Why is it that it's so simple to express your craving for double chocolate gelato, but when it comes to being vocal about sex, you feel a little uneasy? The truth is, it can be tough to tell your partner that you're not exactly feeling it when the two of you are between the sheets. But that doesn't stop you from wondering, "How do I tell my husband I'm not satisfied in bed?" Experts say it's a little complicated.
"Getting what you want and need sexually is not easy," Britanny Burr, editor at large and relationship expert for Psych N Sex, tells Romper in an email interview. "It's tragic, but it's true." Burr says she believes part of the sexual dissatisfaction is the result of women feeling a pressure to be overly expressive, "screaming and moaning during every sexual encounter."
"Because pornography and movies show us that this is how women should act in bed, we feel like we should do so even when we're not particularly enjoying ourselves," she says.
Of course, the problem with faking orgasms or "acting" in this sort of way is that your partner thinks you are getting exactly what you want, Burr says. "Therefore, making the conversation a lot more difficult if they think they've been rocking your world all along."
For that reason, she recommends women first and foremost only react with pleasure when they are actually feeling pleasure. By doing so, your man will hopefully recognize these responses and what triggers them, and then do that specific thing more often.
Jonathan Bennett, a certified counselor in Columbus, Ohio and creator of The Popular Man, says that while the conversation about your lack of satisfaction in bed might not be easy, it "might be a necessity for your own happiness." For that reason, he says it's important to approach the topic as a team.
"Even if you know most of the blame rests on your partner, expressing that will only create defensiveness," Bennett tells Romper in an email interview. "Instead, approach the topic as something you’re both going to work on — as a team. Framing it as 'improving your sex life as a couple' rather than your partner's personal failing will make him or her more likely to accept it. Plus, even you likely have room to improve."
Like Bennett, Burr says the conversation does not have to take a negative tone and instead can be approached by saying something like, "Do you know what we should try?" or "I want you to ... "
"This way the conversation is sexy rather than discouraging," she says. "If they do something you like, tell them. If they do something you don't like, don't act like you like it. It's that simple."
Bennett agrees, adding that if you’re going to express your displeasure with your sex life, then make sure you also come to the table with suggestions for improvement, like different positions or experimentation. "Simply having a talk explaining what’s wrong could come across as overly negative or a personal attack," he says. "Coming up with viable solutions in advance shows that you aren’t simply complaining about your partner, but proactively trying to make the relationship better."
At the end of the day, Bennett says it all comes down to the Pavlov's Dog theory of response to the stimulus. That means if your partner hears you moaning, they're likely to repeat what made it happen. "So stop faking orgasms, celebrate the positives, and ask for what you want without putting them down," she says. Sounds easy enough, right?
Check out Romper's new video series, Romper's Doula Diaries:
Check out the entire Romper's Doula Diaries series and other videos on Facebook and the Bustle app across Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV.