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,

Whether you’re “doing it” or “hooking up,” it seems that the English language has many more slang terms than intimate phrases to ask a partner, or potential partner, if they’d like to have sex. "Sex" can be interpreted to mean different things for different people; similarly, what's intimate to one person may not necessarily be intimate to the next (read on for some different phrases you may try). Whatever you say, try to be clear. Asking permission and getting consent are critical components of this interaction, no matter how you approach your partner.

What’s said and how it’s said, may vary depending on if you’re with a casual or new partner or in an established 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 them, "I want to feel you." Some partners may make up their own words or language to communicate and ask for what they want. Others may learn a few phrases in various languages to spice up their sex life, turn each other on, or sound more exotic — just think of how many languages there are in this world — you may try a little French, Hindi, Japanese, Turkish, Portuguese, or some Spanish for starters!

No matter what language or phrase you use, it's key that you and your partner communicate specifically about what both of you want, and don't want, to do. If you aren't sure about whether or not there’s mutual consent, keep the following in mind:

  • Consent means two (or more) people mutually decide 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 they want to have sex and they say nothing, that isn't consent).
  • Consent must be given freely and not under pressure. If you convince someone to do something, they may not be freely consenting. Begging, cajoling, or manipulating to garner consent isn't considered freely-given consent.
  • Consent can be withdrawn at any time, even in the middle of a sexual encounter.
  • Consent to one sexual behavior does not imply consent to other types of activities.

Perhaps you might say to your partner or potential partner, "I would really love to _____ (for example, "kiss your ear, breast, thigh, etc.?"). 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. Further, it may prevent a non-consensual experience, as well as the possibility for disappointment if one partner is thinking of something different from the other.

Good luck!

Alice!

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