Let’s talk about sex.
More than half of Americans (58%) say they do not engage in clear and direct communication about their sex lives, according to new data from 75,000 married couples out from Lasting, a marriage app. And that’s a big problem because only 9% of couples who can’t talk to one another openly about their sex lives actually have a satisfying sex life. In other words: Bad communication about sex = bad sex.
“One of the main barriers to satisfying sex is communication,” explains Steven Dziedzic, founder of Lasting. “People find it awkward to talk about, they aren’t sure how their partner will respond.” And that leads to a lack of satisfaction for a variety of reasons, including that couples don’t know one another’s preferences, likes and dislikes, he adds.
What’s more, those who don’t communicate well about sex may tend to have less sex, Dziedzic explains, noting that while there isn’t research on this, it’s likely true. And that may be one big reason why couples aren’t getting it on as much as experts might like them to. About one in 10 (12%) had no sex in the past year, 21% had it several times per year, and 34% once or twice a month, according to a study of 20,000 couples. One study found that having sex once a week is the perfect amount to boost relationship satisfaction.
Having less frequent and less satisfying sex isn’t just a problem at home either: It also impacts your work. A study of married couples published last year in the Journal of Management found that, regardless of how happy their marriage was, the day after an employee had sex with his or her partner, she was more satisfied and engaged with her career. What’s more, people who engage in sex at least four times per week make more money than those who do the deed less frequently, according to a discussion paper from Nick Drydakis, a fellow at the Institute for the Study of Labor. Regular sex is also correlated with lowered stress and higher on-the-job productivity.
So what does this all mean? That it’s time to talk about sex. “If you avoid blaming, shaming, or complaining about your partner, that usually sets the stage for a productive conversation,” says Crystal Lee, an LA-based psychologist. Instead, frame it as your wants and needs, and frame those positively, she says: “For example, ‘I loved when you do XYZ. Can you do that more?’ instead of ‘You don’t do XYZ enough.’ or ‘Why don’t you ever do XYZ?’”.
It also may help to use a stat or story you read as a launching off point for the conversation, says Dziedzic. You might say something how you read that communicating more openly about sex is good for couples, for example, and then use that as a launching point to talk about some new things you’ve wanted to try.