Why Is It So Hard to Talk About Sex?

Why Is It So Hard to Talk About Sex? April 16, 2024

Let’s be honest: Conversations (or blogs!) about sex can seem embarrassing or vulnerable. And yet, for married couples, our research has found that talking about sex clearly matters.

In fact, in the largest nationally representative study ever conducted with married couples about sex – which grew into a book I coauthored with Dr. Michael Sytsma called Secrets of Sex & Marriage – we found that a full 73% of couples don’t talk about sex well, Mostly because it’s too awkward or difficult. But our research confirms that couples who do communicate openly about sex are measurably happier in their marriages (in fact 89% are in the highest rungs of marital happiness.)

Let me say that again: couples who can learn to communicate about sexual intimacy are far more likely to be happy in their marriage.

Consider this all-too-common-scenario between a representative couple I’ll call Brad and Susan. Brad slides into bed and begins to rub his wife’s back. He’s been feeling disconnected from her and hopes to bridge the gap between them with physical intimacy. Susan pulls away, her utter exhaustion winning out over concern about any rejection he may feel. Plus … had he even asked about her day?

His heart sinks with disappointment. She feels emotionally lonely. And their distance deepens.

No words are spoken. But plenty is said.

So what’s clogging up our communication on this topic? Here are three research-based reasons we steer clear of talking about sex – and ideas for eliminating the roadblocks.


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