Have you ever found yourself thinking, "My partner should know what I like, need, or want?" It's a common assumption in relationships, but relying solely on assumptions can hinder the growth of intimacy. The power of feedback, both verbal and nonverbal, cannot be underestimated when it comes to enhancing intimacy. Studies have shown that effective communication and feedback are closely linked to relational and sexual satisfaction. Let's explore why feedback is essential for deepening intimacy and how to make it an enjoyable part of your relationship.
The Value of Feedback in Sex and Relationships
Imagine two different scenarios in your intimate encounters:
Scenario 1: Your partner remains silent during sex, eyes closed, and you're left uncertain about their enjoyment. This lack of communication triggers anxiety and racing thoughts.
Scenario 2: Your partner showers you with compliments on your actions, techniques, and provides positive moans of approval. They guide you, either verbally or nonverbally, indicating what they like and how they like it.
These scenarios represent polar opposites, but which one feels clearer and more satisfying? Chances are, it's the second scenario. In this scenario, your partner offers positive reinforcement, confirming their enjoyment of your actions.
While communicating your desires may initially seem challenging, regular feedback can lead to enhanced trust, vulnerability, and overall communication within the relationship. The benefits extend beyond the bedroom, positively impacting your emotional connection.
Why Constructive Feedback Matters
Offering constructive criticism or feedback can be more uncomfortable than providing positive feedback. It's not always easy to tell someone that something isn't working for you or that they're doing something wrong. However, it's crucial for maintaining a healthy sexual relationship. As Vanessa and Xander Marin emphasize in their book "Sex Talks," pleasure is never static; it constantly evolves. This underscores the importance of ongoing feedback in any relationship. Vanessa Marin aptly describes feedback as "reporting back to your partner about your experience, in the moment, moment by moment."
To ease any nervousness around constructive feedback, start with the positives. Instead of saying phrases like:
- "You're using too much tongue."
- "I don't like that."
- "That doesn't feel good."
- "Don't touch me there."
Consider phrases like:
- "That pressure feels amazing. Can you move your hand slightly lower?"
- "Remember what we did the other night? I loved that."
- "The slower strokes from earlier were incredible."
- "I adore how you feel when you're on top."
- "Yes, please hold my hands just like that."
Remember, it's crucial to communicate if something is causing you pain, unless, of course, pain is part of your preferences and kinks.
Handling a Partner's Difficulty in Receiving Feedback
Receiving feedback, especially when it pertains to a vulnerable area like sexual intimacy, can be challenging for anyone. It's essential to approach this conversation after the sexual experience has concluded. Keep in mind that feedback isn't an attack on you; it's about enhancing mutual pleasure.
Acknowledge that everyone's body responds differently, and what worked for a previous partner may not have the same effect on you. Encourage an open dialogue to understand your partner's reluctance and explore what aspects of their self-esteem or confidence might be influencing their response.
In some heterosexual relationships, cisgender men might link their ability to please their partner with their masculinity. This connection can lead to productive discussions and opportunities for growth within the relationship.
Listening attentively to your partner's perspective is vital. You are a team, and both your needs and desires hold equal value in this context.
Sex therapist Vanessa Marin offers a valuable insight: "Pleasure is always in motion." Keep this mantra in mind as you navigate the feedback process with your partner. Transform your sexual experiences into moments of exploration and fun, reinforcing the notion that you both share the same team and the same goal: deepening your connection and pleasure together.