Sunday, September 18, 2011

Better Sex Tips - Part 2

        Us: How central of a role does verbal communication play in creating this attitude towards sex?

        Dr. John Gottman: Thinking of sex this way does involve verbal communication and being able to say things like, “What do you need, what are you feeling right now?” This is because when everything becomes sex, sex becomes all about communicating love and affection for one another. It really takes your relationship to another level if you are able to talk with your partner intimately and ask them check-up questions like, “how are you, how was work, do you need help?” And if you see that they’re stressed, asking them something like, “Can I take the baby? You seem really stressed out and tired, why don't you go and take a nap?” or, “Honey, you look like you’re really stressed. Why don’t we sit down and you can tell me about it?” The ability to have an intimate conversation - that is, to listen, ask probing questions, and empathize with your partner, not just about sex but about anything - is one of the things that builds rock solid relationships.

        Us: So, would it be fair to say that couples who do these things enjoy stronger and more stable relationships overall, compared to couples who don’t communicate, or at least who don’t communicate as much as they should?

        John: Exactly.  And part of the skill set that we teach in the Gott Sex Series is really about having intimate conversations, which is a dying art. People don't think of conversation as something that’s related to sex; you know, they’d say that having a conversation, that's not sex. People think that sex is touching and kissing and caressing and sucking and licking. But, having intimate conversation, saying, “Hey baby, how are you doing, how are you feeling about your job, you look kind  of sad you know when you come home, lets talk about it” is really sex.  

        Everything in that conversation is sex, and it helps build friendship and emotional connection as well. It doesn't seem like that would really be a key ingredient for friendship and for having a good sex life, but it's very essential because there is an increasing sense of emotional distance when couples don’t do these things. 

        In many relationships I have observed, people only start trying to be close when they want intercourse, or when they want to have an orgasm, and in these cases then there is no basis for  closeness. There’s no prior emotional connection. In fact, people may be feeling alienated and lonely, like their needs are getting ignored in a relationship, and all of a sudden their partner wants to have sex with them, and it's even more alienating then. Insulting even. This is why communication and friendship are so important to a happy relationship.

        Us: So you’re saying that the best way to build this type of connection is to frequently ask our partner questions about how they are and what type of important things are going on in their life, saying things like, “ how was your day, is that particular thing still bothering you, or how’s your stress level today?.” That sort of thing?

        John:  That's a part of it. I mean that's one way of doing it; that's an active part of it.  But, the other thing is really noticing how your partner asks for whatever he or she needs, and noticing how your partner tries to get your attention, get your interest, start a conversation, initiate affection, give appreciation, say thank you, that kind of thing. It’s about noticing the bids they make for emotional connection and responding to them. A lot of times when people make these bids for emotional connection they  make them indirectly, especially in the areas that involve more intimate connection, like sex. For instance, if a woman wants sex she might say something to her partner like, “Isn’t it a little cold in here sweetie?” Or, “Burr I’m cold.”

        People really are very indirect and often very uncomfortable about saying what they need, so part of what's essential is to develop an awareness of how your particular partner asks for what he or she needs, noticing these important bids for emotional connection, and then acting on them. In therapy we tell couples to try and notice when their partner is experiencing a negative emotion. When your partner is upset about something, feeling lonely, feeling alienated, feeling disappointed, it’s a great time to connect with them. What you do to connect with your partner when they are upset and how you connect with them is very important.

        Over and over again in our Love Lab, we saw that people just weren't aware of how they really turned away from their partner and left their partner hanging, twisting slowly in the wind, instead of turning towards them. It leaves people feeling alienated and upset when they try to get through and their partner just doesn't hear them. It’s actually very sad.

        Us: Why do you think this is such a problem for some couples? Are they just missing some naturally inherent set of skills for turning towards and connecting emotionally?

        John: The problem is generally the advice that is given to couples on this subject. Most of the resources out there don’t give couples a real recipe or anything  concrete or specific about how to do this, for how to turn towards.  And, what's different about the advice we give couples is that we provide them with specific tools and skills for enhancing the key ingredients of friendship.

        Us: And these skills and tools are part of your Gott Sex Series?

        John: That’s right.

        Us: Sounds great!  Any last words?

        John: Sure. Look, this isn’t rocket science. How to be good friends and how to have good sex really comes down to communicating, displaying  affection and respect, and turning towards your partner's bids for emotional connection. 

        Us: Dr. Gottman, thank you so much for giving us your time today.

        John: My pleasure.


  1. Think so good & enjoyment.

  2. Well its all about how your partner uses hand or mouth during foreplay that can arouse erotic pleasure. Anyway thanks for a couple of education here, keep it up!


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