This week, the F4TF team asks:
Are you comfortable discussing sex with your partner? Do you have the confidence to ask for what you like/want?
I can now, but it wasn’t always so.
For me, good communication is a hard-won skill. I don’t remember ever seeing my parents (before they split) discussing difficult issues, though I did witness the occasional blow-up. As for me, if I did something wrong, my mom’s disapproval was silently icy, while my dad would bite his tongue until he couldn’t anymore, then shout at me.
Since I started having relationships, there have been many times when I wanted to say something (for instance, about a difficulty I was having with the relationship) but suffered a sudden, paralyzing attack of muteness.
Talking about sex involved a foundation of general muteness topped with a thick layer of sexual shame. The inherent reticence remained a problem, but before I could even try to speak I had to know what I wanted, which meant I had to be aware of and acknowledge my wants. So I first had to allow myself to have wants. The net effect was that I didn’t have much, if anything, to say.
Things have improved a great deal for me, but it’s not always easy. My communication style still leans towards delicacy rather than bluntness. Wolf and I started really discussing things while he was still out of the country, so everything was mediated by the distance of Skype, or email, or curated Tumblr images. I’ve gotten over my reticence with him and I experience only occasional mild embarrassment, which is typically paired with a slight hesitation to speak. But do I still get a bit hung up at the stage of actually knowing what I want and allowing myself to want. That’s something I’m working on. Once I know what I want, I don’t find it overly difficult to ask for it.
Gawan and I have more to discuss, and this is the first time I’ve gone through the early phases of a relationship without being stuck on mute. In his frankness, he sets a good example for me. And given how we met, talking about sex was definitely going to be on the table! Things are complicated by the fact that this is long-distance, and we’re also discussing BDSM. If I’m unable to articulate an answer while we’re talking on Skype – whether from shyness or just not knowing – I’ll take some time afterwards to have a bit of a think and then write an email. I always find writing easier than saying it out loud.
In communication needs and wants, my exploration of the dark and hidden corners of myself is as big a part of the process as being able to give voice to what I find.