When done right, and said by someone you’re incredibly attracted to, nothing’s sexier than vocal sex. The brain is our biggest sexual organ, so it makes sense that we’re turned on by what our partners say in the heat of the moment. (And vice versa; voicing the desires and fantasies you usually keep to yourself to a rapt audience can be a huge turn-on.) This is commonly known as dirty talk.

Most people feel completely embarrassed and ridiculous at the thought of trying it, because they’ve never been taught the basic guidelines.

In the bedroom, when someone says “Talk dirty to me baby…” the hopefully-soon-to-be dirty talker suddenly freezes up like a soaking wet roll of toilet paper thrown out of an igloo in Antartica.

“What should I say? What do they want me to say? Could I go too far? What if I can’t go far enough, or just sound lame, or stupid?”

Dirty talk is an often overlooked but very powerful aspect of eroticism. It activates the imagination, supercharges sexual polarity, and adds a steamy air of liberation to your naked shenanigans.

Relax a little—talking dirty isn’t an exact science, and navigating it relies more on how comfortable you are versus how much you know about it. Here’s how to talk dirty during sex, plus sexy things to say to your partner outside the bedroom to build excitement. All you need is a little confidence, a willing partner (or two!), and this dirty talk guide.

The basic rules of dirty talk

dirty talk

Communication is key in dirty talk

A good rule of thumb with dirty talk is to tell your partner what you want to do to them/with them before you’re actually doing it, and then, while you’re doing it, specifically describe what it is you like about it. So, before sex say what you want, and during sex say what you like.

What you say will be based on what you authentically desire in the moment, or what’s turning you on, but it could be something along the lines of “I’m trying to get work done right now, but I can’t stop thinking about last week when we were 69’ing and your delicious juices were flowing into my mouth”. A comment like that will probably push them over the edge and have them pouncing on you.

Dirty talk beginner? Just describe what you’re doing

If you’re a complete beginner, you’ll want to start small and gauge how you feel and your partner reacts, especially if it’s something you’ve never spoken about before. An easy way to do that? Simply describe what you’re doing or want to do with them. (Just make sure you are not too clinical sounding).

Once you’ve initiated banter, you can start to use it more regularly. Since you’re new to this, plan a few phrases you can handle in advance. Write them down in the notes section of your phone so you can refer to them if you get tongue tied. Really. Do this.

.. Or talk about how you’re feeling

One of the best ways to ease into a little dirty talk is to describe how your partner’s actions make you feel in the moment. As an added bonus, this is a great way to encourage and direct your partner toward doing more of what you crave. “I love it when you touch me just like that.” “Your skin feels so good up against my skin.”.. and so on!

Add details in your dirty talk

For a lot of people, it’s the details of dirty talk that make it so much of a turn on. For the record, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with statements like “Yeah, I like that,” “You look so hot right now,” and “I love having sex with you.” However, they can be extremely more effective if you shift them each with a bit of descriptive detail. “Yeah, I like that” becomes “Oh my god, keep doing that. I love your big/little hands all over my ass/balls/chest/etc.. You are the sexiest person on the planet.” And so on.

Be enthusiastic and don’t overthink before you dirty talk!

No matter what else you’re feeling, lead with enthusiasm. Showing enthusiasm for what you’re doing and for the person you’re with can help people feel wanted and desired. Describe everything using all five senses. What are you seeing, feeling, hearing, smelling? Share that!

Don’t judge

A greater sense of intimacy can blossom in your relationship by learning how to talk dirty. Dirty talking isn’t about it being gross or crude or vulgar, it’s just more about, does it make you feel hot? What makes a phrase dirty is how sexually aroused you get from hearing it. Be the person that champions someone’s sexual fantasy, not crushes it.