Silence can be good, if it’s a comfortable silence. But when we are uncomfortably silent with our partner, especially in the bedroom, we lose the intimacy that is so important in our relationship. In this episode, I talk about the good and bad of silent sex. I share with you some real life examples of uncomfortable silence during sex and what it does to our relationships. Intimacy issues are one of the biggest reasons women come to me for coaching. Are you lacking intimacy in your relationship?
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References for this episode:
Silent Sex Queen – We Can Do Hard Things with Glennon Doyle
Orgasm: Pleasure in the Final Frontier – We Can Do Hard Things with Glennon Doyle
I was recently reading a new release by my favorite writing duo Mindy Michelle called The Archer and His Rosebud. One of the main characters, Archer, was given some sage advice by his grandma. She always said “The perfect partner [is] someone you could sit with in silence, but when they leave the room you miss them, because they resonate with your soul even in silence.” I absolutely loved that sentiment and it reminded me a lot of my own marriage. Kevin and I can often be silent and it’s totally ok. If you love good books, go check out Mindy Michele. I love the books they co-write and the books they write on their own. I’ve linked them in the show notes.
This also reminded me of a couple of podcasts I heard recently. On We Can Do Hard Things with Glennon Doyle she dubbed herself the Silent Sex Queen. She also said something profound in another episode on orgasms and pleasure. She said “It is easier for me to let you into my vagina than into my mind.”
And Dr. David Schnarch in Secrets of Passionate Marriage says that after you’ve been married a while it often seems you have nothing left to say because you’ve said everything that is comfortable and you don’t want to talk about the things that are uncomfortable.
There are two kinds of silence…uncomfortable silence and comfortable silence. And when it comes to sex, the type of silence you are experiencing usually comes down to intimacy. Do you have so much intimacy that you don’t need words or are you avoiding it by not talking?
Let’s first talk about uncomfortable silence.
Sex is often silent because there is a lack of intimacy. And when I say intimacy I mean that either one or both partners do not want to be fully known or fully know their partner. Let me give you some examples to make this more clear. I’m going to be using real life scenarios that clients have told me but of course the names have been changed.
1 We are silent because we don’t like what is happening yet we don’t feel comfortable telling our spouse what we don’t like. Either we don’t want to hurt their feelings or maybe we don’t want to suffer the consequences of what will happen if we are vocal about not liking something. Sometimes we don’t feel safe sharing with them what we are thinking and feeling because of past reactions.
In the past, Mindy tried telling Cory what felt good and what didn’t. But whenever something didn’t feel good and she expressed it she could instantly tell that Cory’s feelings were hurt and then he would kind of sulk for a few days afterwards. It got to the point where Mindy just didn’t tell him anymore because she cared about his feelings and also didn’t want the sulking afterwards. She didn’t feel she could be honest with him because he took everything so personal instead of just taking it as information and adjusting, so she just quit talking altogether. Ultimately she decided she didn’t feel safe communicating to him because of how he reacted when she did.
2 We are silent because we’ve told our spouse over and over what we like and don’t like and they do what they want anyway.
Every time Josh wanted to have sex he would start touching and groping Alisha’s breasts and vulva. Alisha had told him over and over that it didn’t feel good to touch her there until she was already warmed up, but he continued to do it anyway. After a while, Alisha began to feel that no matter what she said, it didn’t matter to him, so she just quit saying anything.
3 We are silent because we don’t want to ruin it with talking
The thought of talking with Susan’s husband during sex sounded appealing, but every time he talked it didn’t come out or sound like what she thought it would in her head and so it became a turn off instead of a turn on.
4 We are silent because we are worried that it will sound weird or our spouse won’t understand what we want or they will make fun of us. We are afraid of feeling embarrassed about what our true desires are.
Emily was afraid to talk in bed because she thought it would be embarrassing and was afraid her husband would make fun of her (even though realistically she knew he wouldn’t). She was self conscious about making noises or using words, so she stayed silent, even though her husband encouraged her to speak up.
