Lip Service: Hot Tips to Talking Dirty

It can be the sexiest thing you ever do in bed. Or it can get you laughed right out of the room.

Ashley*, 27, was well into a steamy encounter with her boyfriend recently when he began whispering in her ear, a sure way to get her hot he knew from experience. “At first it was the usual stuff: how hot I am, how my body’s amazing,” she describes. All good. Then he decided to dive into one of his fantasies.

Jim: “Oh, baby, I wish there was someone watching us.”

Ashley: “Oh, God, yes! Yes…”

Jim: “Mmm, yeah, I wish it was your sister .”

Ashley: “Oh, ye—wait. What?”

Talking dirty in bed is one of the best ways to turn ordinary sex kinky and wild. But it’s clearly a lot tougher to pull off than it might seem. When a slew of filth is tumbling out of your mouth, it’s easy to say things that are embarras­sing, offensive, or just plain weird. (“I want to see you with another woman—and a donkey!” is probably not going to be well received, even if that’s honestly what you’re thinking.) Plus, everyone’s comfort level is different. Words that turn one person on can turn another’s stomach—a lesson just as many women have learned in the heat of the moment as men.

There are so many dirty talk pitfalls, in fact, you might be tempted to swear it off altogether. But if my research is any indication, the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks. You just have to know when to open your mouth in bed and when to keep it busy with something else.

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The Allure of Lip Service

Most women have no trouble ooh-ing and aah-ing during sex, but we weren’t exactly brought up to curse like sailors. So for a lot of us, bringing filthy words into the bedroom feels extra naughty—and exhilarating. “I remember the first time I heard myself say, ‘Fuck me,’ in bed,” says Andrea, 29. “It felt incredibly sexy and powerful. Before then I’d been scared to say all the crazy things running through my mind during sex. But now it’s like I have Tourette’s.”

Of course, dirty talk doesn’t consist strictly of four-letter words. One of the greatest things about it is the variety of deliciously nasty things you’ll hear, from the standard curses to sexual commands to descriptions of bodily functions and detailed fantasies. And there’s a seemingly endless list of helpful verbs—“lick,” “suck,” “bite,” “smack,” “rub,” “squeeze,” “grab”—that in other contexts might be totally inno­cent, but in bed take on a whole new meaning.

For most, the real appeal isn’t just that “bad words” are flying around the room, but the idea we’re losing control—so mindlessly, freakishly into the sex we’re having, we could give a shit what’s proper. Some of us get to the point where we don’t even realize what’s coming out of our mouths. “My boyfriend once told me with a look of horror that I’d called him ‘daddy’ repeatedly the night before,” says Heather, 32. “I was like, ‘I said what? Really?’ I definitely don’t have any weird father issues or anything. I just don’t even think about what I’m saying when we have sex. It’s like I’m possessed. All I care about is being raunchy.” And the next morning? Most of us go back to being the sweet girls next door you first fell for.

When Foot Meets Mouth

Before you go breaking out the hardcore language, know there are limits to what’s acceptable. For example, not a lot of women are cool being referred to as your “dirty slut.” (Though a few definitely get off on it.) In fact, it’s safe to say that “slut,” “bitch,” and “whore,” are all words you should let her introduce first.

That said, don’t try too hard to be polite, either. “Pussy” is the gold standard when refer­ring to a woman’s anatomy, and most girls agree even the C-word is preferable to the clinical-sounding “vagina.” We want this to feel like wild, horny sex, not a visit to the gyne­cologist. Above the belt, feel free to refer to her “breasts” or “tits,” but never use “boobs,” “boob­ies,” or, God forbid, “titties.” Euphemisms are also pretty corny, especially if they’re used in a misguided effort to be romantic. “I once had a guy tell me, ‘I want to lick your beautiful flower,’” says Erin, 28. “It was the cheesiest thing I’ve ever heard—I didn’t know whether to be more embarrassed for him or for myself.”

Another cringe inducer: lifting porn dialogue. Some girls have even tested it out themselves—with disastrous results. “The first time I tried talking dirty, I stole a porn phrase and asked the guy if I was ‘tight enough’ for him,” says Lindsay, 30. “When he didn’t respond, I asked again, till finally he mumbled, ‘Uh, yeah.’ The whole exchange was so uncomfort­able.” Guys’ worst offense when it comes to porn theft? The weirdly impersonal use of “that,” as in, “suck that dick.” We know it’s attached to you—go ahead and refer to it as yours.

Sometimes dirty talk backfires because it’s just totally bizarre. Emily, 26, says, “This one guy I was seeing had really huge balls, and once in the middle of sex, he cried out, ‘My balls are as big as Texas!’ I actually started laughing. All my friends now refer to him as Fatty McBigBalls.” Jill, 30, has also been a victim of puzzling dirty talk: “My first boyfriend once told me in the middle of sex how much he loved ‘slapping skins’ with me. I didn’t even know what that meant—I thought he was asking for a hand job.” Confusing a woman midscrew will definitely turn her off. Though on the bright side, it’ll certainly make you memorable.

