Intimate Connection Collection

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Why Sexual Communication is So Hard & What You Can Do to Make Easier

June 05, 202311 min read

A common question I hear is, “Why is talking to my partner about my sexual desires so hard?”

And it’s true.

Sexual communication is hard. 

So, let’s talk about why that is and what you can do to make it easier.

When it comes to talking about sex and saying what we want “in the bedroom,” we feel awkward, embarrassed and scared.

In a recent study, OMGYES found that 52% of women wanted to tell their partners how they really wanted to be touched but decided not to. 



  • They didn’t want to hurt their partner’s feelings.

  • They didn’t want to be too demanding.

  • They didn’t think it was important enough.

  • They didn’t want to feel embarrassed.

  • Or didn’t know how to say what they wanted.

In addition to those, I’ve heard:

  • They were scared to hurt their partner’s feelings.

  • They were scared of being judged and/or rejected.

  • They felt ashamed about their desires, so kept them silent.

  • They felt ashamed about NOT knowing their desires.

  • They felt awkward about having the conversation.

THIS is why I do what I do … 

So that you CAN say what you really want in your sex life.

And it’s very similar to my own experience and the experience of so many women I’ve talked to.

I know you can relate!

But do you know the REAL reason why you feel awkward, uncomfortable, embarrassed or scared about saying what you want in your sex life?

The real reason is that for years, you’ve been taught NOT to talk about it.

Here are a few of the ways that society has programmed you to believe that you shouldn’t talk about sex or what you want and how to overcome it:

  1. Childhood experiences of “the talk” that are full of false information (we do almost anything to avoid saying “sex” or call anatomy what it really is). The message is often communicated through resistance and embarrassment as well as a message of “only do it this way in this context.” And the result is shame.

  2. Influences that reinforce the shame and tell us that who we are and what we want is wrong in some fundamental way. This silences, suppresses and stifles all the beautiful things that make us unique until it’s all locked up and secret inside our own heads.

  3. Shitty, incomplete and one-sided sexuality education that perpetuates the problem and often continues the message of “only do it this way, in this context.” Anyone who falls outside of that supposed norm is left feeling alone, wrong, broken and like there must be something abnormal about them.

  4. Messages from the media and porn that compound the issue and contribute to body shame, false expectations, faking pleasure or orgasms and feeling like we don’t measure up in terms of our sexual anatomy.

  5. Systems of oppression that work to keep us quiet.


It’s even harder because in any form of communication, there are multiple things going on at once:

  1. Someone communicates a message in some way.

  2. They have an intention or purpose and it comes from their own perceptions, experiences, emotions, culture,  understanding, etc.

  3. They want the person receiving it to understand what they meant.

  4. That person receives the message.

  5. But it’s communicated on multiple levels (e.g. words, body language, tone, etc.).

  6. And they hear it through their own filters and process it based on their own perceptions, experience, emotions, culture, understanding, etc.

  7. What’s communicated may not be received as intended.

  8. The person who receives, then responds.

  9. And the process continues. 

Not only that, but we all have different personalities and communication styles. 

I created my own version of the four main communication styles, which include your unique strengths as well as areas that make communication challenging. 

They are:

  1. Passionate

  2. Peaceful

  3. Powerful

  4. Purposeful

Here’s a bit about each one.

The first style is passionate. 

If you’re the passionate style, you’re … passionate, obviously! And excited, fun, bright, cheery, playful, free-spirited, light and full of energy. You have lots of ideas popping up - - so, you’re imaginative, curious, open and creative. In your communication of those ideas, you’re expressive, spontaneous and animated. You love to talk (and talk fast!), interact with other people, and tell stories. You’re optimistic and you see the possibilities and the big-picture vision of things as well. 

These characteristics contribute to your strengths when it comes to sexual communication.

You also have characteristics that contribute to your challenges in communication. You’re adaptable to what others want, which can cause you to not say what you want or need. You do like things to feel light and happy, so you can avoid things that feel hard or heavy and you sometimes disconnect from them. You also don’t want to hurt people’s feelings or have anyone feel unhappy, so that adds to you not saying things that you fear will cause negative emotions. Because you have a bounciness to you and you have so many ideas and a quick mind, you can jump from topic to topic, go to many random places in conversations and also interrupt a lot.

