About the Post

Author Information

Alexander has been contributing for THS for over a year! While he attained a major in communications at SFU, he also recieved a minor in Psychology. Despite those accomplishments, Alex has also never had a full cup of coffee (crazy right?!). Alex is a lifelong sports fan and will defend his Seattle Seahawks to the death, especially if faced against a 49er fan. While Alex's long-term goal is to become a marriage counsellor, he also has a strong passion towards writing that he looks forward to exploring.

Respexuality: The Role of Respect and Communication in Sex

Photo Credit: Martijn van Dalen/The World According to Marty (Flickr)

What does it mean to have a healthy sexual relationship? When I was first taught about sexuality, it was not by some crumpled magazine or my sister’s Cosmopolitan—instead, it was from my fourth grade Catholic teacher.

Sex was simply something to not be done, except with the person you marry and the idea of sexual compatibility was never discussed. Once married, you could have that element but you should know how to communicate about your sexuality because it’s an ever growing facet of any relationship. Intimacy is a complex and varied aspect that plays a monumental factor in your overall relationships happiness. A healthy sex life is whatever you and your partner decide it to be—but you need to decide that together.

As people and relationships get older, so do their sexual preferences. The way to properly explore these different avenues is to ensure there is respect between you and your partner. Through respect comes the element of trust and communication that gets strengthened over time. These elements help make sexuality a topic to be freely discussed without being judged by your partner; and through that your connection will grow.

I knew respect was the key part of any relationship when I first heard Aretha Franklin belting it out. I was told that respect meant making sure the other person knew they were heard when they spoke, and that you too would be heard when you needed to talk. It meant never having to push one’s boundaries and making sure that ultimately, it was the other person’s comfort levels that you needed to always be aware of.

These skills of treating your partner are never more paramount than when you are in the bedroom. When you respect your partner in the bedroom you are creating a safe space with which to talk. You are enabling them to be open with you which can be monumental as you bond through intimacy. With that openness and respect comes a deepening of comfort and knowledge that you are both safe. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment, and that’s why you and your partner need to make sure you have communicated your boundaries beforehand. Through this communication not only is your foundation deepening, but you are viewing sex as something to be safe and shared with each other—not an act that leaves one of you feeling disrespected.

The Anti-Violence Project is run out of the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada and promotes respect as being an element that comes from communication. The program stresses the importance of checking in with one another in order to make sure both parties are feeling safe. While consent is often seen as just saying “NO”, the AVP makes people aware that submission is not consent and it is only through respect and communication that both parties can get the acceptance that they are okay and respected. As sex becomes routine for some couples, it may be easier to forget the importance of treating each other with respect or lessening the amount of time actually communicating about one’s sexual needs. Nonetheless, by making sure both partners know they are respected, you are further promoting the idea that you can be close and still communicate your needs, without them being ignored.

When this lack of respect starts infiltrating the bedroom, you might start feeling like it is your obligation to have sex. You may ultimately feel that if you don’t respect your partner’s wishes or desires, that it would cause a rift in your relationship that would be unable to be repaired. You may also feel an inability to express your own desires because you do not know if your partner will respect you. Sex is an incredibly vulnerable thing, both emotionally and physically. It is important that it is never an act done for the other person, but rather with the other person in a respected and safe environment.

As this respect in your relationship deepens, so does your overall level of trust. Trust can be as simple as knowing that you won’t see your latest exploits on Facebook. The importance of trust allows you to start feeling safer to communicate your needs with your partner both inside and outside of the bedroom. Once you start feeling safe, you are then able to explore your own sexual preferences knowing that respect is already there. When you are able to start trusting and expanding with your partner, not only will your partnership deepen, but so will the knowledge that you can be vulnerable with one another. Sex can be embarrassing, but those embarrassing moments can become bonding moments if you have the comfortability that comes from trust and respect.

Sex is not a straight line. There is no ‘one master way’ to do it (or so says Google) and there is no telling on a day to day basis what you and your partner may or may not be up for. What that means is that every day it gives you and your partner time to work on the skills of respect and communication. For a healthy relationship to continue to grow, it is important to be comfortable to have discussions about sexuality with your partner. Everyone has their own preferences and even more people have no idea what they do or do not like. It is that personalization and ambiguity that can make sexual exploration a fun aspect of any healthy relationship but can tear apart a relationship if either person does not feel heard.

Robert Weiss, Senior Vice President of Clinical Development and Elements Behavioral Health wrote for The Huffington Post about how much sex is truly deemed ‘healthy’. Weiss stresses how communication with your partner is the only true way to find out if you are having sex a healthy amount. There is no magic number and a healthy sex life, as Weiss points out, but rather, whatever works for you and your partner. Though everyone’s sex drive is different, it is important to communicate your needs to your partner. Through making each other aware of your own needs, it can help lead the way for a healthier sex life.

As relationships get older, the risk of sex becoming stagnant or repetitive may start to arise. However, as Weiss points out, that is not necessarily a bad thing. Everyone’s preferences or needs in a relationship are different and not everyone needs sex all of the time, or as frequently as they once did (with younger libidos, mind you). What is important is that both partners are feeling respected and trusted. If you have those elements and want to explore, then sexuality can become an active effort on both of your parts to learn and grow.

Happiness from physicality can come from eye contact, to hand holding, to getting your partner ice-cream during a good Netflix marathon. But in any act within your relationship, respect and trust must always there. There is no shortage of ways to express your love and ensuring your sexual relationship is healthy comes from the communication to know you are always, safe, respected and trusted.

Tags: , , , , , ,

No comments yet.

Leave A Reply [Invalid Emails Will Be Marked As Spam]

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: