Why we don’t talk about sexual issues with our partners (and why we should)

We are encouraged to be open about everything. But not sex. Why is that?

Couples will often find themselves fighting about all sorts of random things—what to spend our money on, where to vacation, who is doing the dishes, who’s turn it is to take the dog to the vet, etc. There is no limit to the things we can disagree upon…and ultimately resolve.

Studies have shown that couples who fight actually have healthier relationships. Why? Because when you bring up a conflict, argue about it, and then find a resolution, it’s over and you can move on.

Yet, when it comes to sex, we don’t have this same boldness. A problem arises, and we ignore it. We push it down and pretend it isn’t there.

How many times have you heard a friend complaining about her sex life? She won’t bring up the issues with her spouse, and instead chooses to suffer in silence. She has no issue telling them they need to stop leaving last night’s underwear on the floor, but when it comes to sex…nothing.

What gives? This is what we know about why we don’t talk about sex issues with our partners (and why we absolutely should).

Why just sex?

Sex is unlike any other topic we fight about with our partners. We consider sex a topic we cannot discuss openly. The subject of sex is shrouded in shame and embarrassment. We might chat about it over mimosas with our friends, but in any other context, we struggle to bring it up. In fact, many women wouldn’t want to talk about their sex lives over mimosas, either.

We are encouraged to be open about everything. But not sex. Why is that?

How we view sex is based on a very strict set of social scripts: A heterosexual man and a heterosexual woman are in a relationship. The man gets horny and then his penis gets hard. He puts his penis in the woman’s vagina. She is OK with this, but, like, obviously doesn’t like sex that much. He thrusts deep and hard resulting in an orgasm, simultaneously, with his partner.

It might sound ridiculous to you, a modern person, but this is very much how we still view sex. Anything that deviates outside of this script is a grey area—it’s a place we’re not supposed to venture. If your partner doesn’t get a throbbing erection every time you have sex, you have a higher libido, she doesn’t want to go down on you, you’ve lost your orgasm, etc., there must be something very wrong.

So wrong, in fact, that you are not to speak of it. Our society is so scared of sex and anything sexual that we opt not to talk about it at all. We choose bad sex and orgasm-less existences over an uncomfortable series of conversations.

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