a beginner’s guide to talking dirty.

07 21 19 — Culture

For many people, the thought of talking dirty during sex can be especially daunting—and there can be many reasons for that.

Maybe you think that talking dirty means acting in a way that isn’t true to your character. Or you’re worried you’ll end up tongue-tied and won’t know what to say. Or perhaps the entire concept of it is just really embarrassing to you.

We hear you: Dirty talk isn’t for everyone. And if it really makes you uncomfortable, then by all means focus on other ways that can help spice things up in the bedroom. After all, no one should ever be pressured into doing something they don’t want to do. 

But there is a significant benefit to it: more open communication with your partner(s), which, as we’ve said before, can lead to better sex and deeper intimacy.  

So if the thought of it makes you cringe but you’d still like to give it a try, we’ve got you—here’s a beginner’s guide to dirty talk.

You don’t have to be explicit.

It’s easy to think that dirty talk is all vulgarities, but it can be far from that—the “dirt” is in the details. At a loss for words? Begin by describing how your partner makes you feel—just verbalizing the fact that they’re turning you on is a solid start. Or try asking them what they’d like you to do to them or describe what you’d like them to do to you. Even a little encouragement helps, for example, “I love it when you …” or “I can’t get enough of …” And if all else fails and you can’t bring yourself to say certain words, moans, heavy breathing and an enthusiastic “yes” can all do the trick.

Be yourself.

There are plenty of lists out there with suggested phrases you can use during sex to up the dirty talk. But aside from the fact that you might get stage fright and struggle to remember them in the heat of the moment, if such phrases feel unnatural or forced, they’re likely not going to feel sexy. Instead, think of a way of saying it that makes you feel a little more you. You can start off by trying a few slightly dirty things and then work your way up to your preferred amount of filth. Like anything worth doing well, it usually takes a bit of practice to build your confidence up.

Create anticipation.

Part of the appeal of talking dirty is the anticipation of what’s to, well, come. So describing exactly what you plan to do to your partner before you actually do it helps to build up sexual tension. And this can start long before you reach the bedroom—whisper your dirty plans in their ear while you’re out together at an event, sitting on the subway, or doing the laundry, for example. Since you’ll have them thinking about it from that moment on, they’ll likely be increasingly turned on until the moment you make good on your promise. Basically you’ll be just initiating foreplay very far in advance. 

Think of yourself as a narrator.

If you find yourself at a loss for words, there’s an easy remedy. Start narrating what you’re doing to your partner’s body and how they make you feel. That doesn’t mean you have to go full-on David Attenborough–style nature documentary (that said, if roleplay is your thing …). But it at least gives you some material to work with until you feel more comfortable coming up with your own original material. 

Another excellent source of ideas is returning to a time in the past when you and your partner had a particularly sexy encounter. Retracing history, so to speak, and adding embellishments where you see fit, can be just as hot as other kinds of dirty talk. 

Reading is sexy.

Erotic literature is a goldmine for dirty talk. Reading aloud a few extra-filthy passages from an erotic novel can not only be entertaining (who knew there were so many euphemisms for penis?), but it can also help you get comfortable with talking dirty without feeling like you might be judged for what you say. It’s kind of like having training wheels until you feel confident enough to ditch the book and fly solo. 

It’s all about the delivery.

One of the secrets to great dirty talk isn’t just what you say, but how you say it. A surefire way to make anything sound sexier? Whisper it. Try to keep your voice low and the delivery slow (without, you know, sounding like you’re trying to impersonate someone) to build the anticipation. This also helps if you’re still feeling a little shy, since it’s often easier to whisper something than to say it out loud (not to mention the fact that apartment walls can be pretty damn thin). 

Test the waters.

If you aren’t sure that your partner will be into dirty talk, try it once or twice casually during sex to see what their response is—you might be surprised. You can also ease into it by writing them suggestive text messages or dirty love notes that you can slip into their pocket or bag for them to discover later on. If you get a positive response, you can take things up a notch and extend the dirty talk to the bedroom. Bear in mind that everybody responds differently to language, and so while a word might be a real turn-on for one person, it could be jarring for another. Take note of how your partner responds to what you’re saying and use that to guide what else you say. 

Feel like you’ve mastered the art of talking dirty? Try our guide to having great phone sex.