Using your words: 5 ways to have better conversations about sex

Sex is better when we understand each other. To do that, we need to talk.

My first boyfriend at university was one delightfully kinky bastard. He was twenty-three and wore a lot of black leather. I was nineteen, fresh out of high school and wonderfully naive. Luckily, he was happy to explain what he enjoyed in the bedroom.

I felt fortunate to have such a great lover. ‘Wow,’ I thought, ‘I’m learning so much about sex!’

What he didn’t explain (and I failed to realise) was that his tastes were somewhat unusual. A few years later I started dating someone new and I assumed the sex would be exactly the same as with my previous beau. So, the first time my new lover and I got naked I grabbed his nipple between my thumb and forefinger and twisted it, hard. To say he was upset about my rabid nipple attack would be an understatement. From this incident I learned that when it comes to sex, everyone is different. If you don’t ask what your partner is into you may fail to satisfy – or, worse, you might make them squeal like a piglet.

Working out what partners find pleasurable is like solving a puzzle: it takes time to see the whole picture. Good communication in the bedroom accelerates this process. It’s less awkward than you think. It helps avoid bedroom disasters like the one mentioned above. And it’s much more fun than waking up the day after and worrying, ‘did they enjoy that as much as I did?’

Here are five ways to use your words for better sex.

1. Ask for consent (and sound sexy while you’re doing it)

Consent is pretty simple. Consent is necessary to avoid hurting others, and it’s also a great way to ensure that your partner is enjoying themselves. Done correctly, consent is no more awkward than getting your kit off in front of a stranger – if you can manage the latter, you’re also capable of doing the former.

Basically, consent means:

  • Asking before you do something (e.g., ‘I’d love to fuck you,’) and waiting for an enthusiastic ‘yes’.
  • Checking in while you’re doing something (I recommend ‘How does that feel?’)
  • Debriefing afterwards (e.g., ‘How was that for you?’)

How: get a crash course on how consent works. Then find out how to turn consent talk into hot talk.

The payoff: feeling confident that your lover is having a great experience.

2. Use the traffic light safe word system

A safe word is a password that allows anyone to stop sex at any time. It’s commonly used for kink but works really well for any type of interaction – sex, conversation, personal space….

The traffic light system uses three safewords:

  1. Green – ‘Yes, this is awesome, keep going’
  2. Orange – ‘I’m not enjoying this particular activity,’ or ‘ths is approaching my limits.’
  3. Red – ‘No,’ or ‘I’m not enjoying this at all.’ When red is called, everything stops.

It might sound silly, but having three simple words to tell your partner where you’re at is much quicker in the heat of the moment than saying ‘I really love the sex, but you need to stop twisting my nipples off RIGHT NOW’. Using the traffic light system allows you to make sure your partner is having fun without needing to use a lot of words.

The payoff: you’ll never again have to stop mid-intercourse to explain that you’re not into that tongue-in-the-ear thing.


3. Learn to Dirty Talk

In my early twenties I was too embarrassed to even say the word ‘pussy.’ Thankfully that time has passed, because directing someone on the best way to make you orgasm is really difficult when you can’t use any words to describe your genitalia. Talking dirty can be incredibly hot, if you’re with someone who’s into it (remember to use your consent skills to check first).

How: Read this awesome article at Coveteur. And remember what Dan Savage says: say what you want to do, say what you’re doing, say what you’ve just done. It really is that simple.

The payoff: saying the right thing at the right time turns good sex into mind-blowing sex.

4. Ask for what you want

How often do you ask for what you want in the bedroom?

Giving feedback might seem weird to you. Often, we worry about making our partners feel insecure. But because everyone is so different in what they enjoy, I think it’s unfair to expect your partner to work it all out by themselves. This is especially true for all those tricky things such as making someone cum. Why lie there wishing he sex was better, when you could offer a few useful directions?

We often hesitate to give directions because we’re worried about looking as thought we’re criticising our partners. Here’s a useful trick I use at work: always frame things in the positive. There’s no need to say, ‘You’re doing that completely wrong.’ Rather, praising someone then offering them a little bit of guidance helps them feel like they’re already on the right track.

Useful lines:

  • ‘That’s awesome, just go a bit faster.’
  • ‘You know what would be super hot right now? We could do my favourite position – can I show you?’

Like dirty talk, asking becomes easier the more you practice. Being comfortable with your partner helps – practice on friends and fuck buddies before you try it with new dates. If you have a play partner you trust, I recommend the Two-Minute Game by Curious Creatures.

The payoff: never again having to think ‘I wish he’d just move a bit to the right.’

5. Debrief afterwards

Okay, so I can see you saying, ‘This isn’t a bloody military operation. What are we debriefing for?’

Fact is, there’s a lot of stuff we don’t know about sex, and won’t ever figure it out unless we talk to the people we get sexy with. Talking afterwards is the only way you’ll ever get that all-important feedback that can turn you into an incredible lover. It’s also a lot of fun, while lying in bed, to talk about the best bits of the experience and give each other compliments.

Most folks aren’t used to debriefing. They might awkwardly ask, ‘How was that?’ Or ‘was that okay?’ but those questions don’t often give us much useful information. We’re usually too nervous to hear we’ve done something wrong, or too shy to share what we really think. My questions are different. I’ll say, ‘What was the best bit for you?’ Or ‘What would have made that even better?’ Asking specific questions means you’re more likely to get specific answers.

As far as I’m concerned, it’s a win/win situation. If my partner only has great things to say, I get to enjoy the compliments. Or if there’s something they wished was different, I can use what I’ve learned next time around.

Useful lines:

  • ‘What’s one thing that would have made that even better for you?’
  • ‘Tell me what you liked most about that.’

The payoff: Getting better every single time.

Trying to guess often leads to bad sex. By putting these techniques into practice, you’ll be able to zero in on exactly what your partner wants, get what you want, and learn from every sexual escapade. No guesswork. No bullshit. Just more fun, more trust, more honesty, more orgasms.

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