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Two Sense: Enough With the Dirty Talk

Illustration credit: Ella Sarkisyan

My boyfriend and I have been talking dirty in bed for two years now. I've never had a problem with it, but lately I'm finding that I don't enjoy it as much, and sometimes I even want to tell him to stop and just have sex without the verbal part. I haven't said anything to him because I don't understand my feelings myself. I'm not sure if my sexual needs are just changing or if I want to decrease the dirty talk because we are getting more serious and I want to feel respected, the way a husband would respect a wife, as opposed to "dirty," the way one casual lover might see another. I know I must have some hang-up going on but I can't put my finger on it and I don't know what to say to my boyfriend.

He Said: Since you don't mention the nature of the dirty talk, it’s hard to assess the situation precisely. But here are a few conjectures. Since dirty talk draws from a limited vocabulary, you may have run out of stimulating lines. Personally, I sometimes can't stifle a laugh during sex when someone utters a line seemingly drawn directly from a porn script. Even the best dialogue gets boring through repetition. 

Since dirty talk often involves degrading language (bitch, slut, etc.), what begins as the turn-on of taboo can start to feel sexist or homophobic over time. But dirty talk does not have to be stigmatizing or disrespectful. Rather than bringing down the hammer on your kinky side altogether, try coming up with an alternative. Have you tried playing out scenes? You get to create a whole narrative and the dialogue that goes with it and the possibilities are infinite. Your imagination can come up with roles you find erotic and empowering.

She Said: You don’t give specifics, but I’m guessing there’s some language going on that would prompt your boyfriend to punch a stranger who addressed you on the street in such terms. As you’ve seen, it can be fun and empowering to play with such dark language and turn traditionally sexist or degrading labels (bitch, slut, the P word, the C word) into tools you can pick up or put down at will. But in order to really own your power over them, you must exercise the option to put them down when you feel like it. Instead of trying to analyze why you suddenly feel ill at ease, stay in the moment and simply tell your boyfriend what you want or don’t want. If there are specific words you want to ban for the time being, tell him. If you want to try making love silently for once, tell him that. Perhaps you want to hear him say he loves you, or worships you, or wants to take care of you. If he asks why, say honestly, “I’m not sure why. It has something to do with respect or power. I’m just going with my gut so I can find out.”

My guess is that once you exert control over the situation—and see that your boyfriend can also control himself according to your boundaries—you will feel flexible about sometimes talking dirty and sometimes not. And by the way, you don’t have a hang-up. What you have is a complex psychosexual system whose mysteries are endlessly fascinating to explore.