Are you and your partner struggling with intimacy?
Sex can be a difficult subject to talk about. Some people feel embarrassed to talk about it, while others struggle to understand the importance of talking about it in the first place.
Whether you’re in a new relationship or a 20-year old marriage, sex is something that you and your partner need to discuss. More often than not, long-term partners stop having sex, which leads to unhappy relationships and disappointment. In other cases, the individual needs of each partner aren’t discussed, which leads to one person taking, taking, taking, while the other person is just giving, giving, giving.
Here’s the bottom line: We need to communicate better about sex.
But how do we go about that? Today on The School of Greatness, I have the perfect person to help us start these conversations and move towards sexual healing and fulfillment. Dr. Emily Morse is a sex therapist and a Doctor of Human Sexuality, and she has made it her mission to normalize conversations about sex.
As a Doctor of Human Sexuality, Emily Morse is on a mission to liberate the conversation about sex and pleasure. Over the last 15 years, Dr. Emily’s work has made her the best-selling author of Hot Sex: Over 200 Things You Can Try Tonight, a pioneering MasterClass instructor on Sex and Communication, live SiriusXM radio host and executive producer, and host of the #1 Sexuality podcast on iTunes, Sex With Emily. Sex With Emily is the longest-running sex and relationship podcast and an endeavor that Dr. Emily has grown into a thriving media company.
Dr. Emily has helped millions of people around the world navigate their sex lives. Her candid conversations challenge cultural taboos, misinformation, and awkward sex talks to create a future where people can deeply connect and embrace pleasure-filled lives.
Emily believes that sexual healing is essential for pleasure and physically intimate relationships but also for complete healing as an individual:
“Pleasure is your birthright. And we all deserve to have pleasure. We prioritize so many other things, work, family, home, and usually, we put ourselves last. I believe that [when] we heal ourselves sexually, we will heal so many other parts of our life.” – Emily Morse
In this interview, Dr. Emily and I covered many important subjects, including how to upgrade your sex life, restore intimacy with your partner, and communicate your needs and desires confidently. We also talked about how greatness is about giving more than receiving. This is a conversation you don’t want to miss, so let’s get started!
I think most people — if not everyone — reading this would say that they want a fun and fulfilling sex life. They would probably also agree that communication is an essential part of any relationship. What Emily has discovered after over 15 years of studying and teaching others about sex is that communication is the secret to thriving sex life.
“If couples do not talk about sex and they don’t prioritize their sex life, and they just assume it’s always going to be how it was during the honeymoon phase. … It’s going to fall apart.” – Emily Morse
Just like any good thing, sex rarely stays good without maintenance. Take an athlete, for example — they have an incredible fitness level and elite skills, but their fitness level will decrease if they don’t keep prioritizing it. And guess what athletes talk about a lot? Their sport, training, strategy, or recovery. They talk about it because it’s important to them.
If having an epic sex life with your partner is important, you need to prioritize it and talk about it. But just because prioritizing and talking about sex is important doesn’t mean it’s always going to feel like a comfortable conversation. Many of us are carrying sexual wounds and lack education beyond “how to make a baby.” But that’s exactly why Emily said we need to have the conversations.
“[Talking about sex is] always uncomfortable at times. … It’s not comfortable for anyone to talk about sex because we don’t have role models of people talking about sex. We had zero sex education … if [we] did, it wasn’t accurate, and … there are all these things that we’ve learned about sex that are untrue. And one of those is, ‘If you have to talk about sex, it means that there is a problem. And that’s when you should just call it quits [on a relationship].’” – Emily Morse
Feeling like you need to talk about sex with your partner doesn’t mean your sex life is broken or irreparable. More often than not, it means that there’s room for improvement — it can get better! Having that uncomfortable conversation will help both partners know what to do to heat things up in the bedroom again.
While talking about sex is uncomfortable, Emily does have three T’s to follow when having this conversation. Using these three T’s will help you be more confident, know what to say, and guide the conversation in the most positive direction possible. They are “timing, tone, and turf.”
#1. Timing. When you have a conversation about sex with your partner, the “when” is almost as important as what you say and where you say it. Emily recommended using the HALT acronym to choose the right time:
“Here’s an easy way to remember. Don’t [have the conversation] when you’re HALT — hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. [You should be] chilling [or] hanging out. [Make sure] you’re in a really good space. That’s why being outside in nature or going on a road trip [are good options].” – Emily Morse
In other words, plan for your sex conversation. Don’t have it in the middle of an argument with your partner. Allow yourself to cool down and think through exactly what you desire and want to say. Then approach the conversation with an open mind, which leads to the next “T” — tone.
