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Sunday, April 21, 2024

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NATHANIEL J HALL: Let’s Talk About Sex

Theatremaker Nathaniel J Hall has some words of wisdom for couples when it’s gone all quiet on the bedroom front.

My partner and I have had a lot of great sex. And as someone who has a very complicated sexual history (dear reader, you would need an entire magazine
to even scratch the surface), when we met, I was relieved to find that there was still great sex to be had after sexual (and relationship) trauma.

But more recently, my partner and I have had a quiet spell in the bedroom. Hey, after three years, a mortgage, and the inevitable settling into the domesticity of life together, it happens.

Realising I needed to get us out of this rut, I began dropping hints. A suggestion to try role play via text. Nothing. A new sex toy in the stocking at Christmas. “Thanks.” Casually leaving the douche out on the side in the bathroom while it dried. Neither subtle nor at all desperate.

But each time I tried, the dry spell didn’t seem to get any less dry (and we all know it never works dry). And each time I hinted, I sensed my partner retreating further away.

Stuck at stalemate after an almost sex-less Christmas holiday, I snapped in the car park outside B&Q.

“I don’t know how many times I can drop hints and have them fall on deaf ears! I only suggested we go to B&Q so I could make innuendo about getting wood and drilling with the hope you’d finally get the message. When we get home, we are going to have sex, ok?”

(We had sex and it was great btw, clearly being more dominant works). But afterwards, I still felt something was up. My anxious brain began to wonder: has he fallen out of love with me? Doesn’t he find me attractive anymore? Is he getting satisfied elsewhere?

And then I realised. I hadn’t even asked him directly about this. For weeks I

had been assuming that sex would be on tap because that’s what I’ve (wrongly) learnt to expect from a relationship, and then crumbling every time I felt ‘rejected’. I thought to myself: why haven’t you actually tried to ask how he feels about all this rather than just expecting him to read your mind?

And it suddenly dawned on me, for all the sex I’ve had in my life (a lot), I could probably count on one hand the times I’ve sat and actually talked about it with someone. Sure, I’ve sent dirty, flirty messages during the chase. Sure, I’ve joked about sexcapades with ‘the girls’ over cocktails. But I’d hardly ever talked to a partner face-to-face about their fantasies and my desires. And every time I had, our insecurities about ourselves and the assumption that our sex lives should be less heteronormative, had always led us down a dangerous path of non-communicative non-monogamy — a double negative that is a recipe for disaster in any relationship.

Talking about sex was a lesson I never learnt. So, after a glass of wine, I plucked up the courage, sharing how I felt about the situation. To begin with it was awkward, but soon I began to realise the complexity of my partner’s own sexual history was just as complicated as mine (dear reader, you’d need an entire magazine to even scratch the surface).

It turns out every time I dropped a hint, he felt overwhelming pressure not to let me down, and the pressure of that was a total buzzkill. Over time he’d begun to worry that he wasn’t enough for me and that…wait for it…I was probably getting it elsewhere. Here we were, both worried about the same thing, falling deeper into the paranoia built from unstable past relationships.

And all it took to unlock it was talking. Through that one conversation, we realised just how much unlearning we both had to do. So, now we’re learning to talk about sex a lot more. It’s brought us closer than ever. After all, intimacy isn’t just about being physically close to someone, but emotionally, too.

And as for that dry-spell? Well, let’s just say that’s dried up and has been replaced with… well, something a lot wetter.

You can give Nathaniel a follow on Insta @nathaniejhall 


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