Intimate Young Couple‘It’s like he can read my mind.’

When it comes to relationships, we’ve all heard these words. Whether we said it ourselves or heard it from a friend gushing about a relationship, the ideal of a partner reading our minds is one that many women hope for and value in a dynamic.

The notion of mind reading in a relationship is appealing on many levels. It makes partners feel like they are intricately connected; like they are two halves of the same whole. It eliminates the need to be vulnerable in opening up. It removes the necessity of making needs known, something which many women struggle with as caretakers.

But the reality is that most people are not mind readers, and the expectation of mind reading is not only unrealistic but can be detrimental to relationships and cause conflict.  This issue especially manifests when it comes to having a satisfying sexual experience with a partner.

Movies and fantasy tend to depict a sexual experience where the partners intuitively know what feels good for the other one, but in real life that is often not the case. For most couples, developing a sexual dynamic entails patience and communication, both verbal and non-verbal, regarding what is pleasurable. Similar to two musicians who are meeting for the first time, it may take time and practice for them to work harmoniously together and adapt to each other’s strengths and preferences. (Read: Guide to first time sex for women)

Having to communicate with a partner regarding sexual pleasure does not automatically mark a relationship as inadequate or abnormal. On the contrary, it is normal and par for the course, and should be embraced as an integral part of constantly improving the relationship.

If you find it difficult to have a space to express to your partner what feels good, try using this exercise called Sensate Focus. Sensate Focus was originally created with the goal of removing intercourse as the primary objective of sexual activity, helps the couple connect through sensual touch, and provides a space to convey what does and doesn’t feel good.

There are different variations of the model, but generally speaking a couple starting sensate focus would begin by taking turns touching each other (e.g. ten minutes each). The ‘toucher’ doesn’t have to mind read what their partner does or doesn’t like, as there is constant communication between the partners about what feels good. Partners can communicate verbally (e.g. ‘this feels good’, ‘I like this’) and non-verbally (e.g. nodding, smiling), but verbal conversation should be limited so that partners can be fully present for the sensations and enhance their body awareness about what feels good.  Partners should strive to be closely connected to what is actually pleasurable, as opposed to what they have been conditioned by society to believe feels good. (Read: Guide to first-time sex for men)

The practice of sensate focus is effective as it is both an ends and a means. It is an ends in that it can be an enjoyable, sensual activity that allows partners to relax and receive pleasure without feeling like it must be reciprocated simultaneously. And it is a means to better understanding about what feels good, within a healthy and comfortable context, so that there doesn’t need to be mindreading. What may happen is that partners may become more attuned to each other’s non-verbal messages that something feels good, which can translate into better ‘body-reading’.

So, if you’re wishing your partner could read your mind in the bedroom, try this exercise and see what happens. You may be surprised at what you learn about yourself and your partner!

The author, Rachel Hercman, LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker) is a psychotherapist specializing in sexuality, dating, and relationships. She works at the Medical Center for Female Sexuality in New York, a center that provides cutting-edge medical and psychological treatment for female sexual dysfunction, where she helps women improve their sexual functioning, body image and relationship satisfaction.  

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  • s.k sharma

    please try me . full power with