The trickiest dirty talk of all might be sharing your fantasies. Some women love talking through a smutty scenario, but some things are probably best left unsaid. Jessica, 29, relayed the following exchange with her boyfriend of three months, Brian:

Brian: “You like my dick?”
Jessica: “Yes, yes, I love it!”
Brian: “You think it’s big?”
Jessica: “Mmm, yes, it’s so big!”
.Brian: “Yeah, you want to have 10 guys at once, don’t you?”

“I broke down and started to cry,” Jessica says. She found the exchange so creepy that, soon
after, she and Brian were no longer hooking up—or even speaking at all.

Explains Megan Fleming, founder of the sexual health program at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City, “Dirty talk can go south if one partner feels scared by what the other is into. Sometimes, even in a monogamous relationship, fantasy should be private.” So if your fantasy is, say, her and your ex in a threesome with a paraplegic midget, keep it to yourself.

The Good Dirt

Some types of sex talk are virtu­ally no-fail. One is narrative: simply and vividly describing what’s happening—or about to happen—in the sack. “One of my favorite things is when a guy talks slowly through everything he’s going to do to me right before he does it. The anticipation drives me crazy,” says Allie, 29. “If he says, ‘I’m gonna make you scream,’ that’s generally exactly what happens.” Similarly, if a guy tells us how much he loves it when we’re doing something to him, it turns us on, too. “I love when a guy says I look sexy when I’m going down on him,” says Amy, 25. “Even though he’s the one getting the pleasure, it makes me so hot to hear him tell me how hard I make him.” This puts the focus on the moment, magnifying your every move and our every reaction.

Similarly, any conversation that involves instruction is guaranteed to heat up the action, too. Now, if you’re on the receiving end of these commands and suggestions, don’t take them as criticism. When she screams, “Harder, faster,” it doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong; in fact, it probably means you’re doing everything right. Giving instruction lets us have control, too, which is a major turn-on. “One night I started telling my boyfriend what to do from the moment we started hooking up,” says Samantha, 26. “‘Unbutton my shirt. Pull down my bra and circle my nipple with your tongue’…It was so hot to watch him do what­ever I said, and I got exactly what I wanted.”

But women are more than happy to take direction, too. Ultimately, we want to please you as much as you want to please us. Just be sure to speak with confidence. In fact, be demanding. “Lick my balls” may actually get you someplace, whereas, “Would you mind, maybe, just this once, perhaps licking my balls?” is just going to make her stifle a laugh.

The Last Word

Even if you and your girlfriend are comfortable sharing all your nasty thoughts with each other, there’s one more thing you should bear in mind: What’s said in bed stays in bed. As Lily, 24, says, “I don’t want to finish up great sex and then discuss over dinner whether I actually want to be ‘plowed into next week.’ If I said it during a steamy moment, it should never be repeated once we’re clothed.”

For many women dirty talk provides that last push over the edge; it’s the thing that brings us to orgasm after all our other senses have been worked up and we’re ready to explode. We may not want to act on the things we say, but hearing them out loud enhances our fantasies and lets us get filthy between the sheets—ideally, without any consequences outside of them. So go ahead and open your mouth, and don’t get freaked if she opens hers. After all, she won’t bite. Unless, of course, you ask her to.

Language Barriers Talking dirty can elevate your sex life to a new level. Sometimes, an incredibly confusing and uncomfortable level.

“I hooked up with one guy who started saying, ‘Hit me with your tits! Hit me with your tits!’ My breasts are big, but I can’t, like, put them in my hands and slap someone with them. I didn’t understand what the hell he wanted me to do.” Ellen, 29

“One guy in college said he wanted to lather me up with shampoo. We weren’t even in the shower—we were on his bed. Did he think I was unclean? Did he really just get off on the smell of Herbal Essences? I didn’t stick around to find out.” Sonia, 23

“I once slept with a guy who said nothing but, ‘Ooh, girl,’ over and over. At one point, while I was giving him head, I started hearing that song in my head—‘Ooh, child, things are gonna get easier…’—and almost choked laughing.” Monica, 26

“I briefly dated a British guy who pronounced the word ‘fuck’ like ‘fook.’ I wish I’d found it adorable
or endearing, but it was honestly so distracting. ‘Fook me! Fook me!’ I had to stop sleeping with
him because of it.” Aimee, 31

“Fooling around with my boyfriend once, I said, ‘If you want me, you can have me.’ I thought it sounded hot, but he was like, ‘Oh, you think? I mean, we are naked already. And we’ve only had sex about 100 times before.’ I guess it backfired.” Carlene, 27