Show or Tell? Does Verbal and/or Nonverbal Sexual Communication Matter for Sexual Satisfaction?

J Sex Marital Ther. 2019;45(3):206-217. doi: 10.1080/0092623X.2018.1501446. Epub 2019 Apr 11.


Communication is linked to sexual satisfaction. This includes verbal and nonverbal communication. Much of the extant research focuses on verbal communication within a relationship as a predictor of sexual satisfaction, yet some people feel more comfortable communicating nonverbally, perhaps especially during sex. Regardless of the communication style (verbal or nonverbal), satisfaction with one's communication style with a partner also seems to be linked to sexual satisfaction. However, the relationship between (a) communication style (verbal and nonverbal) and (b) satisfaction with communication style regarding communication during sex with sexual satisfaction is not well established. Given this gap in the research, we explored (a) how one's own and one's partner's use of verbal and nonverbal communication during sex is associated with sexual satisfaction, and (b) how satisfaction with sexual communication is associated with sexual satisfaction among a convenience sample (N = 398; ages 18-55+). Sexual communication satisfaction mediated the association between self and partner communication during sex and sexual satisfaction. This study has implications for education and counseling-specifically we argue that couples may benefit more from finding consistency and satisfaction with their communication style than from focusing on trying to ascribe to a particular style.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Heterosexuality / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Orgasm*
  • Personal Satisfaction*
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology
  • Sexual Partners / psychology*
  • Young Adult