Can NVC improve my sex life?
Better communication deepens emotional bonding.
People who choose to have sex with each other will enjoy a richer experience when they are also connected emotionally.
So, yes, NVC can improve your sex life.
A common obstacle to sexual enjoyment is emotional disconnection between people who are lovers.
In a similar way, disconnection from yourself can also represent a challenge.
Disconnection from yourself blocks sexual enjoyment — and how NVC helps
Disconnection from yourself can often mean that you are not present to the other person. For example, if you are experiencing shame — and in particular sexual shame — that is likely to block your enjoyment of a sexual moment.
NVC helps you overcome shame in the following way. First you clarify the messages you are telling yourself. (For example, “How could anybody want me? I’m so ____.”) You then translate what is essentially a violent message into a message of feelings and needs. (E.g.: “I feel sad because I want to be desired by my partner.”) Once you connect with your needs the shame usually shifts into something else. Perhaps there is disappointment or sadness, but no longer shame. Now there is a pathway forward to work with the feelings, needs, and then requests — whereas when you are in shame, learning and growing are blocked.
Being able to do this presupposes a certain fluency with feelings and needs language — which is why practicing NVC is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself for developing these skills.
When you unblock shame and shift it, you free up the energy to be present with yourself and others.
Connection with yourself and your lover is one of the keys to improving your sex life.
You miss the available depth of sexual communion when you are emotionally disconnected from your lover
If you and your lover just got in a fight and you are feeling disconnected from each other, that would likely get in the way of being fully present with or enjoying each other.
NVC helps you hear each other and re-connect. It fosters mutual understanding, trust, and emotional intimacy.
When you and your lover choose to be sexual from a place of self-connection as well as connection with each other, the potential of sexual union and communion becomes activated.
These are ways in which NVC contributes to improving your sex life.
How healthy relationships are maintained through Nonviolent Communication
Better communication results in a higher quality of connection. This manifests as more trust between you and the other person. It also means that it’s easier to extend grace and forgiveness when the other person is less-than-perfect.
When you have trust you are more likely to prevent and resolve misunderstandings and conflicts, whereas without trust it’s much more challenging.
Without trust it’s easy to question the other person’s motives or to assume the worst — and this can perpetuate a negative cycle.
With trust, you can ask, inquire, and check it out: is this why you did that? Or, help me understand…
With trust you can be yourself, you can be vulnerable — not in the sense of weak, but in the sense of real. You can be honest. And honesty builds more trust. This is a virtuous cycle.
When you have the intention and the skills to both deepen your relationships and navigate misunderstandings and conflicts, you are able to maintain healthy relationships.
NVC — as a consciousness — helps you stay clear on your intention so you can create the types of relationships you want.
NVC — as a set of tools — is something you can become skillful with so that you can build your confidence and be able to connect and repair consistently.
This is now healthy relationships are maintained through Nonviolent Communication. And healthy relationships are the foundation of the most fulfilling sexual love.
How communication by listening and responding to your partner can positively influence your relationship
If you are not truthful with your partner, and your partner is not truthful with you, then what quality of relationship do you have?
What creates the conditions for you and your partner to be honest with each other?
One essential element is non-judgmental listening! In NVC we call this type of listening empathic listening — because when you are heard and understood your need for empathy is satisfied or met.
One major challenge is that the culture teaches us to listen to respond rather than listen to understand!
Imagine you or your partner trying to respond effectively to the other without having actually understood what the other is feeling, needing, or wanting!
You can only be responsive to your partner in an effective way if you have understood clearly that to which you are responding!
When you and your partner both speak honestly and from the heart, and when you both listen to understand, this has a positive influence on your relationship because of how it enhances the quality of your connection.
This is how communication by listening and responding to your partner can positively influence your relationship.
Learn to talk about sex with your partner in order to maintain a healthy relationship
Sex represents a wide gamut of human experience. For some, it holds memories and experiences of joy and communion, while for others it is a source of deep pain and trauma.
By working through your own and the culture’s confusion around sex, by healing your shame and embarrassment, and by allowing for the understanding that sex is a natural part of life, you can destigmatize it and talk about it openly with your partner.
For many of us, the culture in which we grew up has taught us to be vague about sex. We feel uncomfortable or embarrassed to tell our lover what we like and don’t like.
One practice that will support you and your partner in talking about sex is to learn to be very specific.
As you work to de-shame and overcome the discomfort or embarrassment — and especially as you practice — talking about sex becomes easier and feels more natural.
By being specific, you can tell each other in a clear way what you like and don’t like, what you prefer, and what you yearn for.
Lacking specificity would be like telling your partner your back itches, and being unwilling to tell them where. In this type of scenario, they will be left guessing, or scratch your whole back most of which is not the place where you want to be scratched. Being willing to say things like “a little lower, to the left, a little less pressure,” will enhance your experience of receiving as well as your partner’s needs for contribution — and vice versa.
