Dear Alice,

I would like to know intimate way of asking for sex, instead of saying, "let's make love." We don't seem to have many phrases in English.

Dear Reader,

It seems that the English language has many more slang terms than intimate phrases to ask for sex. "Sex" can also be interpreted to mean many different things. However, what's intimate to one person may not necessarily be intimate to the next. What is said and how it is said, may vary depending on if you are with a new partner or in a long-term relationship. Some people are turned on when asked, "do you want to do it?" or "do you want to get some nookie?" Others prefer phrases that they consider to be more romantic or sexy, such as asking their partner, "do you want to make love?" or telling him or her, "I want to feel you." Some couples make up their own language to communicate and ask for what they want. Other couples may learn a few phrases in various languages to spice up their sex life, turn one another on, or sound more exotic — just think of how many languages there are in this world — try a little French, Hindi, Japanese, Turkish, Portuguese, or some Spanish for starters.

Whatever you say, try to be clear. To avoid an uncomfortable situation, it's key that you and your partner communicate specifically about what both of you want, and don't want, to do. Asking permission and getting consent are a vital part of this interaction.

If you aren't sure about whether or not there is mutual consent, keep the following in mind:

  • Consent means two (or more) people deciding together to do the same thing, at the same time, in the same way, with each other.
  • No means no, maybe means no, and silence is not consent (if you ask someone if s/he wants to have sex and s/he says nothing, that is not consent).
  • Consent must be given freely and not under pressure. If you convince someone to do something, they may not be freely consenting. Asking and begging, cajoling, and/or manipulating are on the opposite end of the consent spectrum.
  • Consent can be withdrawn at any time.
  • Consent to one sexual behavior does not imply consent to other types of activities.

Perhaps you might say to your partner, "I would really love to _____ (for example, "kiss your ear, breast, thigh? whatever"). Do you want me to?" Or, "It would really turn me on to ______. Would you like to try it?" Being specific with your partner about what you want to do with one another can be erotic. It may also prevent a non-consensual experience, as well as the possibility for disappointment if one partner is thinking of something different from the other.


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