This piece first appeared on The Online Citizen.
I talked about the role of open- and closed-ended questions to get feedback from our partner after a sexual experience.
You might begin asking for sexual feedback by using a few open-ended questions. If your partner is not forthcoming, or you wish to get clearer answers, you could consider incorporating some closed-ended questions. What else could you try?
Scale of 1 to 10
This is where the scale could come in. This is how you might begin:
“On a scale of one to ten, ten being the highest, what do you think of this (technique/position/etc.)? Give it a number.”
“How would you rank today’s (experience/ orgasm, etc) compared to the last time?”
Example: “Oh, I am just curious, why is this an eight, and that a six? What is it about this that makes it an eight? There is no right or wrong answer, baby (or add your own pet name). I love you and I want to learn more about you like.”
Using the scale method, you can drill down to get more specific feedback. You can use the scale to ask your partner, “How horny are you?” or “How much would you like to have sex today?” to get a sense of their desire for sex at that particular time. If you are at a level of ten and your partner a four, agree on a sexual activity that both of you would be willing to experience.
Or ask “How tired are you on a scale of one to ten, ten being the highest?”, to better understand how your partner is feeling physically, the amount of emotional support expected of you that evening, as well as whether sex is a possibility.
Couples who have been together for some time say that they can gauge the ‘mood’ or even the response of their partner – most of the time. This is not fail proof. Unless you are a psychic or mind-reader, communication is indeed the key to a better sexual life.
How would you like to be able to communicate clearly, accurately, every single time on matters important to you? Consider using code words. A code word is a word or a phrase designed to convey a predetermined meaning to a receptive audience, while remaining inconspicuous to the uninitiated.
Take for instance: ‘Red’, ‘Yellow’ and ‘Green’.
No prizes for guessing that ‘Green’ means ‘Yes’, ‘Go ahead’, or ‘It’s okay’. ‘Yellow’ could represent ‘Slow down’, ‘You are in a danger zone’, or ‘Back up a bit’; whilst ‘Red’ is for ‘Stop right now’, ‘Danger’, or ‘No go’.
You can use code words to indicate arousal (getting there), plateau (don’t stop), or orgasm (release). They can state your level of readiness for penetrative sex or indicate a state of distress, such as if an anxiety or panic attack is about to happen.
You will do well to overcome any resistance in coming up with code words and using them if you explain that the use of code words does not mean you are not in love or distrust your partner, but simply a better way to communicate where you are. Code words help take the display of emotion out of your words.
Open- or closed-ended questions are simple enough to use. Incorporating a scale and code words to give or receive feedback might seem silly to you, yet they do work. Your partner needs to believe that you are receptive to sexual feedback. Encouraging your partner to open up and express sexual feelings and thoughts takes time. The more you communicate, the more you learn and understand about what makes your partner tick. Consequently, this increases your chances of having many wonderful sexual experiences. Keep at it. Good luck.
Dr. Martha Lee is Founder and Clinical Sexologist of Eros Coaching. She is a certified sexologist with a Doctorate in Human Sexuality. She provides sexuality and intimacy coaching for individuals and couples, conducts sexual education workshops and speaks at public events. For more, visit www.eroscoaching.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.