Pillow Talk, Dirty Talk, And Why They Sound So Good

I have been talking about how you lovers out there can keep your connection strong by cultivating a habit of sharing your feelings and details of your lives with one another, just as you do with friends. But there are ways we talk to our lovers that are definitely not how we talk to our friends. “Pillow talk” and “dirty talk” are two terms that get mentioned a lot, but what do they really mean, and how do we speak these love languages to each other?

With so many couples on different work schedules, added to the demands of family and keeping up with Netflix, time when both of you are lounging in the bedroom and available for pillow talk (and its faithful friend, sex) is increasingly limited. In the bedroom we are often at our most relaxed, when we feel safe, loved, and ourselves. In this space we are willing to reveal things about ourselves, share reflections on our day, and be warm and receptive to one another. This is what I think of as “pillow talk.” Snuggled up in each other’s arms, we may start to feel a current of electricity humming between us, and things get flirty. This is when pillow talk can turn to dirty talk, and foreplay begins.

My man thinks of pillow talk as post-coital confessions and intimate revelations, inspired by the flood of love chemicals like oxytocin released during orgasm. While pillow talk is sweet and affectionate, dirty talk is raw and impassioned— and can be as exciting as physical foreplay. He never talked dirty to a woman before me, and I love that he is learning to loosen his tongue to turn me on.

My friend M is in the midst of a mad sex tear with a new lover. They are insanely attracted to each other and have barely slept, worked, or left the house in the three weeks since they met. He has been shamed by previous lovers for his kinky inclinations, and is reluctant to talk dirty to her because he does not want to offend her. She is trying to show him in every way that she likes it spicy, and he is sometimes shocked by the things that she wants him to do. Because they rarely leave the bedroom, for now everything is either pillow talk or dirty talk between them. Through pillow talk, M has helped him get over his shame about his kinky ways, and to her delight, he is coming out of his shell and learning to say and do the things they both love.

My friend L is married to a man who absolutely loves to talk dirty. She is quite shy and reserved in this way, but likes it when he dons his dominant persona with theatrical flair and makes a show out of being a cruel sex master. He is not actually abusive or tyrannical, but the act excites him and he says all sorts of naughty things one would never expect from this laid back, well mannered dude. Dirty talk has allowed this couple to explore a fantasy world together without having to look outside their relationship.

A lot of dirty talk is borrowed from pornography, which sounds hot to some and silly to others. “Porn talk is lame,” says my friend K. He likes telling his lovers what he wants from them in no uncertain terms, whispered up close to their ear, “Like a secret.” He thinks that everyone should talk dirty, “but people are insecure, and maybe worse— lazy.” My friend H agrees; “Dirty talk can be great as long as it is authentic.” H says she has been “thinking about this a lot and wanting to get better at my dirty talk” but feels shy because her lover is quiet. “The cart is before the horse if people have a hard time expressing desire,” K says.

The folks in my mini-survey believe both pillow talk and dirty talk deepen intimacy. The point continues to be that communication between lovers is key, both in and out of the bedroom (the back porch, the back seat, the family restroom at the airport…). In short, everywhere.

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