Dirty talk... not so much
March 22, 2013 6:29 AM   Subscribe

My new partner's dirty talk seems ripped from porn. How do I handle this?

I'm seeing a new gentleman, and he's 8 years younger than I am. (I'm a lady in my 30s.) When we've had make-out time together, he's said things that I think are *meant* to be sexy, but to me sound ripped from bad pornography. I can't take it seriously, and it also makes me a bit uncomfortable. How can I curb these sexytime moves that seem straight from pornography? What should I say that will be clear but not hurtful? We haven't done the deed yet, and I would like to pre-empt further porn-inspired moves, verbal or otherwise. He's a sweet guy, and I don't want to hurt his feelings. I just want our intimate time to feel authentic and genuine.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (30 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

I really don't see any way to address this aside from an honest conversation that isn't in the "heat of the moment". Some sort of genuine affirmation followed by an "I would like to talk about something" statement followed by "I" statements (" I'm uncomfortable when I hear {this} or {that}, can we change the way we interact/verbalize at that point in our activities?")

Bottom line here is that: 1. This is something he does and will continue to do, in which case you need to know that because it sounds like a deal breaker (better to know this and act on it now rather than later) or 2. He's open to change and will make that effort.

Keep in mind during this conversation he has neither the maturity nor the relationship experience you have, and, for a few years at least, this part isn't going to change.
posted by HuronBob at 6:42 AM on March 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Oh dear. Be gentle, because maybe he doesn't have enough real-life experience yet to get difference between grown-ups having sex because it's fun and porn.

I'd say be playful about it; tell him it sounds like something out of porn and then demonstrate what you like.
posted by mibo at 6:46 AM on March 22, 2013 [10 favorites]

Hmmm. I think it depends on detail - is he saying things that just seem foolish? Or are they more objectifying?

I've actually run into both situations - and in the case where the guy was using really stupid euphemisms for what he was doing and I was on the verge of bursting out laughing, I just stepped up my own talk, making a point of using my own preferred terms. In the case of something that felt objectifying, I told him right away that "yeah, that's....kind of killing my mood, babe." And he stopped.

In the latter case, we later had a talk about why I'd been uncomfortable ("I know that you didn't mean it like [foo], but [foo] is how it felt to me, because of [baz], so maybe just something to avoid?"). I stressed that I trusted he hadn't meant it like I heard it; it wasn't an accusation, it was more an informative "Hey maybe you didn't know how this actually sounds to me personally and I'm only telling you so now you're aware that's maybe that's not such a great idea when you're having sex with me". And that helped a lot.

In the former case, we later went on to have a good-natured teasing converation about it ("Dude, where'd you come up with 'love linguica' anyway?...") and that turned into a whole conversation about the silly names we'd each come up with in the past for things and it turned into a whole cutefest.

But yeah, say something. Couch it as more of "that doesn't work for me specifically" rather than "it is stupid for you to do that", because hell, there are people who do dig that.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:52 AM on March 22, 2013 [19 favorites]

I would frame it as something that you aren't into rather than something that is objectively bad. So bring it up in a casual non-sexual conversation and mention that instead of the sorts of things he is saying you would be more turned on from him saying different sort of things. Everyone is different and being honest about what you like is a normal healthy part of a relationship. If you unintentionally frame it in more of a "your dirty talk is bad and you should feel bad" sort of way then it's going to feel more like criticism to him than advice about what you like.
posted by burnmp3s at 6:53 AM on March 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Do not have any such conversation during the actual moment. Instead, nonchalantly, sometime during an easy afternoon.
posted by Kruger5 at 6:53 AM on March 22, 2013

Do you want there to be a lot of dirty talk, and you just want it to be better? Or would you rather not have any dirty talk? That makes a big difference. If it's the latter, just tell him you're not into the dirty talk. If it's the former, that's a more difficult discussion — I'm not sure you can make him completely change his approach to doing this.
posted by John Cohen at 6:54 AM on March 22, 2013

You might try pointing him in the direction that does work for you. Maybe "I feel kind of weird when you call me Tomato, because it reminds me of porn. I'd really like it if you called me Eggplant instead."
posted by bunderful at 7:10 AM on March 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

