Think and Grow Rich: Sexual Transmutation Demystified

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Eight Dates" by John Gottman, Julie Schwartz Gottman, et al.. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Is your sex life in need of improvement? How do you talk about sex with your partner?

Sex is an important factor in many relationships. With Eight Dates‘ essential tips for talking about sex, you and your partner can have a healthy conversation about your sex life to make sure you’re both getting what you want.

Find out how to talk about sex with your partner on date night.

Talking About Sex on a Date

The authors argue that knowing how to talk about sex with your partner is important to the long-term health of your relationship. However, they emphasize that there isn’t one definition of a healthy sex life. It will look different for every couple, and it will look different at different points in your life. For example, you might have more sex when you first start dating or less sex if one partner is sick. In the end, a healthy sex life is whatever feels good for both you and your significant other. The goal of this date is to learn more about what turns your partner on and to discuss how to keep your relationship passionate.

(Shortform note: Sex isn’t necessarily a part of every long-term healthy relationship. A 2022 study found that many people who self-identify as asexual are happily coupled in thriving relationships. However, there is limited research on the subject and researchers emphasized the need for further exploration of diverse relationship models.)

The authors explain that a healthy sex life depends on honest conversation. Sex and intimacy are particularly sensitive topics for most people, which is why a lot of couples don’t talk regularly about their sex life or sexual desires. However, research suggests that couples that talk regularly about sex have better sex more often. 

(Shortform note: Communication about sex is especially important for women. A study of heterosexual couples found that more communication about sex led to a greater frequency of orgasms for female partners and increased sexual satisfaction for both partners.)

The authors offer a few tips for talking about sex with your partner. First, make sure you’re not doing it right before, during, or after sex. Since it’s a delicate topic, bringing it up in the moment is a recipe for disaster. Second, don’t underestimate the power of humor. Sex doesn’t have to be serious, so don’t be afraid to bring some lightness to the conversation. 

(Shortform note: It can be helpful to think about your sexual desires before jumping into a conversation with your partner. But everyone has a different relationship to their own sexuality, and you might not know what you like or want when it comes to sex. To start reflecting on your sexual preferences, think about what you fantasize about when you masturbate or if there’s anything you’re curious about that isn’t a part of your current sexual routine. You can also explore online quizzes that analyze anything from your sexual personality to your undiscovered kinks.)

Use the following questions to help guide your conversation:

  • What do you like?
  • When and how do you like to initiate sex?
  • What can I do to improve our sex life?

(Shortform note: If you have a history of sexual trauma, this date can be an opportunity to share this with your partner if you haven’t already. However, therapists and psychologists emphasize there’s no timeline or obligation for when and how you discuss sexual trauma with people in your life. They recommend seeking advice from mental health professionals before discussing your history of sexual trauma with your significant other.)

How to Talk About Sex With Your Partner + Expectations

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of John Gottman, Julie Schwartz Gottman, et al.'s "Eight Dates" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full Eight Dates summary:

  • The secret to a strong, long-lasting relationship
  • Why you and your partner need to make time for weekly dates
  • The eight powerful dates and conversations to have at the start of a relationship

Katie Doll

Somehow, Katie was able to pull off her childhood dream of creating a career around books after graduating with a degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. Her preferred genre of books has changed drastically over the years, from fantasy/dystopian young-adult to moving novels and non-fiction books on the human experience. Katie especially enjoys reading and writing about all things television, good and bad.

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