Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Talking About Sex - A Blueprint

            In over 35 years of research at the Gottman Institute, we have found overwhelming evidence that talking about sex is directly correlated to the overall happiness in a couples’ relationship – both how often as well as the quality of the conversation, particularly for women. 

          We discovered a sexual satisfaction rate of only 9% for women who are unable to talk to their partner openly about sex. These same women were also less satisfied with their relationship in general. In comparison, over 50% of women who said that they felt comfortable openly discussing their sexual feelings with their husbands reported that they were satisfied sexually and satisfied in general with their relationship. 

          The power of communication is huge. If you are sexually frustrated in your relationship and feel like you are unable to communicate with your partner about your needs, it’s not too late! We have created an exercise in The Gott Sex? Series that helps you create a blueprint for talking about sex in your relationship by asking your partner specific, targeted questions about their sexual preferences to make a Sex Love Map of their most erotic fantasies and desires.

          One of our favorite examples for illustrating the importance of building strong emotional connection through intimate conversation is a story Dr. Gottman tells about the male porcupine. 

Image of porcupine with quills aggressively postured.
        When Masters and Johnson’s books came out in the early 1970s, Dr. Gottman was an assistant professor at Indiana University, home of the famous Kinsey Institute. Having been raised in the 1950s, he and many other young couples’ therapists were uncomfortable talking to couples about their sex lives. To desensitize his students, one of Dr. Gottman’s psychology professors showed films that the Kinsey Institute had available of virtually every animal on the planet having sex. They saw mice, elephants, giraffes, and even zebras having sex. However, no animal left a more lasting impression on Dr. Gottman than the porcupine. 

          Sex for the male porcupine is no simple task: if he attempts to mount the female while her quills are up, he will seriously injure himself. In the video of the porcupines having sex that Dr. Gottman saw, the male porcupine sat down in front of the female and put his paws on either side of her face and began to gently stroke her cheeks. 

         The female seemed interested in this and closed her eyes and allowed him to caress her face. After a long while, the male shifted around behind her and checked on her quills to see if they were still up. After inspecting them he saw that they were, so he came back and continued to patiently stroke her face. After a long time, once he had fully engaged his partner emotionally, he walked around and mounted a very relaxed and willing female in what appeared to be satisfying sex for both partners.

            While we are not suggesting that you rub your partners face for hours in order to have more satisfying sex, what we are suggesting is that you communicate with your partner openly about sex to find out exactly what they want. So what exactly does a blueprint for talking about sex look like? To get you started, here are some example questions that you can ask your partner about what felt good last time you made love and what you each would like to see changed in the future. 

What Felt Good Last Time?
  1. What made you feel relaxed?
  2. What did you feel about our non-sexual affection, touching, caressing, kissing, or massage?
  3. What were some things we did that really turned you on erotically?
  4. What made you feel most connected to me?

What Would You Like to See Changed?

  1. What do you need to put you in the mood?
  2.   If you are a 5 (“I’m convincible”) on our amorous scale and I am a 9 (very horny), what do you most need from me?
  3. What helps you focus on your body?
  4. What makes sex more like intimate love making to you?
        If you don’t feel comfortable openly talking about it at first, we suggest writing down your answers on paper and exchanging them with your partner. We want you to think of creating a blueprint for talking about sex as an investment in the longevity and overall happiness of not only your sex life, but your overall relationship with your partner.

The Gottman Institute


  1. This is a surprising finding for the study. But I can attest that physical intimacy is best with emotional intimacy.

  2. It's a blueprint that people (especially married couples) have to follow if they want to have a successful relationship. It boils down to openness; discussing feelings, affections, and even sexual desires.


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