Any of these thoughts sound familiar? Rachel Wright, a marriage and family therapist, says she hears these concerns from her clients all the damn time. Plenty of women are eager to give it a go, but struggle with dirty talk block.
And that's a shame, because embracing dirty talk can improve your relationship: “Sexual arousal happens in the brain as well as the genitals, and dirty talk lets us imagine things that excite us,” explains sexologist Jill McDevitt. “And because it does involve some emotional risk-taking...if you can pull it off, that's a sexy shared thing you and your partner have together."
If you want to try talking dirty, there are plenty of ways to do it without feeling (too) awkward.
1. Don’t do it if you truly don’t want to.
Dirty talk isn’t always a good thing. If you’re not “all in,” or don’t trust the other person, it's not going to be fun. “Do it if you feel it is true to you; don’t do it because you think others do it and you should try it," says sexuality and relationship consultant Sara Nasserzadeh.
2. Talk about talking dirty.
As with any new sex act you'd like to explore—whether it's trying anal for the first time or experimenting with sex toys—it's a good idea to give your partner a head's up that dirty talk is something you want to do. (Y'know before just blurting out, “I’m going to f--- you until you pass out.”)
Try initiating the convo while you're, say, cozied up on the couch post-movie—not in the bedroom—by simply asking partners what turns them on, or what they like about the porn they watch. This could not only help you avoid an awk situation, but it may even serve as some sexy foreplay.
And talking about your interest in dirty talk is particularly important if one partner is interested in using degrading dialogue, McDevitt says. “Referencing violent fantasies requires a lot of fore-talk, safe words, parameters, and trust,” she says.
3. Read an erotic book together.
Reading racy books aloud to one another will help build your dirty vocabulary but buffer the awkwardness of pulling phrases out of thin air, McDevitt says.
“Use someone's else's words first,” she says. “You still get to hear the erotic language and story, but it’s not from your imagination.”
4. Play a foreplay game.
Sex game and toy companies exist for a reason—don’t be afraid to use them. Like a, for example, that prompts you and your partner to share fantasies, describe desires, compliment each other’s bodies and more.
Using a fun game can take some of the pressure off coming up with your ideas out of thin air, and help you hones your sexy communication skills, says McDevitt.
5. Warm up via texts.
Dirty talk can, of course, start before you see your partner—or heck, even meet him or her. Early in a relationship, start cautiously with more playful than dirty comments or emojis, recommends Wright. Once you have a sense for the person’s comfort with edgy texts, you can get increasingly more scandalous.
“Start small,” Wright says, “Perhaps saying something like, ‘I can’t wait to feel your body on me,” to see how that plays out before saying anything like ‘I want you to hold me down and choke me as you put your throbbing cock in my mouth.’”
6. Use voice recordings.
The downside of texting rather than calling, however, is that you and your partner (or lover-to be) can’t hear each other’s voices—something that can be erotic in itself. Try recording a quick voice memo saying nothing more than “I can’t wait to see you later” to turn up the heat.
Unlike X-rated photos, voice memos are pretty low-risk, Nasserzadeh says. “Voice recordings can be way more personal, way more romantic, and, for people who prefer auditory erotica, way more arousing,” she says.
7. Talk about something you liked in the past.
Getting turned on just thinking about your last rendezvous with your lover? Tell him or her, whether it’s as innocent as getting butterflies while holding hands or as graphic as wanting to feel a hand up your skirt at dinner. Need some hand-holding yourself? Try “I love the sounds you make when I’m ___,” “You look so hot when you ___,” or “I love when you touch me ___,” Wright recommends.
8. Make an observation in the moment.
If you’re having sex, you’re already doing something super-hot—double the pleasure by simply noting something specific about it like “you're so hard right now” or “I'm super wet for you,” McDevitt suggests.
Use all your senses to make observations, Wright adds. “You taste ___” or “You smell like ___” can be turn-ons, too.
9. Call out what you like.
Remember: Your partner isn’t a mind reader. But saying what you like while it’s happening can both help you get more of it and work as perfect dirty-talk fodder. “Be as descriptive as you can,” Wright says.
Try this formula: “I love it when your ___ touches my ___” or “it gets me all ___ when you ___ with your ___.” Or, you can say something as simple as “mmm, I like that.”
“It’s not rocket science,” Forness says. “It’s just saying what’s on your mind.”
10. Don’t take a less-than-ideal reaction personally.
Cultural differences, past experiences, the current political climate, and plenty of other factors can play into how a partner takes your attempt at dirty talk. If something doesn’t land, call it out, Nasserzadeh recommends—and tell your partner to do the same.
“This will either deepen the relationship, offering a chance to learn about each other further, or end the relationship,” she says. If the latter, it probably wasn’t meant to be. “If you are staying within what you feel is comfortable,” Wright says, “then you have nothing to be ashamed of.”
This article originally appeared on Women's Health US