How to ask for what you want in sex

The art of intimate communication

Enhancing intimacy and pleasure

Do you find it difficult to ask for what you want during sex? Perhaps you have a belief that you’re not ‘allowed’ to say what you want, adjust what your partner is doing, or share your preferences and desires. A lot of my clients share with me that they don’t know how to communicate their sexual desires and boundaries, give feedback on touch or be more vocal about arousal and pleasure. Many tell me that they have a hard time ‘finding their voice’, ‘finding the words’ or that they feel shy or self-conscious about even making any noise during intimate experiences and sex. This really limits their pleasure, their sexual satisfaction and their connection with their partner. It’s also often a barrier in the way of deep bodily relaxation: if you’re trying to keep quiet you’re most probably holding physical tension, as well as holding your breath! 

Embracing your voice during sex

In this article I’m going to share two simple ways that you can help yourself get through that little blockage in the throat/voice so you can relax and make sounds, and feel confident telling your partner what you want/need/enjoy/don’t enjoy. These two practices are foundation aspects in my bodywork and virtual coaching sessions – things that we cover during a first meeting. It’s often an eye-opener for people that they feel uncomfortable at first, especially if they’ve been conditioned to remain silent or shy about their desires. Once you start to play with these simple exercises though they can be so liberating; opening you up to more relaxed and pleasurable intimate experiences in the future.

Ask for what you want

Practice 1: Gentle vibrations

The first thing we’ll do is just to play with making some sound – a sigh, hum or moan – when you exhale. It doesn’t have to be loud, it doesn’t have to be dramatic; it’s just a small vibration or resonance in the chest and throat. Think about when you yawn and that bit of sound happens with the exhale. Or when you taste something really yummy and that little ‘mmmmm’ sound happens.

Humming, or gentle sound on the exhale, stimulates your vagus nerve and contributes to the activation of the parasympathetic branch of nervous system: the mechanism for relaxation and rest.

Intentionally making sound also keeps you present and aware of your breath, so it’s a great way to bring your attention back to your body and the present moment if you drift off into distractions, thoughts or visual fantasies.

Allowing yourself to make these kind of sounds during sex and intimacy can be a helpful indicator to your partner if something feels good or not. They can adjust or carry on with what they’re doing, without you having to go into lots of complicated or potentially overwhelming conversation.

Take a moment to try this exercise: set a timer for 90 seconds and comfortably position yourself with support for your back and head. You can also do this lying down, with your hands resting gently on your torso somewhere. Alternatively, I quite like to do this whilst lying on my belly with my head turned to one side and my cheek resting on the back of my hands. Breathe slowly and rhythmically, with soft sounds on the exhale.

How does it feel? A little silly? A little awkward? Strangely nice? Maybe there’s no sound coming out, maybe there’s lots! You might feel the urge to giggle or laugh, sometimes people feel a bit tearful. Totally normal. Connecting to your voice and making yourself heard can be really vulnerable; especially if you are used to keeping quiet, restricting your sense of expression or not asking for what you want during sex.

Intimate communication

Practice 2: Desire blurts

So now that you’re all a little warmed up and have got some vibration going in your vocal chords, we’re going to add some words and play a little game called Desire Blurts. This is inspired by one of my teachers – Betty Martin – and the idea is to practice overriding the ‘filter’ of your mind (the part that worries about what other people will think, what is ‘appropriate’, what a good girl/good boy should say, and what will be met with approval instead of rejection).

This game is intended to help you get more comfortable with accessing the deeper, authentic desires of your body and then expressing them in a relaxed way. We’re only exploring words, not actions, which means you can let go of achieving a specific outcome and just focus on the process of noticing your own desire arising, valuing that it’s worth listening to, and then communicating it. This allows you to get over the self-conscious emotional charge of describing something sexual or intimate, and is a good way to develop your own intimate vocabulary and language so you can feel more fluent in asking for what you want during sex.

