“I don’t like this thing we do during sex. How do I tell my partner?”

How to explain you’re ready for a change in the bedroom.

Sometimes, a minor difference in sexual expression between partners becomes a source of real discomfort over time.

The difference may start out insignificant. It might be a harmless preference. Or maybe your partner has a kink you don’t mind entertaining.

In fact, you might even enjoy it for a while. This thing may not start out as a difference at all. There could be something you do in the bedroom that you once found extremely hot, but now no longer do.

That’s valid! Our sexual tastes can change and evolve over time. Sometimes that means a thing we used to enjoy no longer does it for us.

Whether you once enjoyed a particular sex act or only ever partook for your partner’s enjoyment, it’s okay to realize that you’d like to start doing things differently.

No matter how long you’ve been having sex the way you do, you can always ask to change it.

Even if there’s an activity in your sex life that only makes occasional appearances, you’re allowed to request that those occasional appearances stop entirely.

The hard part for many of us, of course, is actually speaking up. Let’s talk about that.

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Asking for Change in the Bedroom

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto

There are endless (and totally valid) reasons to ask for a change in the way you and a partner have sex.

Maybe they…

  • say things in bed that don’t feel sexy for you
  • enjoy acting out a fantasy you’re not completely into
  • like things a little rougher than you’d prefer

Whatever it is, the first time it happened it was probably bearable (if not enjoyable). But if it’s become a part of your routine and is getting in the way of enjoying sex, here’s what to do:

1. Clearly define the change you want.

Photo by Marcelo Chagas

These situations can be complicated. Sex is often tied to other parts of our relationships. Trying to address multiple issues at once is confusing, messy, and usually unproductive.

Before you initiate a conversation with your partner, narrow things down to one or two specific actions that you’d like removed from your sex life. Be really specific.

Saying “I no longer want to have rough sex,” is open to interpretation. What is rough sex? What’s rough for one person may not be rough for another.

On the other hand, saying “I no longer want my hair pulled or my ass slapped,” is clear and specific.

Once one or two specific acts have been successfully eliminated from your sex life, you can use this process again to ask for any other changes.

(If you realize you have a long list of specific actions you’d like stopped, it may be a good idea to have a sex coach or therapist assist with this process.)

2. Create a script.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto

Write a script down or simply practice on your own. Either way, it’s helpful to know what you’ll say when you broach the topic.

Try adapting this template:

“I need to tell you something, and I want you to know that you haven’t done anything wrong. I enjoy our sex life very much and always look forward to having sex with you. I know we’ve been [doing x] during sex for some time now, but I’ve realized that I don’t enjoy it. I’d like to remove that activity from our sex life. Again, you haven’t done anything wrong. I hope we can brainstorm some fun new ideas that excite both of us to replace this one in the bedroom.”

This template makes it clear that your partner hasn’t done anything wrong, that you enjoy sex with them, and that you want to keep having great sex with them. It also makes it clear that this request is all about your personal preference, and is not a criticism of their sexual expression.

3. Use good timing.

Photo by Andres Ayrton

Every partnership is different, but these conversations tend to be most productive if they’re had before your next sexual encounter. Ideally, they also happen before things start to get hot and heavy.

Some people find that bringing these topics up in the afterglow of sex is a better time. If you’re comfortable experiencing the thing you want stopped one last time, this might work for you.

For many of us, the hardest time to have this conversation is while the activity is happening. Some people are great at saying, “Hey, I’m not cool with that,” in the heat of the moment. Those people probably aren’t reading this blog post.

With time and practice you can gain the ability to speak up in the moment. Until then, plan to make your request at a time when you think it will be best received. This is usually at a time of day you’re both fairly calm and relaxed.

4. Listen to their response.

Photo by Juan Pablo Serrano Arenas

Partners don’t usually see these conversations coming. On top of that, the news can be tough to take in. Give them time to process what you’ve said, and do your best to stay calm and answer any questions.

People are often upset to find out they’ve been doing something their loved one isn’t enjoying during sex. After explaining your new boundary, you may need to offer reassurance that you aren’t angry or hurt and that you’re still excited to have sex in new and creative ways.

If your partner pushes back against your boundary and tries to convince you to withdraw it or compromise, that may be cause for concern. Hold firm and see how they react to that.

Further pushing is a sign that there are bigger issues at play. These are best addressed with counseling or therapy.

Talking About Sex…and Change

Photo by Christina Morillo on Pexels.com

Sex is a touchy subject for a lot of people. It’s easy to get our self-worth wrapped up in how good we are in bed or how well we satisfy our partners.

Bringing up something that we’re not enjoying during sex can be misconstrued as criticism or an attack. Many people I’ve talked to about this topic say they don’t want to hurt their partner’s feelings or make them self-conscious about sex. They want their partners to know that the sex is great and that it will be even better without ‘this one thing’.

On the other side of these conversations, I find that once a person has the chance to process the request they’re often not really upset about the request itself. They’re more concerned by how long the other person hid their discomfort or pretended to be enjoying themselves. They frequently ask why their partner didn’t feel safe coming to them sooner.

Sex is complicated. There are endless reasons why someone may hesitate to speak up about their preferences, and endless reasons why someone may interpret a request as an attack. Seeking out sex-positive resources can help untangle these experiences.

One thing’s for certain: if you’re not enjoying something that’s happening during sex, you have every right to ask for it to stop.

Who knows? Closing that door may just open another one to your next exciting sexual adventure.

Shannon Burton, SXI

Need help asking for a change in the bedroom? Check out my free sexual communication activity book:

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Published by Shannon Burton

Erotic Ignition Coach by day, poet and flash fiction author by night, I occasionally manage to get out of the house and enjoy New Orleans as it's meant to be.

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