In the second season of the Netflix comedy-drama Sex Education, Colin, the health teacher—the guy literally responsible for sex education—is terrified to talk dirty to his partner, Emily. She wants him to call her a b*tch, but all polite Colin can muster is “lovely female dog.” Shockingly, it kills the mood.
The show is fiction, but the struggle is real. Countless men say they “just don’t do dirty talk,” and it's easy to see where they’re coming from: In the era of #MeToo, they want to be extra careful about respect and consent. Calling a woman a b*tch in the throes of lovemaking can seem, well, contrary to those goals.
But that’s not the case, and if you think that way, you’re missing out. Dirty talk lets you safely explore your deepest, darkest desires—and according to research, there’s a good chance your partner is craving it. In a survey of more than 4,000 Americans, Justin Lehmiller, Ph.D., a research fellow at Indiana University’s Kinsey Institute, found that 93 percent of women had fantasized about their partner talking dirty to them, and 56 percent fantasized about it often. So let’s get it on, guys. We're going to help you find your way with words.
How do you know if your partner is into dirty talk?
Whenever you’re unsure of what your partner is into sexually, just ask them. “Rather than just attempt to throw in dirty talk on the fly, lead with consent,” says sex and relationship educator, Jen Hinds, M.Ed. “Have a conversation before sex about likes, dislikes, turn ons, turn offs, and even triggering names or phrases.” (We recommend having this conversation when you're not in the middle of a hookup, so no one feels pressured to answer one way or another.)
So, the next time you're eating breakfast together, you could ask, “Hey, out of curiosity, how do you feel about dirty talk?" And if they're into it, you could ask, "What would you like to hear me say? And are there any words you're not cool with?"
Some words or phrases might be out of bounds for you or your partner, and it’s both of your jobs to know what they are. They might say, “When partners call me a b*tch, it’s not really a turn-on for me. I would love it if you called me a sl*t instead.” Dirty words for body parts (p*ssy, c*ck, d*ck, t*ts, etc.) are also worth discussing; there’s nothing inherently wrong with any of them, but some people have strong reactions to one over another.
“Some people may be into just light dirty talk, and others might like to get more raunchy with it, [but] be sure to know your partner’s boundaries before saying something in bed that could potentially turn the mood sour,” Hinds says.
Ease into dirty talk with sexting.
This way, you can gauge your partner’s reactions virtually, instead of face-to-face. (It’s so much easier to have someone say something isn’t their thing over text than midway through sex.) Start by describing a scene. Remember that what you’re sexting about doesn’t need to reflect what you’re really doing in the moment; you can say you’re naked in bed when you’re actually reading a book in your pajamas. Try these prompts:
😎Describe what you're wearing.
“I’m in a suit and tie. I look very put together. For now.”
“I’m taking off my belt and thinking about you.”
“I’m in that shirt you really like. The blue one.”
😈Describe what you’re “doing” right now.
“I’m lying in bed naked.”
“I’m touching myself.”
“I’m so hard right now, thinking about you.”
😛Describe what you want to do later.
“I want to strip you naked as soon as I see you.”
“I want to bend you over my desk when you get here.”
“I want to throw you on the bed and have my way with you.”
Here's what to say during IRL dirty talk.
Now’s the time to ask your partner, “I thought our sexting conversation yesterday was really hot. Did you?” If they agree, ask, “What did you like about it?” This way, you can proceed to IRL dirty talk with even more of a sense of what they're into. (You could even pick up a sexting scene where you left off.)
Another good way to start talking dirty is to describe your senses: what you’re feeling, seeing, smelling, tasting, and hearing in that moment, explains Rachel Wright, MA, LMFT.
For how things feel, Wright suggests you say, “Your X feels so incredible against my Y."
For how things look: "Your X looks unbelievably sexy right now."
For how things smell: "Your X smells like heaven. I could stay here all night."
For how things taste: "You taste so damn sweet. I could eat you for every meal.”
For how things sound: “I love hearing the sound of your ass slapping against me.”
Here are some more sample scripts to keep the creative juices flowing:
“You’re so sexy. I love it when you’re naked.”
“What do you want me to do to you?”
“I want to feel how wet you are.”
“Be a good little sl*t and spread your legs for me.”
“I can’t wait to slide my c*ck inside you.”
“I can’t wait to see your lips around my d*ck.”
Next, try these dirty talk "Mad Libs."
Fill in the blanks to spin some sexy scripts of your own.
Option 1: I love it when you [VERB] my [ADJECTIVE] [NOUN].
Option 2: You have the most [ADJECTIVE] [NOUN].
Option 3: You're so good at [VERB+ING] my [NOUN].
Option 1: I'm going to [VERB] your [NOUN] with my [NOUN].
Option 2: I'm going to [VERB] all over your/in your [NOUN].
Option 3: If you're not good, I'm going to [VERB] all over your/on your [NOUN].
Option 1: I want to touch your [NOUN] with my [NOUN].
Option 2: Will you [VERB] your/my [NOUN]?
Option 3: I've been naughty/bad. I deserve [FILL IN THE BLANK].
Engage in aftercare.
Dirty talk can get really kinky, really fast! That's why it's a good idea to practice aftercare: essentially, any routine that helps everyone feel safe and cared for after a sexual interaction. “Be sure to check in with your partner after sex to see how they are processing and feeling about your dirty talk session,” Hinds says. “If things got really hot and heavy verbally, you’ll want to make sure your partner is feeling heard because big emotions can arise!”
Especially for those that enjoy consensually degrading verbal play, aftercare is an essential piece of sex to keep the consent, communication, and boundaries in line for all.
This is your partner's brain on dirty talk.
The psychology of dirty talk “hasn’t received a ton of study,” says Lehmiller. But some studies have reported that erotic stimuli (e.g., dirty talk) fire up the hypothalamus, a region of the brain that influences sexual behavior. That tracks with Lehmiller’s findings. “I [asked] whether people had fantasies about being called a sl*t or b*tch and found that this was quite popular,” he says. He found that 40 percent of women had fantasized about being called a demeaning name during sex.
One possible reason is that degrading language is considered taboo and therefore activates the brain’s fear responses in the amygdala—which also controls excitement and pleasure. “Another part of the explanation is that wanting to be called demeaning names is a form of masochism—the act of deriving pleasure from pain,” Lehmiller explains.
Here's where to get some extra dirty talk inspiration.
Reading erotica or listening to audio porn will expand your dirty-talk repertoire. It may also turn you on! “The immersive nature of listening to a real voice talk specifically and directly to you in a highly sexual manner is intensely exciting,” says Anna Richards, founder of Frolicme, an independent, ethical platform publishing films, erotic stories, and audio porn.
The Best Women’s Erotica, Volume 4, edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel
Couples, by John Updike
Aqua Erotica: 18 Erotic Stories for a Steamy Bath, by Mary Anne Mohanraj
The Swimming-Pool Library, by Alan Hollinghurst
Fifty Shades of Grey, by E L James
Want more? Goodreads has an “Erotica for Men” reading list with more than 100 books.
Dipsea: Basically the Headspace of porn. It offers bite-sized erotic stories to get your motor going.
Frolicme: A one-stop shop for original, ethically made videos, erotic stories, and audio porn.
Some suggestions for erotic listening: Play it at the gym for ideas, turn it on while you’re having sex, or send it to a partner as a way to stoke their imagination.
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