As part of my studies in Sexology, I get to watch films. Lots and lots and lots of films. Many of them could be classified as porn, others are what we call “pattern films”, and even some are from the most prolific source of all: Hollywood. I’ve learned a few things from this viewing, and not all of it is my acquired ability to see body parts as a mechanic might view spark plugs and crankshafts, yikes!

In movies, we are shown only the romantic and exciting bits: the long, hungry gazes, the passionate kissing, rolling in sheets and climatic thrusting. Everything goes as if it were scripted (it is) and, unless it’s a raunchy comedy, there’s no awkward moments of “ow, you’re leaning on my hair” or clumsy fumbling with zippers or bras. Sex happens in a wild flash of heat and desire, with no words needed and no question of satisfaction.

Porn is the opposite. Sometimes, the camera is so close, you can barely tell what parts belong to whom. Often, dialogue is condensed to a few lines and the plot is minimal.

Pattern films, films which show real couples having real sex, tell a different story. Communication is apparent throughout—you can hear the dialogue partners share as they agree which condom to use or whether it’s time to try a new position. You see them fumble, giggle, ask, listen, readjust… all the things that happen when people have sex. You also can see the care and tenderness between them and their interest in making sex fun for both. Most of all, you can see “amazing sex” doesn’t “just happen.” It’s an event they create together from start to finish.

A quick review of what communication during sex might involve:

* Hey, are you all dressed up for me? (flirting)
* I’m going to take a shower, want to join me?
* Look what I found…. (holding up a new toy/lube/zucchini)

* Do you want to …. ?
* Know what I really like? (tell or show)
* Does this feel good?
* Would you like more?
* I love it when you touch me like that!
* Ouch! Let’s try this instead…

Non-verbal feedback:
* Eye contact
* Sighs
* Deep breathing
* Giggling
* Variety of touch—range from soft and inviting strokes to passionate hold of partner as you pull them closer to you

* Wow, you’re amazing
* That was incredible
* I loved that thing you did… (name the thing)

Ultimately, the thing I’ve learned from sex pattern films is that communication makes sex more delicious and it doesn’t need to be awkward. Rather, it deepens the intimacy and allows exploration and variety. Asking, listening, responding may not be demonstrated in Hollywood or porn, but are all components of healthy and satisfying sex.