Dirty talk (and texts, and sounds, and more)
May 10th, 2023
What if the words just won't come? Daisy Jones shares some helpful suggestions for expanding your vocabulary, among other things.
Dirty talk can be daunting if you’re not used to being vocal, or are a little shy. It can feel especially tricky to introduce if you’ve only just started sleeping with someone or, on the flipside, have been with someone for years, and find yourself settled into a particular sexual script. But when done right, talking dirty can elevate a sexual experience. According to Medical Daily, dirty talk stimulates the amygdala, which is the part of your brain responsible for excitement and pleasure. If it’s something that gets you and your partner going, why not?
The issue for many is that there can be a wide gulf when it comes to sexual compatibility and communication. There’s this scene in HBO’s Girls that I always think of as the perfect example: Adam is having sex with his new girlfriend, Natalia, and they’re getting into it. Halfway through, he says something that viewers of the show will recognize as the kind of dialogue he used with his ex-girlfriend: “You’re a dirty little whore and you love my cock.” She stops suddenly, looking up. “No,” she says. “I can like your cock and not be a whore.”
Some people (for example: me), love being on the receiving end of some vocal filth in the bedroom, regardless (or maybe because of?) how unhinged it can sound. Others, like Natalia, might find it demeaning and/or distracting. In fact, one recent study from Superdrug found that ‘derogatory’ dirty talk (e.g. “whore”; “daddy”) during sex was their number one turn-off. Meanwhile it was the number three turn-on for others.
Like any sexual act, then, it’s important to explore what your partner—and yourself!— are into before randomly throwing out a torrent of porn-style lines in the bedroom. You might think calling someone “mommy” is the hottest thing, whereas the person you're sleeping with might find it deeply unsexy—uncomfortable, even. The only way you can know is, as ever, to ask and find out.
With the above in mind, here’s our guide on where to begin, and where to go from there.
Find out what kind of dirty talk you’re both into.
This isn’t a job interview, so there’s no need for a stiff, formal chat. But it’s worth gauging if your partner has specific turn-ons or turn-offs. A good way to do this, I think, is by disclosing your own first (“It really gets me going when someone says good girl”). This can create an environment of sharing, so the other person might feel more at ease doing the same. Maybe they hate anything that sounds too forced or “porn-y.” Maybe they love it when you tell them what you’re doing as you’re doing it. Maybe they get off on a classic harder. Nobody can mind-read, so you’ve got to ask.
Start with something vague and positive.
If you’re not usually vocal, it might feel a bit unnatural to go from pure silence to a detailed monologue. Easing into it and building can be helpful. A simple “fuck, yes” or “I’m so turned on right now” can go a long way. Once you’re used to making noise in general, you can get a little more specific and confident.
Conversely, if you want your partner to be more vocal, asking questions can help set the tone (“Do you like that? Tell me how you like that,” etc, etc). Essentially: you don’t have to go from zero to 100 immediately.
Lucy Rowett, a sex and intimacy coach, suggests starting out with moans and groans of pleasure—but only when it actually feels good, not just for performance sake. It’s worth pointing out here that 44 percent of those from the US and Europe report moaning as turning them on the most. “Then you can go up a notch by saying how you like how your partner smells, tastes, feels or looks,” says Rowett.
Don’t be afraid to get imaginative and playful.
There is nothing hotter than someone confident who owns their sexual pleasure. So don’t be afraid to let loose and say whatever comes to mind, in the moment. “Will it feel awkward at first? Absobloodylutely,” says Rowett. “In fact, expect it to be awkward, because that's when you know you're trying something new. Embrace the awkward and let it be something that brings you closer together.”
And if you’re worried about saying the wrong thing, or turning your partner off? Well, if you’ve had a conversation beforehand, then you should already have an idea of what your partner is or isn’t into.
“You cannot 100 percent avoid triggering your partner or being triggered, and to try and do this will make you both anxious,” says Rowlett. “Instead, notice your partner's feedback in bed—both verbal and non-verbal. If you say something and you immediately feel their body tense up, close up, or they try to move away, then check in and ask if they’re okay. If you're in doubt, please stop and check in.”
Dirty talk needn’t be confined to the bedroom.
As with anything sexual, a little build up can go a long way. I love receiving dirty messages from my partner when I’m out and about. This can be a sort of extended foreplay, in which you’re looking forward to what awaits you when you get home. It’s also just fun and silly, isn’t it? Intimacy and playfulness needn’t always be confined to sex and sex alone.
Rowlett says that sexting is also a good way of practising dirty talk, and what you like hearing or saying in sexual scenarios. “It’s easier to write it out,” says Rowlett. “Be experimental and playful. If you're worried about it being seen, use a private messaging app like Telegram or Signal. Facebook or Instagram messenger are not the place to try it out! ”
Practice on your own.
This might sound a little unhinged, but hear me out. If you’re too shy or embarrassed to do something in front of yourself, then how are you going to completely relax around another person? I’m not suggesting you call yourself dirty names in the mirror before going to work—there’s a time and a place—but a bit of dirty talk during solo play can get you used to speaking out loud, and also give you an idea of what turns you on. If you’re fantasizing about another person, then why not incorporate dirty talk into that fantasy?
Most of all, this is supposed to be fun. Sex needn’t ever feel like a test, or a source of anxiety. Be open, experiment a little, and enjoy.
- Dirty talk