For many of us, our culture or traditions inhibit our ability to celebrate the body, touch, and sexuality.
Touch — and not necessarily sexual touch, but just touch… platonic human-to-human touch — is a Universal Human Need.
Many of us don’t realize how chronically under-touched we are! And we have phobias and inhibitions about the body.
People who attend nudist or naturist beaches and resorts report something remarkable. Normalizing the fact that everybody has a body, and that bodies come in all shapes and sizes, de-sexualizes nudity.
Being touch-positive and body-positive is the opposite of being disgusted, ashamed, or alarmed by the human body and safe, consensual touch.
It’s similar to the term sex-positive. Being sex-negative means that one is suppressing natural sexuality through shame or disgust or even a rejection of what is normal and natural. Being sex-positive means celebrating consensual sex as a healthy part of life.
With the rarest of exceptions, every person in existence is here because their parents had sex.
None of us is a sexual object, but we are sexual beings.
Betty Martin’s Wheel of Consent
The Wheel of Consent is a tool developed by Dr. Betty Martin, and while it is not strictly NVC, it is consistent with it.
The Wheel of Consent gives us a lens to look at strategies for how we handle touch and consent in a healthy way that meets many needs, including safety, clarity, connection, and autonomy.
Here is a PDF image of the Wheel of Consent as offered for free on her website (BettyMartin.org)
When you speak with honesty about what you like and dislike — as well as your fears, boundaries, desires, and preferences — you and your partner can more easily get on the same page, and respond to each other more effectively.
Using NVC to speak and listen from the heart is an enjoyable way to prevent and resolve misunderstandings and conflicts related to sex.
These are various ways in which learning to talk about sex contributes to maintaining a healthy relationship.
Use Nonviolent Communication to communicate your needs.
You can use Nonviolent Communication (NVC) to communicate your needs!
However, NVC defines needs in a very specific way!
What are needs in NVC?
In NVC the word needs refers to Universal Human Needs, which are defined variously as:
– the conditions necessary for life to thrive in any human being, regardless of culture or geography;
– core human motivators which impel us to act;
– how Life is seeking to show up in this moment — in you or me or any person;
– energies that want to flow, not holes to be filled.
Needs vs strategies
One key differentiation in NVC is the distinction between needs and strategies.
Strategies are defined as the ways we go about meeting needs — which are not universal.
Understanding this differentiation has many benefits.
When we can separate needs and strategies we can reduce our attachment to a specific strategy and open up other avenues of meeting the same needs.
This is especially valuable in conflict resolution. NVC asserts that needs themselves are not in conflict — only the strategies are in conflict.
By separating these two, you can connect with your partner about the deeper needs (or values), and then co-create the strategies that will fulfill or satisfy all the present needs.
Co-created strategies are mutually satisfying and more durable.
As an NVC practitioner, you can be flexible on the strategies without letting go of the underlying needs.
NVC helps you communicate your needs, hear the other’s needs, and together create strategies and outcomes of mutual benefit, enjoyment and satisfaction.
Keeping a spark in your relationship is heavily influenced by communicating with your partner
If you and your partner are feeling disconnected from each other there is unlikely to be a spark in your relationship. Or the spark is only surface-level and ultimately dissatisfying.
A one-sided spark is not actually a spark between people. We advise against and cannot condone engaging in sensual, erotic, or sexual touch without consent — which would be a violation of another’s space, integrity, freedom, and possibly safety.
Clear communication leads to connection on all levels: intellectual, emotional, and perhaps even spiritual (if that is a word that holds meaning for you).
This alignment of levels within yourself, within your lover, and then with each other, is a joyous spark.
Having good communication with your partner heavily influences keeping that positive spark in your relationship.
“Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love, and then, for a second time in the history of the world, humans will have discovered fire.”
— Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, (1 May 1881 – 10 April 1955) French Jesuit priest, scientist, paleontologist, theologian, philosopher and teacher.
Learn to create emotional intimacy with your partner through NVC, increasing closeness and easing communication
Reading about NVC can be valuable. Without understanding the tools and how to use them, you can’t get all the benefits NVC provides. The intellectual or conceptual understanding helps you use the tools in an effective way.
However, this can sometimes amount to the equivalent of reading the menu rather than tasting the food — or reading about swimming and never touching the water.
Ultimately, reading about swimming has its limitations and you need to get in the water!
Only by trying to live NVC in real life will your skills grow. It takes practice to develop the kind of skill that helps you in day-to-day and even unforeseen situations.
At some point you take NVC out of the reading-about-it context, and even take it out of the workshop setting — and into real life.
