If you get your sex education from porn (which, in case no one ever told you, you shouldn’t), you might assume that loud, wild, passionate moans come naturally to everyone, especially women. But if you instead feel unsure of how to express yourself in bed, you’re far from unusual. Especially since many of us have our first sexual experiences masturbating, when we have no reason (and often don’t want) to make a peep, it can take effort to figure out how to communicate with a partner, and that may or may not involve moaning.
“Unlike in porn, sex does not always result in uncontrollably loud and powerful orgasms,” certified relationship expert and mental health specialist Adina Mahalli, MSW, tells Bustle. “Instead of focusing on what you should do, feel, or sound like, try letting go and living in the moment. The best way to express yourself in bed is to let things happen naturally. Having sex requires a significant degree of vulnerability, but if you become just a bit more vulnerable, you'll find that it transforms the experience. Once you lower your defenses, you'll see that your verbal and body language will start narrating your sexual experience in ways you've never imagined.”
If you find yourself tongue-tied in the bedroom, here are some ways you can try expressing yourself in bed.
1. Make Eye Contact
You can communicate just as much with your face as you can with your voice. Plus, lots of sex therapists say that looking into your partner’s eyes during sex makes the experience much more intense. Don’t worry about your facial expression — whatever your face naturally does is enough. “Eye contact communicates that you're paying attention, engaged, and relaxed,” sex therapist and coach Cyndi Darnell, tells Bustle.
2. Take Audible Breaths
If full-on sex noises don’t come easily to you, try this simple trick: take deep, full breaths and try to exaggerate the out-breath just enough to make a small sigh. This “has the added benefit of relaxing your body, too, by activating the vagus nerve and the parasympathetic nervous system, known to facilitate relaxation,” Darnell says.
3. Use Body Language
You’ll likely be moving your body in some way no matter what, but by being deliberate about it, you can communicate your excitement to your partner. Darnell recommends pressing yourself closer to your partner and moving your hips in an inviting manner.
“Touch like you mean it,” she says. “Hold and touch with a reassuring touch. Too light feels timid to some; too strong feels distracting. Find that sweet spot where the touch is secure and seductive.” Other ways to use body language include nodding, smiling, and tossing your head back, sexologist Dr. Jill McDevitt tells Bustle.
4. Make Sounds
Even if sounds don’t come naturally to you, you can experiment with different kinds. It’s OK if it doesn’t sound completely natural. Sighs, moans, groans, growls, grunts, whimpers, pants, and “mm”s all work. “Imagine the sounds you make to compliment someone's cooking,” Darnell advises. “Those similar sounds work during sex, too.”
5. Use Words
It’s also perfectly acceptable (hot, even!) to talk while you’re having sex. McDevitt recommends trying phrases like "I love this", "this feels so good,” and “you're amazing at ____.” For more advanced dirty talk, try these phrases.
If you’re stressed about how you are or aren’t communicating in bed, you can talk to your partner about what forms of communication they like. Or maybe, they’re OK without you saying anything at all — silent sex can be hot!