Women: Sometimes we’re hot and ready like a Little Caesar’s pizza, and other times we’re more like that cold slice of Domino’s you left out on the kitchen counter after a night of drunken debauchery. You’ll get us warmed up again for your hungover breakfast at noon, but it’ll take some time and effort.
But it doesn’t always seem like our partners want to put in that time and effort, and sometimes they’re too clueless to realize when we need them to slow down and spend more time making us feel good before they speed through to whatever will make them feel good.
Unfortunately, it can be hard for women to muster up the courage to ask for what we really need in bed, even if it’s simply telling our partners that we need “more” of whatever they’re doing — especially when we’re with someone new. We don’t want to hurt our partners’ feelings, but we also don’t want to feel that we’re a nuisance for not being wet and ready at a second’s notice.
Really, though, what’s the point of sleeping with someone if you’re not getting what you want out of it? The longer you keep quiet, the harder it’s going to be for you to speak up — and you deserve good sex.
We spoke to the experts to help you muster up the courage (and the tools) to ask for what you want in the bedroom — because if you don’t speak up for yourself, nobody will.
1. Use your hands, not your words
Good news: If you’re not great with words, you don’t necessarily have to use them to signal to your partner what you want more (or less) of in bed.
If your partner is trying to play with your clitoris during sex but is actually rubbing the inside of your thigh raw, gently move their hand to the right spot. Chances are they’ll thank you (and so will your body), and they’ll keep going like nothing happened, which means no fear of killing the mood.
Alternately, if your partner is doing something that doesn’t feel good for you, use your hand to push them away. Unless your partner is totally clueless, that should be all they need to halt whatever activity they’re doing that isn’t doing it for you.
And if you want something different than what your partner is doing? Grab their hands, move them to the right spot, and show them. Your partner is almost 100% guaranteed to love this, so there’s no reason to be shy. Remember, your partner wants to make you feel good, so any guidance you can give them will be much appreciated — and is mutually beneficial.
“Even though I do love sex toys, I think it’s important to just masturbate with your own fingers and nothing else,” said Joanna Angel, author, director, adult film star, and founder of Burning Angel Productions. “Learn how to get yourself off with the tools you were born with, and you’ll learn about your body and be able to kinda fill in with your own hands if whatever partner you have isn’t hitting the right spot.”
2. Find your “core erotic feeling”
Sometimes what we really crave in bed isn’t something action-based, which makes it even more difficult to explain to a partner.
If you find yourself wanting something more in bed, but have trouble describing what it is (whether aloud or in your head), you might be craving a certain feeling rather than a specific action. Or, as Dr. Jessica O’Reilly, host of the @SexWithDrJess Podcast has dubbed it, your core erotic feeling.
She has explained more about core erotic feelings (CEF) on her podcast, but essentially, she said you should simply ask yourself the question: How do I need to feel in order to enjoy sex?
Your desired CEF can range from feeling loved or appreciated to feeling humiliated or subjugated. But regardless of what it is, chances are your CEF encompasses more than just certain action items.
For example, if your CEF is feeling desired, you probably want your partner to take the lead, be all over you as if they can’t get enough, and whisper sweet nothings about how sexy you look. You might be turned off if your partner closes their eyes rather than watching you, or if they don’t make any commentary on the hot lingerie you decided to wear.
That being said, you (unfortunately) can’t just say, “I want to feel desired during sex,” and go on your merry way. You still need to explain what kinds of things make you feel desired, at least to start. Again, this is something you’ll probably have to take some time to reflect on — whether that means pondering to yourself or finding a partner to “investigate” with.
3. Do it whenever you feel most comfortable (even if that means via text)
Considering our generation can’t even DTR half the time — that’s “define the relationship,” if you weren’t sure — having a serious conversation about sex with a new partner probably sounds daunting. But nobody said it had to be a serious conversation. Dr. Jess recommended bringing it up in whatever way makes you the most comfortable.
