7 Tips to Help a Shy Partner Open Up Sexually

Published: FEBRUARY 25, 2020 | Updated: SEPTEMBER 28, 2021
Don’t despair, all ye freaks in the sheets. There are things you can do to empower your partner’s sexuality.

In a world that demonizes pleasure and writes it off as superfluous, it’s understandable to be shy about sex. However, having a bashful partner can be tough if you’re the sexually adventurous type.


“Hey, light of my life, check out this filthy picture. Wanna try that sexy thing?”

“Um… I mean… maybe… I mean… I dunno.” (*giggly shrugging*)

“Okay... (What does that mean though?!!??!?)”


But don’t despair, all ye freaks in the sheets. There are things you can do to empower your partner’s sexuality. Peep ‘em!

1. Listen with an open mind when your partner talks about sex.

At some point while growing up, we’re all told that some aspect of our sexuality is cause for shame. Your partner has undoubtedly experienced this. They may secretly believe they’re unattractive, or their kinks are weird, or that liking sex makes them an immoral pervert.

Judgments like these can stay with a person for a long, long time. In some cases, they’re all but impossible to shake.


Show your partner that opening up sexually won’t be used against them by you. You can do this by hearing them out with a patient, curious, sex-positive mindset.

Read: Practical Ways to Reduce Your Sexual Shame

2. Encourage your partner’s masturbation habits.

I’ve known people who viciously criticized their partners for masturbating. “Why jack off when they could have me instead? Wouldn’t they rather fuck a real person?


Unfortunately, this attitude screams insecurity and is likely to backfire. Getting pissed at someone for enjoying their own body isn’t likely to get them hot and bothered.

Rather than taking things like this personally, drop any entitlement you may be carrying.

Your partner’s body, orgasms, and fantasies aren’t your property. (Even if you’ve got a fun and kinky ‘ownership’ agreement going on, it’s void the moment they choose to opt out.)


Your partner’s relationship with their body and mind lies at the core of their sexuality. The more in touch they are with what gets them off solo, the easier it’ll be for them to share it with you.

Read: Masturbation Each Day Keeps the Doctor Away

3. Accept (or participate in?) your partner’s porn use.

This piggybacks off the last point. Porn addiction is a hot topic and its potential negative effects are well documented. For most people, though, porn doesn’t become a substitute for intimacy. Rather, it’s just a way to relax, explore what gets us off, and appreciate the cornucopia of interesting things humans do.


Rather than getting on your partner’s case for watching porn, you can use it as a point of connection. What turns them on and why? What kinks do you share? Are they interested in things you might like to try?

If you’re game and think they’d be up for it, you might suggest watching porn together. Grab some popcorn and use it as a means of sexy foreplay.

4. When you ask about your partner’s desires, try yes-or-no questions.

“What do you fantasize about?”

That is a scary fucking question for a lot of people. Common, harmless fetishes are attributed to mental illness or dubious morals in our society all the time. What if your partner has a fetish you don’t understand? What if you end up leaving them for their answer?

If that ends up being the case, I certainly wouldn’t fault you for it. What you do or don’t stick around for in a relationship is no one else’s business. However, if your goal is to help your partner open up about sex, you’ll need to understand where they’re coming from one way or another.

Yes-or-no questions are far easier to answer and create smoother opportunities for discussion. Your partner will likely be relieved that you’ve at least heard of whatever it is you’re bringing up, if it happens to be their thing.

“I’m watching a porn clip about furries. Have you ever watched anything like that?”

“Have you ever fantasized about having a threesome?”

“I have a friend who’s really into pet play. Do you think you’d have fun trying that kind of thing?”

By framing your curiosity in this way, you’ll give your partner more to work with than a blank slate.

Read: Sex Communication 101

5. Share your interests with your partner in a no-pressure way.

Telling your partner about your own sexual desires can be great for encouraging discussion. I’m not suggesting that you DM them the most hardcore videos on your hard drive. Instead, wade into the pool and see what sticks. If you’re into bondage, for example, artistic shibari pics are an excellent gateway drug.

“I like this picture. What do you think?”

And when something doesn’t stick, accept your partner’s feelings. It’s impossible for one person to tick all our boxes and pushing the matter will make you sound like a jerk.

“I really want to try anal someday.”

“Yeah, I know. You bring it up all the time.”

Not a good look.

Read: How to Have a Conversation About Kink With Your Partner

6. Speak in ways that are respectful and empower your partner’s confidence.

It’s impossible to feel sexy when we feel unattractive or unlovable. It’s especially impossible when our partners reinforce those feelings.

Sure, you may wish your partner was thinner or taller or younger or had better skin. You’re entitled to your preferences, but your partner is under no obligation to live up to them and probably couldn’t if they tried.

Using language that tears your partner down is a surefire way to kill their libido. If you want them to open up sexually, let them know what you find attractive about them. If there’s something you don’t find attractive that’s impeding your ability to enjoy sex with them, find a way to be honest while still being respectful.

That ‘Sticks and Stones’ rhyme from grade school doesn’t hold water. Hurtful words stay with us, even when we like ourselves.

Read: Finding Body Confidence in a Body-Shaming World

7. Give your partner space from sex when they need it.

It can be tempting to bring up or initiate sex all the time if you’ve got a high libido. If your partner’s sex drive doesn’t match yours, however, this can be overwhelming. It may also make them feel like an object.

If you’re getting the vibe that sex is unwanted at any particular point, don’t panic. Some people aren’t wired to fuck all the time and that’s okay. Give your partner a chance to come around. If they don’t, then you can start to explore the reason for it and any solutions at your disposal.

Molly Lazarus

Molly Lazarus is a kink and sexuality writer based in the Bay Area. She dreams of a world where consent-loving hedonists can explore the depths of their depravity without fear of persecution or sexual abuse.

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