A deep dive into dirty talk—and how to do it without feeling like an awkward llama


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F*ck me like someone who closes deals. That is an actual line I actually once said. Verbatim. Out loud. To my partner. When he was inside me. Why? Because he had just closed a deal at work, so that felt like a good thing to say in the moment. What ensued was the kind of sex I imagine inspires romance novels. But after, we burst out laughing as we repeated my bold outcry in different accents back and forth to each other.

Dirty talk. So many of us think it’s hot (in fact, research has shown that those who communicate pleasure during sex are more likely to experience sexual satisfaction than those who did not). But outside the bedroom (or kitchen counter, or really wherever the urge strikes), those grunted phrases come across as naughty and awkward in the best of scenarios and filthy and degrading in the worst. So what is it exactly about erotic-leaning chatter that is such a turn on for so many people?

Below, experts dish on why the discourse can be so sexy—plus, seven tips for how to talk dirty without feeling like an awkward llama.

Why dirty talk can be a turn-on

Beyond being undeniably hot, talking dirty also appeals to our brains, our bodies, and it flips the bird to standards of societal decorum. Furthermore, it introduces an additional sense (hearing) to any sexcapade, and is therefore able to stimulate the brain more so than touch alone. “Dirty talk makes the interaction a mind and body experience,” says sexologist Megan Stubbs, EdD.

There’s some pretty hefty and dense neuroscience behind how and why this transpires, but the SparkNotes version is that our brains are our most powerful sexual organs and our most receptive erogenous zones, says Stuart Nugent, brand manager at luxury sex-toy company LELO. Erotic dialogue help us vocalize our fantasies by letting us pretend to be someone other than ourselves, in a sense. “Sharing our desires can can help strengthen intimate bonds and trust,” says Nugent. “We say things in dirty talk that would be wholly inappropriate in other social situations. If you were asked if you wanted gravy at dinner, it would be out of the ordinary to reply ‘I want it harder, deeper, faster.’” Basically, there’s a level of ease involved when we sense freedom to express things we’ve been taught to suppress.

While the language itself and bluntness with which its delivered is what makes dirty talk arousing, it can still certainly make people feel uncomfortable. “But that discomfort is only a reflection of the fact that they lack experience saying things aloud, without a filter, or intentionally to titillate their partner,” says LGBTQ+ expert and counselor Kryss Shane, LSW. In other words, practice makes perfect—and these tips can help.

Learn how to dirty talk—even if you feel super-weird about it

1. Keep it simple

It doesn’t have to be wildly elaborate—just ease into things by saying exactly what’s happening or what you want to happen. Start sentences with phrases like “I want” or “I wish,” says Dr. Stubbs. For example, “I want to feel your lips against my neck” and “I wish I could feel your cock inside me.”

Once that feels comfortable, you can craft phrases that are more elaborate, says sexologist Jill McDevitt, PhD. Think: “I love watching your tits/ass/thighs bouncing right now,” or “I like when your cock/clit/nipples are hard like this.”

2. Flattery, but make it sexy

Flattery will get you…everywhere. Just as in all other aspects of life, folks love being complimented during sex (especially those whose love language is words of affirmation). Confirm when something feels good or that you’re into what’s going on. (“It feels so good when you suck my ear” and “I like it when you touch me there.”)

Dr. Stubbs suggests asking your partner how they like hearing their body described. For instance, do they like being told that that they’re strong, tight, and sexy? Or smooth, juicy, soft and warm? Or, really, any other adjectives.

3. Get your inspiration from anywhere

Perfume commercials, music, movies, books, TV shows—you name it. If its narrative thread is H-O-T, take inspo from it. For instance, I recently stumbled across the line, “In the rain. In a squat. In an orgy. We meet again” in Rachel Kushner’s The Flamethrowers, and later used a similar line with my partner.

One caveat: If you’re new to the dirty-talk scene, Dr. Stubbs cautions against taking your cues from porn (see: “f*ck me like someone who closes deals”). “If you and your partner go from silent sex to you saying, ‘I want to be your cum dumpster,’ it might throw off your partner and take them out of the moment.”

4. Read erotica out loud to your partner

Dr. McDevitt says you can even read those extra-steamy scenes from your romance novels to your partner to ease into using naughty lingo. “It helps you get more comfortable with the language, and if something does feel awkward, you know the sentiment isn’t coming from your imagination, so it’s less of an emotional risk.”

The Best Women’s Erotica of the Year volumes, edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel, are a great place to start. You might also try listening to the storytelling erotica app Dipsea together.

5. Engage the five senses

Love the way your partner tastes? Tell them. Do the sounds your partner makes arouse you? Whisper in their ear, “I love when you grunt for me.”

Dr. Stubbs also says telling your partner where you want to taste and smell them, and how you want to see them can be stimulating. For instance, imagine hearing “I want to taste the inside of your thigh.” or “I want to memorize the way you smell.” or “I want to see the way you look bent over that chair.”

6. Ask questions

This is also a great way to incorporate consent into your dirty-talk lingo, says intimacy educator Stella Harris, author of Tongue Tied: Untangling Communication in Sex, Kink, and RelationshipsAsk things like “Do you like that?” “How does that feel?” “Do you want some more?” ”Do you want me to use my mouth on you?”“Do you want me to X, Y or Z?”

7. Laugh!

Don’t worry about sounding silly. “It’s not only okay if there’s laughter during sex, it’s great,” says Harris. “Sex should be playful. I encourage people to stop putting pressure on sex and dirty talk and just giggle.”

Looking for even more sexy talk? Here, sexperts answer all your burning sex questions. Plus, do this one thing every morning to improve your sex life.

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