“Some people are more relaxed during and after sex and may be more open to giving and receiving feedback,” said Dr. Jess. “Others prefer to use text and make sexy requests using emojis and the written word. Some might suggest that text is impersonal, but it’s the most popular way many of us communicate.”
Bringing it up while sexting is definitely a fool-proof way to casually suggest some things that you’d like your partner to do more or less in bed. If you are a little shy about making personal “I” statements, you can always pin the fantasy on a movie you saw or a story you read, or make it sound like it’s about you rather than about them.
Alternately, work your requests into your dirty talk. If you’re comfortable enough saying “harder” or “faster” to your partner, take it a step further and request whatever else you need. You can still say it in your go-to bedroom voice, but instead say “slower,” “softer,” or even, “can I get on top?”
You can also try to speak louder with your actions than your words.
“In my completely un-professional opinion, the best way to solve a sexual issue is to have more sex, and guide each other in the heat of the moment and learn to communicate naked,” said Angel.
4. Turn complaints into compliments
“Rather than making complaints or criticisms, make requests,” said Dr. Jess.
She suggests the following three steps:
1. Offer positive feedback (“I really like the way we…”)
2. Make an offer by asking them what they’d like (“Is there anything you want to try?”)
3. Make your request (“I’d like more of…”)
If you’re taking the in-the-moment approach, Angel suggested, “Instead of being negative like, ‘Don’t do that,’ help guide them to the right spot and moan loudly like, ‘Yes! Yes! Keep doing that!’”
5. Be armed with examples
Saying you want something to change but not being able to explain what you want instead can be confusing and frustrating to a partner, according to Dr. Nikki Goldstein, sexologist, relationship expert, and author of Single But Dating. So, she suggested, “If you are going to ask for something to be changed, a more effective way is asking for something more direct. [For example,] ‘I would really love to try these two positions I was reading about.'”
If you’re sick of your partner going around the traditional “bases” in the same order, in the same way, every time, it’s completely understandable. Unfortunately, just telling your partner to “change it up” probably isn’t going to help much. Take it upon yourself to figure out what you’d like instead (or explain your core erotic feeling!) and make sure to vocalize that, rather than complaining about what’s not working for you.
6. When in doubt, Mad Libs it
New to this and need some more guidance? Both Dr. Jess and Angel wrote a fill-in-the-blank sentence for you to use when trying to voice your sexual needs to a partner. Choose your favorite, plug in whatever you need, and go get yours.
Dr. Jess: “I really love when you _______. And I’d love to try more of ____________.”
Joanna Angel: “It turns me on when you _________, so do that more.”
Feel free to use these during pillow talk, in a text message, via carrier pigeon — whatever you gotta do.
7. Don’t compromise when it comes to your satisfaction
The only thing worse than trying to figure out how to tell your new bae that their cunnilingus skills need some work? Telling your bae that their cunnilingus skills need some work, and seeing absolutely no change or effort on their part.
As Dr. Jess explained, “When alone, women only take an average of one minute longer than men to reach orgasm — it’s partnered sex that often delays the process (and that’s okay).”
If your partner isn’t down to help bridge the orgasm gap, though, that’s a problem. Unless sex isn’t important to you (and if you’re reading this, we’re assuming that’s not the case), it might be time to find a new partner — or DIY it, if you really like this person despite their inabilities in bed. Your pleasure shouldn’t be dismissed because your partner is impatient.
If you want to speak up and and you stumble, or get shy and say “never mind” before awkwardly changing the subject, don’t worry, this takes practice. Having the tools to ask for what you want in bed doesn’t mean that you’re steps away from having effortless orgasms for the rest of your life. Even the experts sometimes have trouble applying their theories to their personal lives.
“Just because I have the theory, doesn’t mean I can always put it into practice with ease,” said Dr. Jess. “Oftentimes, I have to remind myself that there is pleasure and power in discomfort in order to push my comfort zone — in bed and in business.”