More often than not, women don’t get their needs met. Even if we do finish, sex is more than just checking the orgasm box. Whether it’s a lack of communication on both ends or lack of sexual chemistry, there’s always room for improvement. So, we’ve hereby decided to say goodbye to mediocre sex and hello to having our voices heard. And what better way to get to the bottom of things than to speak to the woman who has dedicated the past 15 years of her life to leading the “pleasure revolution”? Byrdie tapped sex expert, podcast host, and the creator behind the best Instagram account literally ever, Emily Morse. We asked Morse all of our burning questions about how to confidently ask for what we want in the bedroom because well, no one else is going to do that for us.
Mastering the art of speaking up in the bedroom starts with understanding and knowing our own bodies. But how can we even begin to explore when the uncharted territory is riddled with shame and stigma? Speaking up and gasp asking for what we want sexually do not come without hurdles and more often than not, assumptions. Unfortunately, shame has been tightly weaved into the threads of sex and female pleasure.
So how do we begin to unpack and challenge that shame? Morse begs us to dig deeper and ask questions like, “where does my shame about sex and my body come from? Is it still true to me? Does it still serve me?” Spoiler alert: It definitely doesn’t. Open up the conversations and be that friend who talks about masturbating in the same breath as the season finale of a television show. Editor’s note: If you have experienced any sexual trauma, Morse recommends seeing a therapist that is professionally trained to help you.
The first way to build up confidence in the bedroom is to believe in what you’re asking for and the only way to do that is by knowing your body,” Morse notes. So, how do we get to know ourselves a little better? Our fave sex expert urges us to make an event out of it and to most definitely, “take the pressure off.” Get yourself in the mood, take a bath, turn on your favorite sex playlist (we know you have one). Maybe even start to admire yourself in the mirror.“The more you get familiar with your body the more you’ll actually know what to ask for,” Morse says. As for her final recommendation, use lube. Lubrication increases pleasure while decreasing irritation. And no, lube is not only useful for penetration. Using lubrication reduces friction all-around, therefore, enhancing pleasure… everywhere. Sounds like a win-win.
Communicate Your Needs
Ok, we’ve played around, we have a better idea of what we like, where do we go from here? According to Morse, here comes the conversation. First things first, if something is hurting you during sex, Morse implores us to, "speak up in the moment and let your partner know." Other than that, refrain from giving feedback until you’re outside of the bedroom. We get it, this can be deeply uncomfortable for some people and hey, it’s not your fault. Remember that shame we were talking about earlier? Couple that with the fact that typically when we give feedback, it’s negative, it’s no wonder that conversations about sex can make us and our partners feel unusually awkward.
Try approaching your partner when you’re in a relaxed and easy-going mood. In other words, do not attempt to have this convo while you’re hungry, tired, or in the middle of a contentious conversation. Make sure your tone is curious, as you want your partner to feel encouraged to participate. When in doubt, remember Morse's mantra: timing, turf, and tone. And if you’re trying to kindly break it to your partner that that one thing they do in bed just really doesn’t do it for you, cue the compliment sandwich. See below for the roadmap Morse has so kindly laid out for us.
Compliment #1: “You know [insert pet name here], lately I love that you’ve been doing X to me.”
Your feedback: “And through my own exploration, I realized I really love X.”
Compliment #2: “I want us to learn together and think doing X would be a great way for us both to have more pleasure.”
Mind-blowing, right? But what if it’s just a one-night stand and you don’t have the time to fully discuss the ins and outs of how your partner should properly use your vibrator? Well, you just found the exception to the no-sex talk in the bedroom rule. Morse suggests you playfully tell them what you want in the moment. Yes, you read that right, in the moment! Remember it’s never too soon to have conversations about your pleasure. Plus, if you’re choosing to have sex with this person, you should be having your needs met each and every time, period.
Now, it would be a disservice to us all if we concluded this article without sharing Morse’s go-to tips for sexting and Facetime sex because hey, not all of us get to have in-person sex all of the time. “I think sexting can be a great tool because you aren’t face-to-face and can say things that might be hard for you to say in the moment,” she tells us. As for how to craft those perfectly detailed sexts, build a scenario, reminisce on past sexual memories (that involve your partner, or don’t, we don’t judge), and fantasize about something in the future. And if you’re more into the visual aspects, hop on a planned Facetime call and “be the director of your own Facetime sex." Morse reminds us we are in control of it all; the angles they see, how we move our bodies, and what we choose to show. Make a night out of it that you and your partner will never forget.
There you have it: Get to know your body, talk to your partner, and remember, you may be a “slow cooker”—i.e. you may need time and patience, but most importantly, practice. That's all good!
Elise D. Sex and shame: the inhibition of female desires. J Am Psychoanal Assoc. 2008;56(1):73-98.
Sutton KS, Boyer SC, Goldfinger C, Ezer P, Pukall CF. To lube or not to lube: experiences and perceptions of lubricant use in women with and without dyspareunia. J Sex Med. 2012;9(1):240-250.
Everaerd W, Dekker J. A comparison of sex therapy and communication therapy: couples complaining of orgasmic dysfunction. J Sex Marital Ther. 1981;7(4):278-289.