard of it? Keep reading.


Hi Jamie,

This is a bit of a multilayered problem I’m hoping you can help with. My partner and I have rough sex. It’s fun but I’ve started noticing recently that I’m not actually enjoying it much. It’s not painful and I do want to be having sex, I’m just not feeling much; It feels neutral. How do I explore what makes me feel good? I’ve never had an orgasm, even by myself (and I’ve tried). Because I’m vocal in bed, my partner thinks everything is great, and I feel like I’m lying to him even though my noises are uncontrollable/coming naturally. He knows what he likes and tells me, but idk what I like, so I can’t tell him what to do. He tries to please me by focusing on my clit but it’s too overwhelming and I pull away. When it comes to my own pleasure, I don’t know where to start.

TLDR: sex is fun to take part in but I’m not experiencing pleasure and I don’t know what to do about it.


Read the entire back catalogue of On the Cusp here.


Hi reader! Thank you so much for reaching out to me about this – this is an incredibly important question and one we should all be talking about. I’m going to break your question down into a few key themes.


Firstly, you should never be having sex that you don’t enjoy. If you’re engaging in rough sex that doesn’t feel good to you, you should feel comfortable to say no. Consent is an enthusiastic yes, free from coercion and can be retracted at any point. That means if it doesn’t feel right, that’s enough of a reason to not have it. No explanation needed.

Unfortunately, rough sex is extremely common. 

A content analysis of the most used pornographic websites found that 88 per cent of the scenes depicted physical violence, such as spanking, gagging and slapping. Verbal aggression was present in 48 per cent of the scenes, featuring behaviour like insulting, threatening and the use of coercive language. Additionally, a striking 94 per cent of the aggressive scenes portrayed women as the targets of such aggression. When pairing that with the stat that approximately 87 per cent of men report watching porn monthly and 58 per cent of men watch porn weekly, we can draw parallels to the normalisation of violence and rough sex. 

Coming back to you, it is important you enjoy sex with your partner. Sex is about mutual pleasure and if you don’t like it rough, you have the right to say no.


It’s important you tell your partner that you’re not enjoying the rough sex you’re having and that you’d like to explore other types of sex. The exciting part of having a sexual partner is that you can explore different types of sex together. I would recommend having the conversation in a safe environment when you’re not both naked in bed. Go for a walk, or sit on the couch with a cup of tea – it doesn’t need to feel scary. Oh, and making noises during sex even if you’re not having an orgasm is normal and I support it! Making noises during sex is liberating, freeing and primitive.

Your pleasure:

Have you thought about what turns you on? There was no one-size-fits-all approach to arousal. What turns your partner on obviously isn’t turning you on, which is normal.

I’d recommend taking the erotic blueprint quiz created by somatic Sexologist Jaiya – which tells you what arouses you. This quiz will tell you if you’re:

  • The sensual type – turned on by all of their senses being ignited
  • The energetic type – turned on by anticipation, space, tease, longing, yearning
  • The kinky type –  turned on by the taboo
  • The sexual type – turned on by what we think of as sex in our culture
  • The shapeshifter type –  turned on by everything the sensual, sexual, kinky, and energetic types are turned on by

Another thing to keep in mind is that there’s two different responses for sexual desire, responsive desire and spontaneous desire.

Responsive desire means it’s normal for you to not feel desire until several minutes (at least) of foreplay. Spontaneous desire means you don’t require much intimacy or affection leading up to feeling turned on.

On top of that, a study on the orgasm gap by Dr Karen Gurney and author of Mind the Gap found that men orgasm 96 per cent of the time in masturbation and 96 per cent of the time during sex with women, whereas women orgasm 96 per cent of the time when masturbating and only 8 per cent of the time in sex with men — that’s a huge gap.

The official diagnosis of not being able to orgasm according to The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM 5) is called anorgasmia – women who have delayed, infrequent or absent orgasms and feel significant stress about it. There are many factors that may explain anorgasmia including:

  • being on SSRI antidepressants
  • growing up in a sex negative household and associating sex with shame or guilt
  • experiencing sexual violence
  • lack of sexual education on female anatomy and female pleasure

Figuring out what feels good is a journey, and you can check out what I have advised before here.

Once you discover what you like, you can start communicating that with your partner. It’s important your partner understands the orgasm gap and is willing to go on this journey with you. When talking to your partner about what you want use language like:

  • It feels good to me when you touch me here
  • I like it when you go softer or harder or faster
  • I like it when you kiss my neck, ear, inner thigh, vulva lips 

Be descriptive with your partner and focus on going slower first. Don’t be upset if it doesn’t happen the first time, or the first dozen times. If, in a few months of trying, you still can’t reach orgasm by yourself, you may need further support and I would recommend seeing a qualified sexologist to help reach your goals.

Good luck on your sexual journey of pleasure reader and I wish you a lifetime of orgasms.

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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