I've dealt with a difference in preferred words to use (and one person seriously disliking words that the other one uses) by saying, "What words do you like?" Not at the moment but in a late-night conversation on the phone or something. Then you can talk like you're just comparing notes. "'Tits?' I don't like that word so much. But I like... What about...? "

You could also watch porn together and discuss what you like about it (if anything) and what you don't. And in bed, lead by example.
posted by BibiRose at 7:13 AM on March 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

A lot of people are just awkward at dirty talk, especially with a new partner. There are only so creative variations of "I want to [verb] your [adjective] [body part]," and you have to say things that are neither cliché nor mood-killingly bizarre, and you want to be sure you're using sex words your partner finds arousing and not objectionable, and somehow you're supposed to psychically know what your partner wants to hear. Likely his desire for you is completely personal and deeply felt, and he just can't articulate it in the heat of the moment.

And it's very likely he'll be grateful to know what words (or lack thereof) turn you on, so he doesn't have to grasp for straws.

You'll need to tell him what you like and what you don't; I suggest emphasizing what you do like, and leading by example. When he does say something you like, respond immediately with "I like it when you tell me that" or "Hearing that makes me feel [insert your preferred sexy adjective]" or whatever. If he says something you're not into, call attention to it gently, like "I'm really [sexy adjective] for you right now, but I don't really like [icky sex word/phrase]."

This is a good thing to bring up when you're in that sort of low-key touching-each-other-but-not-yet-making-out moment.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:20 AM on March 22, 2013 [6 favorites]

Yeah it's pretty hard to know what someone is going to like and dislike without some positive guidance, verbal or otherwise. You should provide it. (Take some responsibility!) I don't think you should say "porn" four times when you take this up with him.
posted by grobstein at 7:28 AM on March 22, 2013

After dating a guy with a serious porn addiction that caused devastating blows to our sex life.. I too had the desire for an authentic and intimate sex life, and I never got it after years. Sigh. That is a low-grade misery I wouldn't wish on the worst of my enemies.

I would talk to him about this as if it was an isolated concern, but make sure it is not the symptom of a larger problem. Don't be overly accomodating of something that makes you uncomfortable, but give him a chance to adapt. If he can't or won't, then take it as a red flag and consider that this will be how he is and there may be other things he does that make you uncomfortable too. One thing I wish I had done was just get out of bed or stopped having sex when I felt uncomfortable.. I just went along with things that eventually made me stop wanting to have sex ever. So take it slow. Let him know it turns you off and how he responds to that will tell you everything.
posted by cakebatter at 8:09 AM on March 22, 2013 [5 favorites]

I think it's always completely fine for sex people (people who have sex together) to verbalize what they do or don't like, so I think you should tell him that you don't like the way he talks dirty to you.

However, it is never okay for one person to shame another for their behavior or preferences. You may associate his style of dirty talk with porn and that may be off putting for you, but some people like it that way. Hell, it's in porn because it is appealing sexually to some fairly sizable part of the population. It isn't your cup of tea and that's fine, but honestly I think it would be really mean for you to tell him that it's bad, or not intimate, or whatever. It's just not to your taste. It may be not to his taste to not engage in this kind of dirty talk. It may be a deal breaker. But neither one of you is going to be "right" or "wrong" if that's the case.
posted by telegraph at 8:17 AM on March 22, 2013 [12 favorites]

I completely agree with telegraph, this about you being turned off and uncomfortable.. Not him being bad. By making this about your feelings and not some larger moral debate, the talk will go a lot easier. But he may still need that stuff at which point, you are just not compatible and no one is going to have a good time.
posted by cakebatter at 8:25 AM on March 22, 2013

Yeah, you need to talk to him about whether his porn mouth is because that's part of the sexual experience for him, or if it is something he thinks he needs to do. Open a dialog with tact.

I mean for me "That's right you little [lady of purchasable favours] you like it!" is a mood killer not because my inner feminist pokes her head in- I feel compelled to ask- "Uh, so you want me to fake it and kick you out after unless you pay extra?"

