Talking With Your Partner About Sex and Intimacy

Updated 
August 31, 2015

Talking about sex and intimacy concerns with your partner can be difficult no matter what. Even couples in the strongest relationships can find these conversations awkward or uncomfortable, because they can leave you feeling embarrassed or vulnerable.

But talking about these issues and how they relate to your breast cancer experience can be important to keeping your relationship strong, and help you continue to enjoy sex and intimacy.

Talk about physical touch and your sexual relationship. Try to be open about any fears of rejection, lack of desire or discomfort you feel.

Realize your partner also may have concerns. Your partner might

  • be unsure how to best show support and affection
  • wait for your direction about when to resume a sexual relationship
  • worry about hurting you or causing you pain from touching

Talking openly and honestly can help. Some tips:

  • Just start talking. Discussing friends or common interests can make it easier to bring the conversation around to your fears or the importance of your romantic relationship.
    • Even if your partner isn’t a good talker, that doesn’t mean he or she isn’t listening. Make eye contact and touch your partner as you speak, to give your words greater meaning.
    • Choose a quiet time to talk, with less chance of interruptions.
  • Reassure your partner. Make it clear you want to know your partner’s concerns. This sends the message you are in the situation together.
    • Don’t assume your partner’s silence means he or she doesn’t care. Your partner may not want to burden you with his or her fears about your health, or simply may not know what to say. 
  • Write down your concerns. Sometimes writing a letter and giving it to your partner is easier than saying the words face to face.
    • After your partner reads the letter, find a quiet time to talk about what you wrote.
  • Be clear with each other. Let your partner know where you do, and don’t, want to be touched. If your partner worries about hurting you, agree on a signal you will use if you feel pain.
    • It’s also important to let your partner know when something feels good.
  • Use touch. Physical closeness, giving and getting a hug or kiss, or holding hands can help you stay connected.

You might want to seek advice from a couples counselor or sex therapist. You could also join a support groupinfo-icon. Do either on your own, or together.

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