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What's the best trick for heating things up in the bedroom? That little thing you do with your mouth. You know, talking. Experts agree: Words that could make a pillow blush can transform your sex life -- and maybe even your LIFE life.
"'Talking sexy' is simply a special way to talk to your partner," says Aline P. Zoldbrod, PhD, author of Sex Talk: Uncensored Exercises for Exploring What Really Turns You On (New Harbinger, 2002), noting that "sexy" words aren't just the "dirty" ones. "Sexy talk can be a 'normal' thought said in a seductive way, a compliment, even sounds like moans or sighs. It doesn't even have to be in bed," she says. "Talking sexy during everyday life creates a romantic, sensual, emotionally charged atmosphere."
Just ask, well, men. "In bed, 'talking dirty' is one of my favorite things to do -- and hear," says Ted, 34, of Weston, Massachusetts. "I get a wild feeling from thinking, 'See that woman I married, who'll be the mother of my children? The mouth on her!"
No matter how explicitly you express yourself, says Zoldbrod, "men like to know you're excited -- it makes them feel like good lovers. They like to feel that you're actively involved in what you're doing together."
What can get in the way, though, is the persistent notion that women aren't supposed to be "outspoken" -- especially about sex. "If they call Teresa Heinz Kerry 'opinionated' because she has opinions, how can you feel comfortable voicing your sexiest thoughts -- even to your partner?" asks psychotherapist Sharyn Wolf, author of How to Stay Lovers for Life (Plume, 1998).
We've been conditioned to talk "clean" -- but we can be reconditioned. "I was a reluctant dirty-talker until I realized how effective it was with my boyfriend," says Monica, 39, of Saratoga Springs, New York. "He likes to whisper things when we're out in public. The first time I did it to him; he couldn't wait to leave the party. Knowing we're both free to say what we want creates a new electricity between us."
What can sexy talk do for you? First, if you say (or moan!) what you want or like, you're likely to get it. "Studies show that women who are more able to talk about their sexual needs have sex more often and are more orgasmic," says Zoldbrod.
Also, two senses are better than one -- why not add hearing to touch? "You're enhancing verbally what's happening physically, adding another dimension," says Lonnie Barbach, PhD, author of The Erotic Edge: Erotica for Couples (Passion Press, 1995).
It worked for Margaret, 41, of Larchmont, New York. "I was super-shy at first, but over time, we built up trust -- and 'talking dirty' made sex even better," she says. "It helps us really communicate during sex, focus on the connection we have while simultaneously making it more risky, and therefore more exciting!"
For Tara, 35, of Sullivan's Island, South Carolina, dirty talk is like a secret language she shares only with her husband. "He knows that he is the only one who hears me talk that way. That is sexy," she says. "I know that I am the only one he would talk to that way. That is super-sexy."
Sexy talk also speaks volumes about your confidence and body image. "It puts women in touch with their power to be the hottest thing in the universe for that man at that moment," says Wolf. Knowing he loves us is nice, but lust has its place, too. "Explicit talk with my partner kills those evil insecurities that come up when I don't feel so great about my body," says Daphne, 39, of Laramie, Wyoming. "When we focus on the physical I'm reminded that he loves me not just for my personality, but also for the way I look and feel! Talking dirty together reminds me that oh, yeah, he lusts after me, too!"
Men are not immune to insecurity, either. "For me, the most exciting thing about sex is thinking, 'I love that you want to do this with me!'" says Rich, 31, of Carlisle, Massachusetts. "Actually hearing that she wants to? Off the charts."
Once you feel more confident and connected in your sexual relationship, you'll notice the shift all day. "When you learn to do things in the bedroom, the door swings out," says Barbach. "Being able to communicate better and more explicitly makes it easier to do so in all areas, like asking your partner for [everyday] things you need, or saying, 'I like it when you do this dishes this way.'" (You know, harder, faster...)
Ready to talk the dirty talk, but not sure where to start? There's no pressure to be fluent right away. "It may not just come automatically," says Wolf. "You're learning a new language." But practice can make passionate, as William, 34, of Woodside, California, attests: "I've known many women -- including my wife -- who say, "I feel silly talking dirty," but then within minutes sound like a 1-900 operator." Here are some great ways to get started: