Reader’s Request Fridays: How Do I Get Over My Shyness And Start Talking About Sex?

February 06,2015

Welcome to Reader’s Request Fridays. This week’s question comes from Tatiana*, who writes, “I read your article in XoJane about sexual compatibility. I’ve been with my boyfriend for years, and I’m embarrassed to say that we’ve never once had a real conversation about sex. We’re lucky in that our sex drives are somewhat compatible, but after reading the article, I couldn’t shake the feeling that being able to talk about sex could improve our sex life. Unfortunately, I’m incredibly shy. Even the thought of saying anatomy names out loud makes me blush. How can I get started?”

How Do I Get Over My Shyness And Start Talking About Sex? | Vanessa

Hi Tatiana,

Thanks for your question!

It’s totally normal to be embarrassed of talk about sex. Even though sex is everywhere in our society, honest conversations about it are incredibly rare. The most important thing is that you have the desire to start talking to your boyfriend, and the willingness to be vulnerable.

Here are some straightforward steps for helping you get started:


Talk to yourself

I want to put you through a little systematic desensitization routine here! Think about the words that feel most embarrassing to you. I’m guessing things like “penis” and “vagina” would be high on your list. Say them to yourself, just inside your head. Do one word at a time and repeat it over and over and over until it starts to feel a little easier. Then say it out loud (when you’re alone), and repeat until that starts to feel better. Take as long as you need on this step – even if it’s a few days or weeks!


Practice in front of a mirror

Once you feel a little more comfortable with specific words, try looking at yourself in the mirror as you say them. Being in front of a mirror feels vulnerable for most people, so this will mimic some of the vulnerability you might feel actually talking to your boyfriend.

At this point, you can also start moving on to full sentences. Go through my blog archives, and find a few articles that interest you. Look at yourself in the mirror while you read the articles out loud. It’s fine to be silly or playful; the point is to keep practicing and getting more comfortable talking about sexual topics.


Start small and easy

The next step is to start talking to your boyfriend. Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to discuss your entire sex life in one go.

Instead, pick one single topic to bring up or question to ask. I recommend picking something that’s positive and doesn’t have a specific goal in mind. Here are a few suggestions:

“What do you like most about our sex life?”

“What is one of your favorite sexual memories with me?”  

“What is your favorite type of foreplay?”

Once you get more comfortable asking these kinds of open-ended questions, you’ll feel more confident about bringing up the trickier stuff.


Get clear on what you want to say

Sexual communication has many purposes, including giving feedback, discussing problems, and proposing new ideas. What kinds of conversations would you like to have with your boyfriend? Check out some of my past articles for inspiration.


Start conversations outside of the bedroom

The hardest time to talk about sex is right before or right after the act itself. Try initiating a conversation when the two of you are hanging out, not doing anything in particular. It helps if you’re both relaxed and in relatively good moods.


Let your partner in on how you’re feeling

Start the conversation by telling your boyfriend, “I want to talk about our sex life. Nothing bad, just want to challenge myself to talk about it openly, because I’ve never done it before. It’s really embarrassing for me to even bring this up, so do you think you can try to be extra supportive?” You can text or email that to him beforehand, to minimize the embarrassment even more. The point is that if your boyfriend has a heads-up about the fact that you’re struggling, he’ll be much more likely to help you take it slow.


Cheer yourself on

Acknowledge every little step you take, and congratulate yourself for being brave. You’re doing something that many people wouldn’t allow themselves to do!


*Names changed for privacy


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I'm Vanessa Marin, a sex therapist and writer specializing in helping you have more fun in the bedroom.

I have bachelor’s degrees in human sexuality and sociology from Brown University, and a master’s degree in counseling psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies. I’m also a licensed psychotherapist. I’ve been working in the sex therapy field since 2002 and have been featured by The New York Times, O: The Oprah Magazine, Real Simple, and many more.

If you’re interested in improving your sex life, you can work with me via my online courses or personal coaching sessions. I look forward to supporting you in creating the sex life you’ve always wanted!