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How I fumbled through dirty talk without feeling totally awkward

Lauren Friel is a freelance writer living in Boston. She's a retired sommelier, spontaneous traveler and passionate lover of kitchen gadgets.

I thought I was sexually liberated... until my new guy asked me to talk dirty to him

The new guy in my life was perfect, and I was thrilled. He was funny, creative, thoughtful and… really good in bed. It was awesome to be having the kind of energetic sex I think I would have enjoyed a decade earlier had I not been 20 and sexually clueless. I felt mature, liberated and confident between the sheets. For about a week.

“Tell me what you want me to do to you, baby,” he whispered.

I’m sorry. What, now? I panicked. What should I say? What does he want me to say? What do I want to say? How would I even say it?

I’m still not sure if I said anything. The best I can imagine coming up with is, “Whatever you want,” which could be sexy but more likely sounded like a sullen teenager’s response to the family meeting about which National Park to RV to this year.

More: 6 ways to master dirty talk so it's not awkward

This was a double bummer to me as a woman who always considered herself sexually liberated. Not only did I have a VIP card at Good Vibrations, I spent years as a sexual health counselor. I had no problem discussing sex outside the bedroom. Penis! Vagina! Ejaculate! No problem! I read Dan Savage like my forebears read the Bible. I took a sort of smug pride in my GGG, try-anything-once attitude.

So why, then, was I furiously googling, “How to talk dirty”? What was stopping me from engaging in something that should have been fun? Was I really not as cool with all things kink as I thought?

Instead of letting my insecurities ruin my orgasms, I decided to be pragmatic. I’d make some lists. (I love lists.) First, what was I already comfortable saying?

  • “His Name Here!”
  • Various “Mmmm” and “Ohhhh” noises at “naughty” decibels. (When in doubt, get loud!)
  • “You feel so good!”
  • “Yes!”

A meager list of pretty vanilla exclamations, but it was a start. Next, I’d focus on what I wanted. Risqué rhetoric didn’t matter if I had nothing to describe.

Blank page. Nothing.

I realized that when it came down to it, I’d spent my formative years reading, watching and studying how to be GGG, but I hadn’t really explored what did it for me. I had fantasies, and I knew orgasms were good, but I couldn’t for the life of me come up with something instructive to whisper, sexy or not. I not only had stage fright — I had no lines.

More: 15 dirty talk fails that will make you laugh, cry and scratch your head

Figuring out how to talk dirty, I decided, was my opportunity to change all that. I started with (surprise!) more lists, this time of things I knew turned me on:

  • Oral sex (duh)
  • Having my neck and collarbone kissed
  • Really slow penetration
  • Being teased in various ways
  • Light BDSM (spanking, wrist restraints, etc.)

It was a pretty easy rundown of my top five turn-ons. Awesome. But how did I want to talk about them? How dirty did I want my dirty talk to be?

My partner’s own sexual monologues really did it for me, so I started by plagiarizing him at first. Fake it ‘til you make it, right?

  • Oral sex was easy: “I want you to lick me until I come (practical)/for hours (kind of fantasy)”
  • The neck kisses were, too: “I want to feel your lips on my neck.” Simple but hot!
  • Slow sex seems straightforward, but I realized there’s a noticeable difference in steam-factor between just “Go slow,” and “I want it slow.”
  • Being teased had lots of potential. I could tell him exactly what I wanted him to do (saying “I want to feel you _____” made it easier), or I could just allude to general teasing (“I want you to tease me until I can’t take it anymore”). Both were super hot.
  • Spanking almost felt like a cop-out. Just telling him I wanted him to spank me really did the trick.

Just like that, I had an arsenal of sexy speak to draw on when the mood struck, and the words came naturally with a little solo practice. After a few rolls in the hay, not only could I direct the dirty talk — a skill that felt empowering and bold — if I ever got tongue-tied I could just throw in a line I’d practiced without slowing things down or becoming self-conscious. I’m happy to report, too, that I’m now comfortable (and super enthusiastic!) about freestyling my desires, and I feel more connected to my own sexuality as a result. Give it a go!

More: The reason we love dirty talk — finally explained

Pro tip: If you’re just starting out, try initiating the conversation outside of the bedroom. Whisper in your partner’s ear at dinner or leave them a provocative voicemail. It gets things going in a low-pressure environment and sets expectations for the main event.

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