We know communication is the bedrock of any success romantic relationship, and that includes how we communicate our needs and desires in the bedroom. So why does talking dirty seem so…awkward? As simple as it might look in movies and porn, in real life dirty talk doesn’t always flow off the tongue quite as easily as it does during those steamy onscreen couplings. Many of us stammer, stutter, completely freeze up, or at too embarrassed to even try.
Rachel Sommer, Ph.D., clinical sexologist, and co-founder of My Sex Toy Guide, says it’s common for people to feel this way when it comes to dirty talk. “Some people like it, and others hate it,” she says. “For most people, it comes from their upbringing where they were told what bad words were and why they shouldn’t be tolerated. People are skeptical about change.”
And that’s too bad, because dirty talk can enhance your sexual relationship.“The beauty of dirty talk is that it opens the curtain for you to learn more about your partner’s likes and dislikes,” Sommer says. “Think about it this way: You must have an honest conversation to discuss the boundaries and set rules to govern your newfound kink. Both partners detail what they are and aren’t comfortable with. In doing so, you can learn more about each other’s fantasies, ultimately incorporating them during sex for an even more enjoyable experience.”
Sommer says it’s helpful to think of dirty talk as a form of foreplay. “Even if you’ll eventually touch each other physically, a 20-minute dirty talking session can get your engines warm well before you’re up for the action.”
Curious on how to talk dirty with confidence instead of sounding totally awkward? Read on for some of Sommer’s best tips.
For those who are a little shy, playing character roles that align with your greatest fantasies might make talking dirty a little less uncomfortable.
“Roleplaying is a great way to introduce dirty talking in your sex life without taking full responsibility for your words and actions,” says Sommer. “In addition, roleplaying pushes you out of your comfort zone, allowing you to explore and experiment with things you might not normally have.” So get creative with your partner and enact a tantalizing scene together to take the pressure off.
Share erotic novels or movies with your partner
You might have rolled your eyes at the Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon, but there’s something there that can teach you about seduction and naughty words. “Erotic novels are helpful because of the vast sexual vocabulary you can learn,” says Sommer, who recommends Beyond My Control: Forbidden Fantasies in an Uncensored Age and Forbidden Flowers: More Women’s Sexual Fantasies.
Reading sexy books together with your partner also helps you each learn more about the other’s turn-ons, and can, Sommer notes, provide “new ways to make the experience exciting and funny.” Because, remember—sex is supposed to playful too.
Practice talking dirty by yourself
If you’re not comfortable talking dirty in front of your partner quite yet, you might consider practicing speaking dirty words out loud to yourself first. Consider what turns you on and what you want to experience in bed. Sommer recommends playing around with different phrases, even if they make you a little uncomfortable at first.
Breaking taboos is ok too, she adds. “Remember, [if you’re a woman], it’s okay to be turned on by words like ‘slut’ and ‘whore’, which men have used to degrade women. It’s about taking back the words, owning them, and using them in our own way that feels good to us.”
Respect each other’s boundaries
The best tip for successful dirty talk, according to Sommer, is nowing and respecting your partner’s boundaries. “Understanding each other’s turn-ons and turn-offs ensures the sessions are curated for you, thus increasing the probability of success,” she says. “It’s not about the quantity but rather the quality. The hero in bed isn’t the one [who] dumps a series of raunchy phrases, but the most authentic ones.”
But what if your partner’s dirty talk isn’t exactly turning your crank?
“I recommend taking it up with them. You can agree on making it sweeter or even better; you take the lead and guide them into what you want to be done to you.”
And remember: Practice makes perfect. Zero in on what you like to say and hear in bed and communicate it to your partner in whichever way feels good and sexy to you. A little fumbling is OK as you figure things out.
“Give it a shot and expect a little discomfort,” says Sommer. “After all, it’s a new experience.”