The more comfortable you are with those things, the easier it will be to tell your partner what you enjoy, to direct their touch and receive the stimulation you want without editing yourself or (on the other end of the spectrum) micro-managing the experience. On the other side of the fence, this practice makes it easier to hear and integrate requests and feedback from your partner(s) whilst you’re giving massage/interacting sexually, without getting triggered because you feel like you’ve ‘done it wrong’. If you know and trust your own ability to communicate what you want, you can innately trust that others are doing the same and can respond to them authentically (i.e. not overstepping your own boundaries and agreeing to something you don’t feel comfortable giving).

Intimate communication

You can do this with a partner or on your own. With a partner you’ll take turns, alternating back and forth. On your own, you can just chat away to yourself (perhaps make sure your windows and doors are closed if you don’t want to be overheard).

Set a timer for 3 minutes and within that time this is what you’re going to do…

  • sit side by side, as if on a bus
  • allow a constant flow of words, alternating back and forth between each person (or just a constant stream if by yourself)
  • don’t respond with a ‘yes/no’ etc to your partner, and remember this is just about the ‘saying’ not the ‘doing’
  • begin every sentence with the words ‘I WANT YOU TO…’ I’ll give you some examples:
  • I want you to gently stroke my cheek with your fingertips / I want you to rest your whole body weight on top of me / I want you to lick and nibble my nipples / I want you to use a vibrator on my clit / I want you to deep throat my cock etc…
  • If you find that you go blank (i.e. your ‘filter’ kicks in), rather than staying silent and retreating inwards, I want you to just say ‘blah blah blah’ until some inspiration or desire pops through. You could also just go back to the sighs or sound vibration from earlier. This is important to break the habit of shutting down, shutting your mouth and disconnecting.

Try to focus on types of touch and stimulation that you want to receive (avoid going into the ‘heady’ space of day-to-day gripes like ‘I want you to do the dishes every now and then’ etc)

You can play it safe and just state things you know you already enjoy or incorporate in your intimacy (but perhaps have never actually said out loud).

Or you can take a risk and allow something deeper to come up: something you’re curious about, have never dared to share or that feels a bit edgy. In fact, I actively encourage you to try this.

You might find that totally random, silly and non-sensical things come up – if you get the giggles, or other emotional responses happen (however subtle they are), just allow those to happen, then reconnect with your breath and keep the words flowing.

Nothing is going to be acted on, it’s simply a practice in expressing and communication. So if your partner says ‘I WANT YOU TO SUCK MY COCK/LICK MY PUSSY’ you don’t jump in and do it 😉 That’s another game for another day!

Integration and deeper learning

After the first round you can share your thoughts with each other, write yourself some notes if you were doing it alone, or just sit quietly with it – whatever works for you. Here’s a couple of prompts to help you:

  • Did you play it safe? Give an example.
  • Did you take a risk? Give an example.
  • How did it feel to hear yourself asking for what you want?
  • How did it feel to hear your partner asking for what they want?
  • What emotion(s) did you experience?
  • What physical sensations did you notice? Heat, cold, fizzing, tingling, breath, tension, relaxation etc.
  • Did your filter kick in? What did that feel like in terms of physical sensations?
  • Was it easy/difficult to notice, value and communicate your desires? Do you think you get stuck at one of those stages in particular?
  • Did anything surprise you about this exercise?

Enjoy playing with sound and words

I hope this exercise helps you in feeling more confident and relaxed about describing intimate experiences, talking about them and asking for what you want during sex. It’s absolutely like training a muscle: the more you do it the easier it becomes. Practicing it in a low-stakes way like this (i.e. not always right in the middle of sex when you’re maybe feeling a bit naked and vulnerable) allows you to experiment and make mistakes without the added complication of actually then taking action. It can be fun to integrate this into non-intimate settings: sidle up beside your partner in the kitchen and whisper a desire in their ear, lean over and drop a little desire blurt to your partner whilst you’re waiting for your meal to be delivered in a restaurant, or send them a surprise voice note in the middle of the working day! The possibilities are endless.

To learn more about this, and other exercises for increasing intimacy in relationships, sign up to my Couples Intimate Massage course or get in touch via email for private coaching sessions.

With Love,