A beginner’s guide to talking dirty in bed without feeling super awkward

Okay, be honest: When you first heard Jason DeRulo sing, “Talk dirty to me,” did you freeze up a little? If so, you’re not alone. Many women find it hard to express their sexual needs and desires to their partners and can feel awkward when it comes to talking dirty in bed. But at the heart of good sex is good communication, and that can include dirty talk.

“Talking about sex can be arousing. It causes sexual tension,” Sandi Kaufman, LCSW, certified sex therapist, tells HelloGiggles. “Talking during sex can also be arousing, but you have to learn what your partner likes and be clear about your own preferences.”

Open communication is key when it comes to partners starting this type of connection, says Kaufman, since it creates an environment that’s safe for both parties. And don’t worry about not saying something correctly or getting anything “wrong,” either.

As Janielle Bryan, a sexuality educator and creator of the sexual health pop-up, The Sex Exchange, tells HelloGiggles, "People often forget that there's no 'right' way to talk dirty with their partner. Talking dirty is relative to you and your partner. There's no need to attempt to replicate what you may have heard in movies, from friends, or read in a books. While inspiration is great, replicating may cause you even more anxiety."

If you’re new to talking dirty, Bryan suggests starting wherever makes you comfortable and gradually building on it. Like anything, talking dirty is something you’ll be able to gain confidence in the more you practice. Need some inspiration to help get you started? We connected with a number of sexperts for their advice on how to talk dirty in bed without feeling super awkward.

Embrace the awkwardness

“First, you need to learn to be okay being awkward,” Dr. Jill McDevitt, CalExotics’ resident sexologist, tells HelloGiggles. “There are great mindful meditation strategies to practice this, but constantly worrying about sounding/being/looking awkward during sex is a surefire way to never have good sex. You’ll never find a foolproof way to ensure a 100% awkwardness-free experience all the time, so your best bet is just accepting awkwardness.”

Plus, let’s be real: Sex has a tendency to be kind of awkward and funny, right? So just ride with it.

Start off small

“Use language that comes naturally to you, as opposed to repeating what you have seen in films or read online,” Jess O’Reilly, PhD., host of the Sex with Dr. Jess Podcast, suggests. “And since dirty talk goes both ways, use a few simple lines to develop greater comfort as you explore your lover’s body.”

For example, in O’Reilly’s dirty talk guide, she suggests asking, “Do you like that?” “Where do you want it?” or “What can I do for you?” Simple commands include “Tell me how you like it” and “Lie back and let me give it to you.”

Make it a game

One way to start talking dirty, says Kaufman, is for couples to explore the language of sex and make it a game.

“I love the game of finding different words for body parts. It can help to break down inhibitions and barriers to language,” she says. “This is helpful especially if there is discomfort with certain words.”

Kaufman suggests asking each other to list all the slang words they can think of for specific body parts, sex acts, and sexual preferences. From there, you say what you prefer and what turns you on or off.

“For example, ‘penis’ might generate words like cock, dick, rod, Mr. Happy, weiner, etc. One guy might find the word ‘cock’ a total turn-on while the word ‘weiner’ deflates his penis,” Kaufman says. “Using a 0-10 scale is helpful for beginners that are exploring language and commands, with 0 meaning it’s a turnoff to 10 meaning total turn-on. One person might love the word ‘fuck’ while another may find it crass and be triggered to shut down.”

Which is why O’Reilly also suggests setting ground rules. “If you are going to continue to expand your dirty talk repertoire, chat with your partner ahead of time about topics, fantasies, or words that are off limits,” she says. “Each person has her own unique set of limitations and sensitivities. Maybe your partner likes to use the word ‘pussy,’ but it makes you angry—not a good mood to be in the sack! Since these sensitivities can change over time, it’s a good idea to revisit your ground rules periodically.”

Read erotica together

Need some sex-spo? McDevitt recommends practicing dirty talk by reading erotica together:

“There are lots of great books and online communities with erotic literature. Reading them together allows you to get comfortable with the language and each other’s boundaries while keeping a buffer between the material and your imagination.”

Be open to experimentation

There’s not one single way to talk dirty, and how you do it might change each time you have sex. For example, you might be feeling more teasing during one sex session, and a little more romantic and intimate the next. Which is why O’Reilly provides some suggestions on what to say in order to match the mood.

Romantic: “You’re the only one for me.” “I’ll only ever want you.”
Alluring: “I know you want what’s under this shirt.” “Tell me what you’d do to me.”
Responsive: “Tell me how you like it.” “What can I do for you?” “That feels good.”
Instructive: “Put your hand right here.” “Nibble on me a little.” “Don’t stop.”

Laugh a little

Sex can be funny! Don’t be afraid to laugh a little and loosen up.

“As you integrate dirty talk into your sexual repertoire, remember that it is okay to giggle a little,” O’Reilly says. “Obviously you don’t want to laugh at your lover, but having a healthy sense of humor will help to ease the tension when you are experimenting with new language, tone, and subject matter. In fact, using a bit of humor and playfulness may be the ideal approach if talking dirty makes you blush or if you’re worried about how your lover will respond.”

Ultimately, when it comes to talking dirty, personal preference is key. Take it slow and check in with your partner before, during, and after to see what’s working and what’s not. When in doubt, laugh it off. And if dirty talk isn’t your thing? No sweat. It doesn’t have to be for everyone, and that’s okay, too.

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