Now some tips for you if you’re in a relationship with a passionate type. In conversations, it can help to:

  • Keep things positive

  • Let them express themselves

  • Take time to just chat socially

  • Be more expressive and upbeat yourself

  • Focus on the big picture

  • Share your own experiences and stories

  • Keep things simple, without a lot of details

  • Don’t interrupt them

  • And be open to spontaneity

The next style is peaceful.

If you’re the peaceful style, I bet you can guess that you’re peaceful. You’re calm, gentle, nurturing, sensitive, supportive and comfort and coziness are important to you. Meaning is also important to you, so you pay attention to all the details that matter to people you care about. In your communication with people, you’re warm, compassionate, loving, kind and empathetic. You ask lots of questions and you’re a great listener. You’re heart-centered, openhearted, emotional and you like to tell stories as well.

These characteristics contribute to your strengths when it comes to sexual communication.

You also have characteristics that contribute to your challenges in communication. Sometimes you can be over sensitive and this can lead to you making assumptions that you think are correct. You imagine the worst and worry that things aren’t okay. You hate conflict because it doesn’t feel cozy or comfortable, so you often stay quiet, communicate in a passive or indirect way, don’t say no and leave decision-making to others. You can also be self-sacrificial, putting your own desires and needs aside in favor of others’ desires and needs. 

Now some tips for you if you’re in a relationship with a peaceful type. In conversations, it can help to:

  • Go at a slower pace

  • Allow for reflection time

  • Ask specific questions 

  • Offer support

  • Plan important conversations

  • Ask for their opinions

  • And avoid being confrontational

The next style is powerful.

If you’re the powerful style, you’re … what is it?? … you guessed it. Powerful. You’re strong, confident, persistent, determined, action-oriented and a leader. In your communication, you’re direct and to the point. You’re assertive and clear about what you want. And you’re non-nonsense. Just the facts! You appreciate honesty. You value respect. And you’re organized as well. 

These characteristics contribute to your strengths when it comes to sexual communication.

You also have characteristics that contribute to your challenges in communication. Because you’re quick-moving, don’t like details, and like to get to the point, you tend to interrupt a lot out of impatience. Have you ever done that hard eye roll and thought to yourself, “Get to the point”? This doesn’t make you a great listener! You like to be in control. You’re independent. And you’re guarded. So, you can come across as judgmental, harsh and bossy to others. You also have a tendency to be argumentative and reactive, which adds to that perception.  

Now some tips for you if you’re in a relationship with a powerful type. In conversations, it can help to:

  • Be direct

  • Be brief

  • Don’t chit chat or ramble

  • Focus on the important things

  • And ask for their decisions

The last style is purposeful.

If you’re the purposeful style, you’re purposeful about things. In other words, you’re intentional, focused, strategic, organized and you stay on track. You’re a deep thinker, intelligent, analytical, serious and factual. In your communication, you like to be structured, clear, bold, simple and brief, but thorough. You love lists and charts. You prefer to reflect on things. And you value respect and trust. When there’s trust and respect, you feel safe to open up about your deep feelings. 

These characteristics contribute to your strengths when it comes to sexual communication.

You also have characteristics that contribute to your challenges in communication. Because you’re serious, you don’t like to let loose or be silly in conversations. Since you like to take time to think and reflect, you really dislike being put on the spot. You also like to have things perfect and get things right, so that adds to not wanting to be put on the spot. You’re a private person and you can be guarded and quiet until you feel safe, so you can appear to be unapproachable and cold. Sometimes others perceive you as judgmental, critical, blunt and condescending. 

Now some tips for you if you’re in a relationship with a purposeful type. In conversations, it can help to:

  • Focus on the key issues

  • Be thorough and include all information

  • Allow reflection time

  • Listen

  • Be patient

  • And give them time to open up and feel safe

We have all four styles in us and can learn to communicate in all four, but we have one that’s dominant.

