Search
  • paulinethepsychologist

The Other F Words: Tailored Tips for Talking Sex

Updated: Feb 13

For many people, the way they relate to sex can have major parallels to the way they deal with anything difficult, potentially awkward, scary, and uncertain. Understanding your usual automatic reaction to discussing sex as well as your partners can give you insight into how to proceed and have a more productive conversation.



For many people, the way they relate to sex can have major parallels to the way they deal with anything difficult, potentially awkward, scary, and uncertain. Understanding your usual automatic reaction to discussing sex as well as your partners can give you insight into how to proceed and have a more productive conversation.


Do you deal with feeling helpless by jumping in headfirst, being direct, blunt, and intense? You might be more of a fighter.


Do you tend to hide, running away from anything that could be dangerous or tough?

You might be a flighter.


Do you just get so overwhelmed just acknowledging that there might be a problem that you feel totally stuck?

You might be a freezer.


It’s important to recognize that what is coming up around discussing sex probably comes up for you in lots of spheres. So too does how your partner approaches this give you insight into how they orient to difficult, potentially threatening things. Being mindful of your feelings and reactions as well as open to noticing what is happening for your partner is important to your overall relationship, not just the sexual aspect.


So discussing sex, in some ways, is giving you both individual and collective tools to be able to tackle difficult subjects together and effectively. It may not be easy but it’s worth it.


Sometimes fighters can turn to attacking, blaming, and being hurtful - they have trained to use any tool in their arsenal to win, which means to protect themselves from feeling vulnerable.
Sometimes flighters can dismiss and invalidate their partners because they have gotten really good at downplaying and pushing aside their own feelings in order to protect themselves from perceived pain.
Sometimes freezers can have a hard time even agreeing to some of the facts because not fully seeing reality is one way to stay stuck, and thus protected by remaining in a safe, but unproductive, place.

The goal will be to get to a place where you can both easily and comfortably discuss sex with one another and not have a fight, flight, or freeze response. But if you’re not there yet, rather than just give you a bunch of general tips, I’m going to tailor the tips to your anxiety style above. These can be adapted to whether they are about you or about your partner.



For fighters: 

They fight when they don’t feel heard or seen. Acknowledge their efforts before bringing up anything that you would like changed. Give them assurance that you see and appreciate their efforts. Make every effort not to attack as this will trigger their defensiveness.


Show them that you are on their team. Engage them in collaborative problem-solving. This will help them feel like they are being brought in to help come up with a solution rather than going to battle against you.


“I love that you make the effort to initiate sex from time to time. I would really like to have more sex. I want to try to initiate more often too. How else do you think we can increase how often we are physical?”


Don’t get caught in the facts. This will just get you into a game of “you said” “they said” and get you no closer to understanding one another or coming together more often (yup, I said it). Stay away from generalizations like “you never” or “you always” as this is sure to get their brain to focus on all the times they have or haven’t. Stay in your feelings rather than the facts. They can’t argue with those and it will help them stay in their softer feelings rather than the more protected, colder facts.



For flighters: 

They need reassurance that although the conversation might be a bit difficult, it is for the good of the relationship. The sheers they see are for pruning the leaves, not ripping out the roots. One tip is using the sandwich method where something constructive is sandwiched in between two positive things so that it can actually be absorbed.


“I really like that we make time to be sexual and intimate with one another. I sometimes wish that we had even more time and would love to have more foreplay. I enjoy the experiences we have and think more of it would be even better!”


Another tip is having a slow start up. Charging in and demanding more foreplay or discussing how unsatisfied with your sex life you are in general can really signal danger to a flighter and rather than helping them stay present enough to listen to what you’re saying and be able to meet your needs and discuss their own experience, you will just see a trail of dust. You might bring up the topic when you are both calm and relaxed and having a good time. Using a gentle and calm tone can really help signal safety. Maintaining kind eye contact (“nice eyes”) and even touching your partner can be useful throughout. Their bodies are sensitive to threats so helping them through the language of emotion - in the body - can be an asset.



For freezers: 

They need to unfreeze to be able to discuss so let them know that you would like to talk through some things with them and ask them when they might be open and available to it. Someone who is frozen can neither hear nor share.


Freezing happens when we have already moved past the fight or flight stage and our resources have been depleted so we shut down. Since the person is so overwhelmed, choose something specific and small to begin with - if this conversation goes well, they will feel safer to continue in the future with something bigger.


Throughout, check in with them about their emotions and thoughts and experience before bringing in your stuff. Getting them talking will help then buy into the process and be present. You might say a few sentences and then check in to make sure they heard you. Offer observations of their body language or silence to bring them back into the conversation.


I noticed that your eyes went still for a while and you haven’t said anything. How is this landing with you? What are you hearing?


Once the person is unfrozen, they might still have an urge to fight or flight so the tips above can be useful.

10 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All