How to Ask for What You Want in Bed (Without Feeling Awkward)
You're lying in bed next to someone and they roll over to ask you how your fuck was. "It was great" you lie, maybe giving them a kiss to make it seem more real. In reality, your rendezvous fell flat of your expectations.
Here's the thing: If you don't communicate your sexual wants to your partner (and you're lying about what is fulfilling) then they can't be expectations. They're just wishes.
We're rarely taught how to ask for what we want in bed. In movies, sex happens spontaneously — two people who are so turned on by each other's presence, they have firework-inducing orgasms without ever telling each other what they want. In porn, you usually hop right into the scene without seeing the conversation that happened ahead of time. In sex ed, you were probably taught how to use a condom and how to "just say no", but you probably weren't taught how to have a real conversation about sex.
So it makes sense that a lot of us are pretty bad at asking for what we want in the sack.
Advocating for yourself is something that takes practice, whether it's asking for a raise at work or teaching your partner how to help you reach an orgasm. You might know exactly what you want, but if you haven't practiced asking for it before, then you're probably not getting it.
So, here are six strategies that can help you ask for what you want in bed (without wanting to crawl under the covers and hide there forever).
1. Do a confidence audit
You might not feel confident talking about your desires in the bedroom, but that doesn't mean you're an unconfident person. You might have high levels of professional confidence (you kick ass at work and know it), high levels of self-confidence (you're pretty cool with who you are as a person and you know what your strengths and weaknesses are), or maybe you have high levels of relationship confidence (you know how to advocate for yourself in a variety of relationship types).
So, do a confidence audit. Think about the realms of your life where you feel truly confident. What helps you feel that way? Is it your skill level, your support system, the feedback you've received, or something else entirely? Take note — that's the context that helps you exist in a confident mindset. Now apply that same analysis to areas of your life where you feel unconfident. Why don't you feel confident? Do you have a helpful support system? Do you get regular feedback? Do you have a history of trauma that's related to this area?
Doing a confidence audit is basically like doing a SWOT analysis on yourself — it helps you understand where you're strong, where you can improve, and what your opportunities for growth are. Plus, knowing the things that help feed your confidence in one realm can help you nurture your confidence in another — like talking about what you want in bed.
2. Talk about sex with your friends
Sex talk isn't just for your sexual partners. If you're having a hard time talking to your partner about your sex life, your friends have probably experienced something similar. Even if they haven't, participating in more open, casual conversations about sex and sexual pleasure can be a lower-risk way (emotionally) of talking about what you're into.
It's like a practice ground for a more intense, private conversation with your partner. Just make sure you figure out how much you're comfortable sharing — especially with that one especially judgmental friend in the group.
If you don't have friends who you feel like you can talk about sex with, skim your mental inventory and see if there's anyone who you could. Maybe it's your doctor or therapist, or maybe it's your mom. The key is to create a space where you can talk about sex in a normalizing environment, rather than a stigmatizing one.
3. Start out of the bedroom
If you're someone who doesn't feel confident voicing your desires in the bedroom, then start with something basic: changing the setting. Talking about sex in the moment is important, but if you're talking big picture desires, boundaries, and curiosities, it's better to have that conversation with your clothes on.
Stripping down often makes us feel more vulnerable, and when we're feeling vulnerable, we're less likely to listen closely, advocate for our desires, and respond the way that we want to. Plus, talking about desire in the moment can lead to someone saying "yes" to something that they're actually uncertain about because they feel pressure to respond right then.
So, take the conversation out of the bedroom. Make a cup of tea or pour a glass of wine and plan a "sex talk" date with your partner(s). Make it cozy and sensual — you're designing the space to feel safe and open, just like the conversation itself.
4. Take a sex survey
Use a quiz or yes/no/maybe lists to create a playful atmosphere. Online tools like MojoUpgrade and We Should Try It have surveys where you can mark your sexual interests as yes, no, or maybe, and your partner can do the same. You do the quizzes separately and receive an email sharing the results of only the things you matched positively on.
Taking a desire and boundaries survey in this way can open up your imagination to the sexual possibilities. Plus, ensuring that your partner will only find out about the things you are into can give you an extra layer of emotional security.
Sit down together and talk through your results. What are you really excited about? What are you surprised by? Don't use your survey results as the end-all-be-all of your sex talk. Instead, use it as a very informative starting point.
5. Adopt a part-time sex persona
If you've ever done roleplay for work or school, you know that the roleplaying version of you is able to come up with entire scenarios that the regular you wouldn't have. Roleplaying can be a powerful tool — it reduces vulnerability, allows you to play, and can be really hot, all at the same time.
Using roleplay in the bedroom isn't just for acting out your sexy doctor fantasies. You can use light roleplay principles to step into a part of yourself that you might not be totally confident with on a day-to-day basis. Imagine what your dream sexual self would be. What would they say, do, wear?
Let the version of yourself be the one to participate in your sexual conversations. It's still you — just a version of you who is intentionally choosing to be the confident sexual self of your fantasies.
6. Write erotica
If speaking aloud isn't your thing, you're in luck. For many people, talking about your sexual fantasies and desires out loud is really scary. Your voice might shake, you might start sweating, and even an eye contact expert might find themselves looking at literally anything else.
If that's you, that's okay. Trying changing your medium to the written word, instead. Sit down with your partner and set a timer for 30 minutes. During that time, write down your sexual fantasies and desires as you'd want to play out. Write the things that turn you on. Write the things that get your heart pumping in a really good way. You can write it narratively, like paperback erotica, or you can write it as a letter to your partner — the choice is yours.
When the time is up, swap your papers and read what the other person has written. Putting pen to paper can feel more official, but it can also feel judgmental — you have time to figure out what you want to say and how you want to say it. Plus, your partner gets extra time to read it and figure out how they feel about it, without having to respond right in the moment.
There's no shame in asking for what you want in bed. Try out these strategies and make the sex of your dreams something that's actually achievable. You deserve it, babe.