Which one do you think you are?

Keep in mind that there are also nuances, depending on your secondary style and other influences in your life like emotional intelligence and trauma responses.

Now, if it wasn't already complex enough, in any of the styles, we can also be passive, aggressive, passive-aggressive or assertive.

Some characteristics of passive communication:

  • not expressing your feelings or needs

  • allowing others to ignore your needs

  • deferring to others to make decisions

  • not saying no and therefore, building up anger and resentment

Some characteristics of aggressive communication:

  • expressing your feelings, needs and ideas in ways that negatively impact others (e.g. alienate or hurt them)

  • ignoring others’ rights in order to support your own

  • becoming defensive or hostile when confronted by others

Some characteristics of passive-aggressive communication:

  • appearing passive on the surface, but actually acting based on anger and control through using sarcasm, indirect communication, or avoiding the conversation

  • not paying attention to the rights, needs or feelings of others

  • giving others the silent treatment

And some characteristics of assertive communication (which is ideal):

  • direct, honest communication of thoughts and feelings

  • respecting the feelings, ideas and needs of others while also asserting your own

  • using I statements

But we’re not done yet!

Sexual communication is also hard because no matter what our style is, we need to learn effective communication strategies like:

  1. Active listening (e.g. reflecting back/restating, focus and presence, asking questions to understand or gain clarity).

  2. Neutral language versus blaming, accusing, defending or reacting (e.g. I statements, restating, tone of voice, body language).

  3. Openness: a) to get to know yourself and your uniqueness, b) to honestly share your sexual uniqueness like your values, perspectives, likes, dislikes, preferences, desires, kinks, etc., c) to listen to your partner’s uniqueness, d) to honestly share what gets in the way for you, e) to listen to what gets in the way for your partner, f) to honestly talk about both positive things (i.e. what’s working) and negative things (i.e. what’s not working, things you disagree about, underlying relationship issues), g) to talk frequently and regularly about sex, and h) to communicate verbally and nonverbally before, during and after sex.

  4. Awareness of your own communication style and that of your partner(s).

  5. Creating clarity (e.g. in your words, in your listening).

  6. Emotional intelligence.

  • Being aware of our own emotions and how they affect us.

  • Using that awareness to manage ourselves and how we respond or react to things (e.g. breathing, not taking things personally, seeking to understand).

  • Being aware of others’ emotions.

  • Using that awareness to manage our relationships with others (e.g. empathy, communication, managing conflict, resolving disagreements).

  • Awareness of trauma responses (i.e. fight, flight, freeze, fawn).

  1. Context (e.g. consent, scheduling conversations, talking outside of the bedroom, talking when emotions are calm, using fun ways to start and have conversations like games, tech tools, checklists and touch).

So, there are a LOT of dynamics that impact sexual communication!

But it’s possible … and important … to do the work to create healthy and effective communication. Because it’s essential for a healthy and satisfying sex life.

“Sexual communication is critical to the development and maintenance of healthy sexual function.” ~ Masters & Johnson

And studies have shown that sexual communication positively impacts:

  • Desire.

  • Arousal.

  • Lubrication.

  • Orgasm.

  • Erectile function.

  • Overall sexual function.

  • And it can even reduce pain.

Studies have also shown that a lack of communication contributes to sexual difficulties and dissatisfaction.

So, how do you create great communication? 


  1. Getting clear about societal conditioning and shifting things at that foundational level.

  2. Discovering or rediscovering who you are and what you really want.

  3. Learning how to communicate and confidently express who you uniquely are.

You can get started with three keys to non-boring date nights that create connection and communication.

And let me know what your biggest struggle has been with sexual communication.

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Leanne Chesser

Hi! I'm Leanne. I'm a intimacy coach and creator of Connection for Couples and the 5C System. I help couples create connected relationships and build foundations for intimacy, emotionally intelligent communication and sexual authenticity and go from feeling like disconnected roommates to connected, intimate partners again. You can learn more at

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