5 We are silent because we just want to get it over with
Laura didn’t enjoy sex, but felt like she needed to do it to satisfy her husbands needs. So she stayed silent and just let him do what he wanted to get it over as quickly as possible.
6 We are silent because we see sex as something you do to another person, instead of something you share and create.
Nicole’s husband had watched porn for many, many years. He didn’t understand that sex was something that could be shared between two people. It was all about him getting his orgasm instead of creating something beautiful together. It was more about objectification, Nicole was an object with no thoughts or feelings. She was just someone to be sexual with.
All of these are examples of uncomfortable silence. There is no intimacy. No connection. We aren’t saying what needs to be said. These are real stories I’ve heard from clients and many times a large part of why they came into coaching, because they wanted more intimacy and connection with sex and didn’t want this uncomfortable silence to continue to happen.
Sometimes, to avoid the uncomfortable silence and avoid intimacy, we play music or even make noises when we don’t mean it. I’ve heard plenty of times how women moan and say how much they are enjoying it, they put on a show to boost their partner’s ego, because they think it’s their job to turn on their partner, to get it over with quicker, or to just avoid the discomfort of silence. A 2011 study that surveyed women between ages 18 and 46 discovered that 66 percent of them moaned to speed up their partner’s climax, and 87 percent did so to boost the man’s self-esteem. (CNN) None of these things are honest or helpful. When the intimacy isn’t there, talking or noise can disconnect you further from your partner.
Now let’s talk about comfortable silence. Comfortable silence comes when the intimacy is there so much that you don’t even need words to communicate. Let me give you 5 reasons why silent sex, with true intimacy can be awesome.
1 It becomes all about body language
Now this happens, when you can feel comfortable enough to have the lights on and really connect with sex. You can tell just by looking them in the eyes how much they want you and desire you. Eye contact, facial expressions, and body language are often all you need to get your desire across to your spouse in a truly connecting way. The silence can be all about exploring each other and paying attention to all the ways their body is saying YES!
2 You learn to use your words
Now this one isn’t totally silent, but using words to communicate what you want and mean can make things even better. For example, if you say “Oh” during sex, it could mean so many different things. It could mean “I’m going to come.” It could mean “that hurts.” It could mean “that felt good, keep going.” But if you actually use the words your partner knows exactly what’s going on and is going to act accordingly. Being able to speak what you mean takes confidence in the bedroom.
3 Fine-tuning your senses
When there isn’t a lot of extraneous noise, your ears become more fine-tuned to subtle sounds. Your partner’s breathing, your bodies rubbing against each other, the rustle of the sheets. That can be really hot!
4 It takes you out of your head
So many women are worried about their performance (how they look, are they moving right, are they sounding right) that they do what we call spectatoring (watching themselves have sex) instead of being immersed in it and experiencing what is actually going on. In other words, they are in their head instead of in their body. When you stop caring how you sound (or don’t sound) to your partner, you can start focusing on how you feel. Staying in your body and not in your head makes sex so much better.
5 You can have sex while other are in close proximity
How many times have you avoided sex because you didn’t want your kids to hear or wake up? What about avoiding it when you are at your parents or in-laws house? When sex is silent, you can have sex wherever you want without letting anyone else know. Quiet sex can be hot. It also can bring in that sense of the forbidden, when you are doing it but trying not to get caught!
There’s a difference between having silent sex because you don’t want to disturb people and are trying to be discreet and having silent sex because you are ashamed and don’t want anyone to know.
Me personally, I’m a big fan of NOT silent sex. In fact, one of the things I teach in my program in the importance of sounding to help increase erotic energy and arousal. Women have been silenced and shamed for sex for many, many years. I’m all for sexual expression in whatever way feels best to you. But I do understand there is a time and a place for silence. And what truly makes the difference is the intimacy and the emotion behind it. Is it because you are ashamed, embarrassed, or don’t want to connect with your partner, or you are doing it in such a way to communicate your love, intimacy, passion, and connection to your partner through your body that you don’t even need words. Only you can know.