Some people like it rough, and some people like it really, really kinky. No matter which way you like it, the truth of the matter is that you’re not alone. One look at the diverse array of X-rated material that comprises the $2.9 billion Internet pornography industry will tell you that.
Some people like it rough, and some people like it really, really kinky.
No matter which way you like it, the truth of the matter is that you’re not alone. One look at the diverse array of X-rated material that comprises the $2.9 billion Internet pornography industry will tell you that.
Despite the prominent societal presence of all things fetish, certain sexual desires can leave some people feeling alienated and ashamed for wanting or asking for them.
This in turn can keep people from expressing their desires, which can keep them from having the sex they really want.
“I’ve been with my girlfriend for [more than] two years and I still haven’t figured out how to ask her if she’d be interested in having anal sex,” said one Portland State junior who asked to remain anonymous.
“I don’t want her to think I’m weird or that I don’t respect her,” he said. “It’s just something I really want to explore with her.”
According to Dr. Nancy Campbell Hanks, a sex therapist who practices in both Portland and
Sacramento, Calif., issues with communicating sexual desire to a partner are incredibly common.
“Most of my clients express an interest in anal and anything you’d call kinky, like bondage, submission or role play,” she said. “I’d say 75 percent of the couples I see lack the courage and skills to ask for these things outside of therapy.”
Dr. Sheila Silver, a sex therapist in Portland who also happens to be the only clinical sexologist in the state, believes this is a problem everyone encounters at some point or another.
“All of my clients, everybody,” Silver said. “It’s a societal problem.”
“There’s a myth in our culture that you don’t have to talk about [sex] and that you should just know [what your partner wants],” she added.
Silver explained that the reluctance to ask for what you want sexually stems from a fear of how you might be perceived.
“It’s expecting judgment from your partner,” she said. “You may feel vulnerable,
Campbell said the fear goes both ways.
Often, she explained, people are afraid to ask for what they want because they are afraid their partner will think they’re weird. For those on the receiving end of communicated desires, there can be a fear of not doing it right or of being compared to a previous sex partner.
Whatever the scope and origin of the fear, both Campbell and Silver agree that not asking for what you want sexually can be detrimental to a relationship.
“If you decide not to ask the question, you have opted to take things just as they are,” Campbell said. “You’ve opted for things not to change.”
According to Silver, an open line of sexual communication with your partner will increase intimacy, closeness and connectedness.
“When you don’t ask for what you want, it can perpetuate distances and bleed into other areas of the relationship,” she said. “It’s of vital importance.”
Campbell’s and Silver’s best advice when it comes to communicating about what you want is to, well, just do it.
“Just being uncomfortable isn’t an excuse not to do it,” Silver said.
Silver recommends that people talk about it outside of the bedroom, in a nonsexual situation, and believes people can use things that have come up in movies or real life as a starting point to initiate this kind of conversation.
She also suggests debriefing after sex but only in a way that won’t hurt your partner’s feelings.
“Set you and your partner up for success by saying things like, ‘I loved when you did –––––,’ or, ‘I really would like it if you’d –––––,’” Silver explained. “Don’t say things like, ‘Don’t do that,’ or, ‘I hated when you did –––––.’”
Ultimately, Silver believes it’s necessary to get to the root of the discomfort. If you are having difficulty expressing your sexual desires, she said it’s important to ask whether that discomfort stems from family, religion, culture or elsewhere.
Both Campbell and Silver emphasized the level of courage it takes to improve your relationship with sex and your communications about sex with your partner.
“It takes bravery and a willingness to be vulnerable,” Silver said, “but it will move your relationship forward.”