Forgiveness And Communication

Holly’s recent post on talking to your partner about sex got me thinking. It is, as she says, incredibly important to make concrete suggestions about what you’d like to try in bed, give specific feedback, and be encouraging and understanding when it takes a while for your comments to sink in and have an impact on your partner’s behavior. Another significant factor in communicating with your partner about things you’d like to try, however, is forgiveness.

Dr. Debby has posted about forgiveness as a sex superpower, but forgiveness has an additional role to play specifically in the realm of communication. Let’s say you and your partner want to try something new… or rather, you want to try something new and your partner agrees to give it a shot. Things don’t turn out to feel as good or sexy as anticipated. Whose fault is it? Framing these kinds of scenarios in terms of communication and forgiveness makes it less about blame or fault. While it can be easy to point an accusatory finger (“This was your fantasy/You said this would feel good/Why didn’t you tell me this would chafe?”), it’s better in the long run to take responsibility for your own feelings and adopt an easy-going attitude.

Communication mistakes can happen in any realm of a relationship, and sex is no exception. The important thing is to be open to forgiving your partner, and yourself, if things don’t always go as planned. On the flip side, be willing to apologize if you make a mistake. If you want to create an emotionally intimate situation where everyone feels safe and able to express their needs and desires, you need to be able to be forgiving when events take an unexpected turn. The phrase “you win some, you lose some” would be appropriate to keep in mind here when trying new things (which could be as minor as try licking/kissing a neglected body part). Some experiments will turn out marvelously, while others might leave you irked, sticky where you didn’t want to be, or unfulfilled.

I’m not saying you have to be trying all new things all the time with your partner(s) in order to be sexually satisfied, rather that if you anticipate wanting to explore occasionally, you should be ready to extend forgiveness and consideration if things don’t go as planned. Think of it like trying a new kind of food: turns out you might adore that cuisine, or it might give you gas, but it’s only one meal, and you don’t have to eat it again if you really didn’t like it. Holding a grudge against the person who suggested the restaurant is a little bit petty, and who knows, maybe their next suggestion will totally hit the spot!

Follow us on Twitter @mysexprofessor. Follow Jeana, the author of this post, @foxyfolklorist.

About Jeana


Jeana Jorgensen, PhD recently completed her doctoral degree in folklore and gender studies at Indiana University. She studies fairy tales and other narratives, dance, body art, feminist theory, digital humanities, and gender identity.

  • Holly Moyseenko-Kossover

    I have so much more to say abuot this later (in a hotel and not had enough time to properly formulate my thoughts), but I really appreciate you mentioning that sometimes it’s not even about forgiving your partner, but YOURSELF. As an educator, I deal with people blaming themselves b/c something didn’t work. As an individual, I know I recently blame myself for my (sprained ankle) still hurting – why is this thign still hurting? I should be better by now! That sort of logic. I think forgiveness is one of the most important thinsg we can do for ourselvse and others.

  • Jeana Jorgensen

    I’m glad this post resonated with you! And I agree, self-blame is really pervasive and hard to get around.