As a sex worker, I’m often asked about dirty talk as well as about communication in the bedroom. Being able to communicate in the bedroom can be intimidating, and that’s before your partner starts asking for dirty talk (don’t hyperventilate!). Many people don’t even know what bedroom talk is supposed to look or sound like, and when a partner asks us to try being more vocal, we often don’t know what to say.
To address some of these paralyzing fears and help all of you feel a little more comfortable finding your voice, I’ve come up with some helpful tips to help start you on more audible adventures in the bedroom.
Start outside the bedroom
Your first goal should be to talk about bedroom activities outside the bedroom. If you can’t talk about what you like when you’re not naked, being vulnerable isn’t going to make it any easier. If it helps, try writing down what your perfect sexual encounter looks like. You may realize you don’t know, and that can be an important thing to be aware of before you start trying to give another person instructions.
Ask yourself important questions
Before telling your partner what you want, it’s a good idea to start by asking yourself a few questions. How do I like to be kissed? How do I like to be touched? What turns me on? How do I want a partner to behave in the bedroom to make me more receptive to letting go and enjoying myself? Are there any scenarios or toys I would really enjoy bringing into the bedroom that I don’t know how to bring up or ask for in conversation? What is my partner doing already that I really like? What could they be doing better?
Once you’re done asking all these questions, loosen yourself up with a nice glass of wine or an invigorating run followed by a bubble bath (if you’re not the drinking type), and ask your partner if they’re in a good mental place to have a conversation about sex. With men, I’ve found that the answer usually is yes, but if someone’s had a particularly stressful day, it can be important to set the stage for controlled vulnerability so you don’t feel dismissed or not listened to.
Fill your partner in
Tell your partner you’re working on being a better communicator in the bedroom, and you thought a good start would be talking outside the bedroom about what you like. Invite them to share the same kind of information with you. Being able to communicate in a safe environment is a perfect first step to letting your partner know exactly what you want and when you want it.
Next, tell your partner you’re going to try to get more comfortable with bedroom communication. Having your partner in on your goals will help keep you from appearing awkward and help them encourage you. Start by having a conversation while having sex with the lights on. You don’t need to talk about sex or anything related, just a common interest you have. Do this until you feel comfortable talking. It may take several sessions.
Discuss likes & dislikes
The next step is talking about what you like and don’t like. Tell your partner to explore your body and then focus your energy on telling them what feels good or doesn’t. If you’re mortified or awkward, you can create a system like hand squeezing when they’re doing something right. This can be a great way to put training wheels on your sexual communication, but don’t rely on it for too long. The goal is to give simple instructions and feedback: “Right there. Just like that. Keep going. A little less rough. I like your hands on my skin.”
Roll with it
After all this, if you feel completely uncomfortable giving more aggressive instructions, keep communication at this level. Eventually, you’ll find yourself amenable to giving a little more aggressive feedback.
Remember: You don’t need to talk like a porn star to enjoy yourself. If you feel pressured to talk dirty, ask yourself if it’s going to ruin your sexual experience. If it is, you should tell your partner so. You should only give the feedback you are comfortable giving, and then give yourself permission to experiment to test your comfort zone. That’s all your partner can really ask for.
Being more vocal in the bedroom takes a little bit of work, but after you overcome your fear it’ll be much easier to ask for what you want and help your partner be that much better at pleasing you. The time investment in sexual communication always pays dividends.
Alice Little is a courtesan at the Moonlite Bunny Ranch in Nevada.
A version of this story was published June 2018.
Erotic podcasts for some sexy listening: