If you grew up on Earth in the last 100 years, you were probably introduced to the *wild* idea of talking and narrating during sex as “dirty talk.” But since there’s nothing dirty about sex (unless you’re into wilderness forays), we’re dropping the sex shame-y label and opting for a new, more positive term: erotic talk.

Erotic talk (noun)

The use of words, sounds, and noises during sexual activity to give and get consent, instruct, construct a fantasy, build arousal or tension, and ultimately enhance connection between you and your partner(s).

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“Talking explicitly brings the brain into the bedroom in a way that can be incredibly arousing,” says Katarina “TheDommeKat” Pierce, a New York-based dominatrix who specializes in dirty talk.

So, dear reader, if you’re looking to dabble in the world of erotic talk, keep reading. We even included some sexologist-approved lines to try out.

No doubt, sex-texting is a good way to get your (ahem) feet wet. The reason is simple: You get more time to respond!

But the rules of texting explicitly are a little different than dirty talking, so heed the below tips.

1. Invite your partner to sext with you

Your libdio might be chatting you up right now. But that doesn’t mean your recent right swipe enjoys sexting. So before you press send? Make sure your partner consents to your NSFW text.

Ask: “I’d love to tell you about the dirty dream I had last night. What’re your thoughts on an R-rated convo right now?”

2. Build up slowly

You don’t immediately need to tell someone you want to lick their [fill in the blank] or put your [fill in the blank] in their [fill in the blank].

Instead, “draw it out, draw it out, make it last an hour or 2,” says clinical sexologist Megan Stubbs.

Basically, just like regular sex, foreplay is key.

3. Describe a scene

You’ve got time to craft a lengthier blurb, so use it.

“Take the time to remind your partner of the last time you had sex, or re-tell the tale of the first time you had sex from your perspective,” suggests Dr. Stubbs. “Or, tell them what you would do to them if they showed up at your house right now.”

Again for the people in the back: Adjectives are your friends here.

4. Use erotica for inspo

Don’t be shy about scrolling through Literotica, Aurore, or Bellesa for inspiration. Reading some erotica online can take some of the pressure off coming up with your own phrases.

5. Send a nude

Consenting to chatting isn’t the same as consenting to a nude!

“If you want to share a photo of yourself,” Dr. Stubbs says, “Ask a question like, ‘I just took an X-rated photo that I’d love to show you. Are you open to receiving it?'”

Tips for sending a quality nude

  • Mind the lighting. “You want to be frontlit, not backlit or from above. Back lighting will create a weird shadow and wash you out,” says certified sex coach Gigi Engle, Womanizer sexpert and the author of All The F*cking Mistakes: a guide to sex, love, and life.
  • Zoom out. This doesn’t necessarily mean a full body shot but sending a super zoomed in shot of a penis or vagina takes away context that adds to the sexiness of a photo.
  • Leave some clothes on. Think of this like building suspense. Make them use their imagination for what’s coming.
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Whether you’re new to all this or just tired of the same rehearsed preamble you’ve been doing for years, these phrases are meant to stir the imagination and provide inspiration.

“If you’re nervous about sexting or dirty talking, there’s no harm in practicing the phrases you like in the mirror, or even writing a note of one-liners and peaking at it in the moment,” says Engle.

Here are some ideas for sex IRL, whether it’s during foreplay or during:

  • “I like it when you kiss the soft skin on my thighs/belly/arms.”
  • “I couldn’t stop thinking about how your lips feel on my body today.”
  • “I like it when you make me beg for it.”
  • “Come here. I want to hold your hard c*ck/touch your wet p*ssy in/with my hand.”
  • “I’m going to f*ck you until you come all over me.”

These are the types of phrases you can use over text/video/phone:

  • “Remember last week when I pinned you against the kitchen wall? I wish I could do that right now.”
  • “I’ve been thinking about the way you taste all day at work. I can’t focus on anything but the thought of you.”
  • “I’m imagining the way your nipples look when you wear a shirt with no bra.”
  • “I wish you were here to use my [name of sex toy here] on me.”
  • “I’m really looking forward to you wrapping your long arms around me tonight.”

1. It’s about connection, not performance

A lot of people get hung up on how they sound when they talk to their partner explicitly. It may help any squeamishness you feel to reframe it as an exercise in vulnerability. Talking erotically is supposed to feel new, even a little scary! This isn’t how we talk in public, after all.

And taking that leap in the presence of another person means you trust them. Ultimately, this fuels connection and intimacy.

2. If it’s not your thing, don’t sweat it

If you still can’t shake the cringeyness of hearing the words come out of your mouth, don’t force it. Erotic talk can be fun and silly and arousing but it’s not a must-have for good sex.

“You should never feel pressured to try dirty talk, so long as you’re finding non-verbal ways to communicate and check-in,” says Stubbs. “Soundless, talk-free sex can be as hot as, if not hotter then sex with dirty talk.”

3. There can be one “talker”

When it comes to erotic talk, there’s no “right way.” It may be that one person in the duo is skilled and enthusiastic about describing body parts while the other prefers to stay quiet as they’re seduced.

If this sounds like you, try asking your partner if they’d be comfortable steering the erotic talk ship. You can say something along the lines of “It’s hard for me to stay turned on and think about what to say but it makes me really hot to hear you talk to me.”

4. Experiment with vulgarity (consensually)

“We get to say things in the bedroom that would be way too raunchy in most other contexts,” says Domme Kat, who also focuses on verbal degradation in her practice. “For some people, erotic talk is hot because it’s taboo.”

Using vulgarity is a form of breaking the rules: It gives you a rush. (Go ahead, see for yourself!) And in role playing, using taboo terminology can be a powerful tool for bringing a sexual fantasy to life.

But before you go calling your partner a “little slut,” it’s important you touch base with them. Everyone’s proclivity for vulgarity is different and words carry meaning.

“You want to use terminology that your partner enjoys, not terminology that they find triggering or just plain awkward,” says Dr. Stubbs.

5. Keep it simple and short

Trying to think of an elaborate narrative while at the same time trying to remain present and enjoy the moment can feel like mental gymnastics. Luckily, simple will do the trick just fine.

As Domme Katrina says, “Don’t underestimate how steamy short, subtle and simple lines can be in the moment!”

Some simple oldies but goodies include, “I like your big hands on me” and “I love the way you taste.”

6. Dive into the descriptions

As you get more comfortable, Engle recommends getting more specific with your wording. And yes, you can still keep it simple and be descriptive. The key? Adjectives.

“Honestly, the more adjectives you use, the better,” she says.

So rather than, “I like the way you taste,” you might try “You taste so salty and delicious.”

And rather than, “I love how your hands squeeze me,” you might try, “I love the way your big, calloused hands feel on my juicy ass.”

7. Pose a question

“Telling someone what you’re doing to them can enhance the physical sensation,” says Domme Kat. And asking a question, gives them the opportunity to participate, she says.

You might try, “Do you prefer when I lick you from top to bottom like this, or when I suck on the top like this?”

Or you can ask them if they want to try something on you. For example: “Babe, I love when you taste me. Is that something you might want to try?” Or, “Are you in the mood to use that vibrator we just got together?”

And, it should go without saying: No is always an acceptable answer! If your partner isn’t into that particular suggestion, don’t shy away from making another.

8. Swap words for naughty noises

“Moans, heavy breathing, gasps, and whatever sounds naturally come out of your mouth aren’t just filler sounds,” says Domme Kat. “They’re just as hot as words.”

So, if you get tongue-tied or your partner whispered something so hot your mind went blank and bits started to tingle don’t panic, just keep breathing, moaning, and groaning.

Plus, adds Engle, “[these noises] are really affirming and encourage your partner to keep going.”

9. Don’t be afraid to laugh!

“If you get embarrassed and laugh or something feels silly and you laugh, that’s okay,” says Engle. “Open yourself to the possibility that talking dirty can be both hot and silly.”

10. After, lean in to pillow talk

Even if you and your Sex Mate don’t utter much more than “I like that,” doing some post-dirty-talk pillow talk is a good idea.

“Debriefing gives you time to check in about what words you like, talk about what was fantasy vs. what you actually want to try, and more,” says Dr. Stubbs.

“Debriefing is a good practice for couples to get in after every single sexual encounter, anyway,” she says, “so this is good practice.”

Communication doesn’t have to mean exposing your deepest, darkest fears. Being open with your partner can be as simple as saying, “Hey, I really trust you but talking about this stuff is super hard for me.”

“Just telling them [that] will help you feel more at ease,” says Engle.

If your partner knows you’re nervous, they can help by being extra encouraging and receptive.

And remember to go easy on yourself. If erotic talk feels like a new language, that’s because it kind of is! It’s likely going to take a lot longer than a couple of nights to feel comfortable talking in this way.

The first step in learning something new is showing yourself compassion and allowing space for imperfection.

Because you will get word-garbled and you will phrase something in a totally awkward way. But any partner worth your time will understand you’re being human and appreciate your willingness to step outside your comfort zone.

Gabrielle Kassel (she/her) is a queer sex educator and wellness journalist who is committed to helping people feel the best they can in their bodies. In addition to Healthline, her work has appeared in publications such as Shape, Cosmopolitan, Well+Good, Health, Self, Women’s Health, Greatist, and more! In her free time, Gabrielle can be found coaching CrossFit, reviewing pleasure products, hiking with her border collie, or recording episodes of the podcast she co-hosts called Bad In Bed. Follow her on Instagram @Gabriellekassel.