3 ingredients for acquiring fluency in NVC
To become fluent in NVC and fluid in its practice requires three things:
1) Interior clarity:
This refers to knowing yourself in any given moment, especially your feelings, intentions, motivations, values, needs, and wants. NVC supports this interior clarity which in turn supports your growth in NVC.
2) A community of support:
Many people have both home and work environments which are life-disconnected — ruled by demands, obligation, and in which there is criticism, blame, and even justification of punishment.
It’s very difficult to advance in NVC under these conditions. This is why a community of support is essential.
Even in situations in which work and home are life-connected and life-serving spaces, a community of support is necessary both for empathic support and for ongoing skill-building.
A community of support can look many ways: it can include “empathy buddies,” an NVC practice group, or people outside of your intimate relationship who you both trust and to whom either of you could turn at a moment’s notice for empathic support with the intention of contributing to your relationship.
3) Practice, practice, practice
One mindset that will support your growth in NVC is the willingness to take imperfect action.
Let go of perfection and even “doing it right.” Prioritize connection rather than “speaking NVC correctly.”
Start where you are, use what you have, and do what you can. Practice makes better.
Only through practice does NVC become second-nature. Through practice, responding with empathic listening and vulnerable honesty can become the new natural.
Resources for learning, practicing, and implementing NVC
Here are some resources for you to deepen in your learning of NVC with Certified Trainers:
The Center for Nonviolent Communication (CNVC):
Kalapa School for Changemakers (whose core-team includes two CNVC Certified Trainers and in which NVC is a core component): https://theKalapa.com
There may be others — and we recommend doing a search for NVC in your local area.
Using Nonviolent Communication to enhance sexual desire between you and your partner.
If you want to enhance sexual desire between you and your partner then strengthening the connection on all levels will help.
Nonviolent Communication (NVC) is your ally in helping to strengthen the connection!
If there is no emotional connection then desire is superficial and will end up feeling dissatisfying.
Using the skills of NVC in your relationship will contribute to emotional closeness, a necessary condition for deeply satisfying sexual love.
How Nonviolent Communication is used to increase sexual pleasure in intimate relationships.
Be aware of your trauma and your shame and then resolve to do something about it.
Sexual pleasure in intimate relationships will work best with a partner who shares your level of commitment to clear communication.
It can be equally frustrating to be mismatched if you want more practice, more structure, and more clarity — or whether it’s your partner who is asking you to step up your game and, for whatever reason, you don’t really want to or feel under-prepared. Both ways can be frustrating and disappointing.
Learn to be specific about sex with your partner. I like this and I don’t like that.
Separate the strategies from the needs, as we discussed above.
The more you’re willing to do the difficult work out of bed, the less will come up to resolve when you’re in bed.
Only your proper understanding of the NVC tools — and the work you do to become skillful with those tools — will enable you to use Nonviolent Communication to increase sexual pleasure in intimate relationships.
How to Enjoy Bad Sex — Dr. Marshall Rosenberg on NVC & Sex
Dr. Marshall Rosenberg had a sharp sense of humor!
He occasionally led a workshop he titled, How to Enjoy Bad Sex — which was all about the conversations we can have with our partner(s) in relation to sex!
He understood how challenging these conversations can be, and would help people de-stigmatize and normalize that difficulty by acknowledging the reality of it.
His work has helped millions of people understand shame more clearly, and how to neutralize and transform it into something more life-serving.
Sometimes these workshops included extremely awkward — and often humorous — scenarios with participants role-playing as if they were partners having a tricky conversation about sex.
In the end, people came away with more confidence, understanding that this might be more doable than they thought.
Beyond confidence, participants emerged with a greater understanding of the tools as well as an enhanced skill-level for getting through difficult conversations — especially those that would emerge when a sexual encounter didn’t go as planned or as someone wished or desired.
PuddleDancer Press Books on NVC and Sexuality
PuddleDancer Press is the foremost proponent and publisher of books on Nonviolent Communication and sexuality.
NVC has shown time and again that human beings are capable of enjoying each other more by creating mutually desired intimacy and crafting mutually satisfying situations.
Because of the trust-building process involved, and the fact that the solutions include everybody’s buy-in, using NVC in relation to sexuality predictably gives us outcomes that meet a greater number of needs and are more durable.
Our books on communication skills and sexuality can help you:
- Create exceptional relationships,
- Offer compassionate understanding to others,
- Know when and how to ask for that same understanding for yourself,
- Prevent and resolve misunderstandings and conflicts,
- Speak your truth in a clear, powerful way more likely to lead to harmony than conflict,
- Create mutual understanding without coercion.
Whether you are a long-time student — or are brand new to NVC — PuddleDancer Press has the educational resources, including the books on sexuality, to help you grow your emotional intelligence, interpersonal skills, and communication prowess.
Check out our catalog of books on sexuality… and give yourself the gift of Compassionate Communication!