#2. Tone. When you approach this conversation, keep in mind that it’s uncomfortable for the other person involved, too, not just you. Emily said it’s important to avoid the following three phrases:
“Tone is everything for everyone because here’s the thing, [if someone says,] ‘You never initiate sex. You never want to have sex with me. How come you don’t go down on me.’ … The second anyone does that, whether it’s … in the boardroom or the bedroom, you’re going to get a defensive reaction.” – Emily Morse
To avoid triggering a defensive response, Emily recommended using a collaborative tone that invites discussion and communicates a desire to understand the other person.
“Your tone has to be curious and open and light and collaborative, like, … ‘Hey, I realized we, you know, we [haven’t] talked about our intimate life — our sex life, lately. … So … what are some things that have been working for you?’ … The tone is never aggressive, hostile, blaming.” – Emily Morse
The tone you use to communicate can make or break this kind of conversation. Choose your words carefully, and don’t make it all about yourself and your needs. A relationship — especially an intimate one — is a two-way street. If you want to be heard, make sure your partner feels heard, too.
#3. Turf. Just like your goal for “timing” and “tone” was to keep things light and collaborative, you want to keep both of those things in mind when choosing a place to have this conversation. Emily said her location suggestions surprise most people.
“Now, this might surprise you because most people think that you should talk about [sex] when in a bedroom. … The bedroom, I believe, is [for] sleeping and sex, not to have deep conversations. But we usually think, ‘If sex is in my mind right now, we should talk about it.’ [Instead,] wait till it’s a [litte] remove[d] … so you can actually have a productive conversation.” – Emily Morse
This is why having your sex conversation over dinner, going for a walk outside, or when you’re on a road trip like Emily mentioned earlier, is a good idea. All of those places are removed from the bedroom. Another good reason to have this conversation removed from the bedroom and following sex is that, after sex, Emily said, we don’t remember things.
“Our mind is in an altered state [after sex] because of the hormones and the chemicals that happened with arousal and orgasm.” – Emily Morse
In summary, try to avoid having a conversation about sex with your partner in the bedroom. Instead, choose an activity where the two of you are together but don’t have to look directly into each other’s eyes.
Countless listeners call into Emily’s podcast or write her telling her how communication improved their sex life in unimaginable ways. So if you still doubt yourself, I’m telling you right now: You are capable of having this uncomfortable conversation with your partner. Better yet, you will most likely be happy that you found the right time, tone, and turf to have this conversation!
Guys, this interview is packed with so much greatness! In her typical compassion and candor, Emily shared eye-opening perspectives on sexuality and an abundance of practical tips to upgrade physical and emotional intimacy with your partner. If you enjoyed what you learned here, make sure you listen to the whole episode where we dove into why men and women cheat, how to keep your sexual desire flowing, and what mindful masturbation is.
Personally, here’s what I hope you get from today’s message: You deserve a satisfying sex life, and you are capable of having it. That doesn’t mean it will come easily or without uncomfortable conversations. But just like any other great thing in life, it is possible if you work for it. So, go work for it!
If you want to learn more from Emily, make sure you connect with her on Instagram and subscribe to her podcast, Sex with Emily. And, if you’re ready to take things to the next level right now, Emily has all sorts of guides on her website, including The Three T’s, and Yes, No, Maybe: A List Every Couple Needs.
When I asked Emily what her definition of greatness was I loved that she emphasized communication and giving more than you receive:
“Be kind and work hard. Stick with your beliefs [and] surround yourself with good people. Communicate your mission. Give as much as you receive, in fact, give more than you receive. That’s greatness.” – Emily Morse
If you’re chasing greatness this year and ready to accomplish your goals, no matter what, I have something for you! My newest program, The Greatness Coaching, is your high-performance system for 2021 and beyond. It includes coaching, accountability, community, and my Greatness Playbook, where I guide you through reflecting, planning, and creating goals that align with your values and move you toward your dreams! If this sounds like something you’ve been looking for, you can learn more and apply to the program here.
Two more things before I go. If you got something from today’s message, please share it with someone you know. Just take a screenshot of this and share it on Instagram. Tag us both — Emily, @sexwithemily, and me, @lewishowes — and let us know what your biggest takeaway was.
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Thanks for joining me today. I’m so grateful you spent your time with me!