If you're anything like me, you can feel yourself turning red when you have to say anything remotely intimate. You cast your eyes down and mumble something that could sound like something dirty and hope that your partner doesn't ask you to say it again.
I even have trouble sexting with my significant other. Even something as simple as "I want you to make me moan" (there goes the blush).
I was always really worried when I started a new sexual relationship that my partner would have a proclivity for pillow talk. It wasn't until after I had—ahem—interacted with a few different people that I realized my problem wasn't necessarily that I was shy, or even made particularly uncomfortable by other people being vocal in the bedroom.
It was that to me, sharing my thoughts and preference made me vulnerable as a person; I was letting someone into a part of me that I felt was extremely private, more private than actually engaging in sex itself. I needed to practice speaking to people who I was comfortable with emotionally, not just sexually.
Once I realized that, I knew that the next part would be actually getting up the courage to say the things that were on my mind. So what did I do? I talked to my girlfriends. I have never had a problem talking to them about sex, and I knew that they would either provide some great insight, or share my fears and commiserate with me.
To my surprise, one of my friends was very blunt about it. "My boyfriend and I sext all the time," she said. I looked at her in what I know was disbelief. There was no way that this girl I had been friends with for years was regularly sexting.
"Here, read this. It's not that hard." She handed me her phone, and our other, overly bashful friend and I leaned over the screen to read what remains to this day some of the most salacious text messages I have ever seen. My friend let out a squeak of either surprise or fear. I read a few messages before quickly returning the phone, red to the roots of my hair.
"I'll never be able to say that over text, let alone in person," I exclaimed. My friend looked at me and asked a question that made me rethink my problem: didn't I talk to my partner about what I liked in bed? Not just whispered pillow talk, but just plain honest communication?
I didn't. I hadn't, ever. I was comfortable sharing with my girlfriends, but I wasn't sharing with the person who above all should know.
I vowed then and there that instead of worrying about sounding sexy or saying the wrong thing, I would just try to be honest.
I started small. During a particularly passionate make-out session, I told my partner that I liked it when he kissed my neck. His response was positive, and for the remainder of our relationship, he was always very attentive to that particular preference.
I was so proud of myself. To the pros or the super confident people out there it may not seem like much, but for me, it was a big step.
So for my next Herculean challenge, I knew that I had to speak up about something I did not like. I found this infinitely harder. I am a people-pleaser my nature, and a people-pleaser is not wont to disagree with others. But this was a different situation. I knew that in a healthy, consenting relationship I had to be able to talk about all of it.
So when I once again found myself in a position that I wanted to change, I spoke up. It was in a small, squeaky voice, but my partner instantly stopped and asked what I would prefer instead.
It was a huge moment for me. From then on, I stopped being shy about what I did or didn't want. When I had honest communication with my partner, the sex was better. And who doesn't want better sex?
I'm still not great at dirty talk or sexting (the last time I did it, I threw my phone away from after every message I sent, almost afraid to look at it again in case my S.O. thought I was weird or I was doing it wrong). But that doesn't bother me anymore. I've learned to partake in what is really important when it comes to my sexual relationships.