Just phrase it in terms of being a buzz kill and give some constructive advice on how you'd rather hear him speak.
posted by Phalene at 8:33 AM on March 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

He does dirty talk.

You don't like his variety of dirty talk.

Every woman seems to have different preferences.

This is not about him mimicking porn, it's about his version not lining up to your expectations.

You have a responsibility to not ask him to guess/magically intuit your preferences.
posted by rr at 8:45 AM on March 22, 2013 [3 favorites]

When giving sex feedback, I'd recommend intentionally giving like a 3 to 1 ratio of positive to negative, and also showing that you'r open to creative problem solving on the topic. So saying something like,

"I love when you tell me how pretty I am and how much you love touching me. It makes me feel amazing, like a princess. I should tell you I get a little uncomfortable with the dirty whore talk - it's not really my thing, but I bet we can find more ways to talk that will be hot for both of us. My favorite is the stuff that feels really about what we're doing in the moment - not so much the fantasy talk. What else would you be into trying?"
posted by latkes at 8:58 AM on March 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

My wife and I have most of our sex-related conversations in email. This allows us to find the right time to have the conversation and to be thoughtful in what we say and how we respond to one another.

As to what specifically, to say, I think that something like "It makes me uncomfortable when you say [example here]. I really like having sex with you; would you mind not saying things like [example here]?"

Personally, I would respond very well to such a request.
posted by DWRoelands at 9:17 AM on March 22, 2013

I wouldn't overtly criticize or have an extended conversation about it. Would first try just not rewarding stuff that doesn't turn you on (i.e., avoid faking or 'playing along', even if you feel compelled to avoid hurting his feelings - be honest in your physical responses). That should slow the talk down, giving you a chance to lead by example (model), instead. And if that doesn't work, would use the softer, more playful approaches others have described.

He might just be trying too hard, if he's inexperienced, and may actually be grateful for the instruction, if it's delivered gently and with goodwill. Sounds like he's motivated!
posted by nelljie at 9:42 AM on March 22, 2013

This is not about him mimicking porn, it's about his version not lining up to your expectations.

Yeah, without examples, who's to say that it's not just that you're dirty-talk expectations don't line up? Most guys I've dated/slept with have been delighted by my vocal, dirty-talking self, but one dude accused me of "porno faking," and that was pretty uncool.

So, when you talk to him about it, don't say or imply that he's just imitating porn.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 9:52 AM on March 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

I gotta say, I'd just bring it up sort of casually in the moment instead of as a separate conversation. you might get into a situation where you are trying to recall specific examples,etc and that could get embarrassing. Seems less ego bruising to just bring it up when it happens instead of making it into a whole talk. Depending on your rapport, I could even see it being handled playfully, in a sexy way like he says something you're not into and you say, 'well if you want to do all that you're gonna have to call it my *word of choice*.'

I see it as him doing something to your body that feels weird to you. You'd probably say 'don't lick my armpits' at the time your pits are getting licked Rather than letting him do it and then Having a whole conversation at some later date about how you don't like having your armpits licked. Right?
posted by Katine at 10:43 AM on March 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Two ideas off the top of my head:

1. Laugh when he does that and maybe he'll get the message that you think his choice of words is funny rather than sexy. Then see if he tries something else instead.

2. Tell him in a nice way "Hey Dude, I think you need to cut back a bit on the porn watching and come up with your own sexy words".
posted by Dansaman at 11:02 AM on March 22, 2013

2. Tell him in a nice way "Hey Dude, I think you need to cut back a bit on the porn watching and come up with your own sexy words".

Yes, because the OP's dirty-talk preferences are formed in a vacuum and are so much more pure and better than her boyf's porno-talk.

Not a helpful way of framing the discussion. Just respond to what he's saying, specifically, and tell him what you like without being insulting. (See my previous comment).
posted by ablazingsaddle at 11:57 AM on March 22, 2013 [4 favorites]

I'm a woman and I've been told in a very outright fashion by men, "I'm uncomfortable with calling you ____ or ____. It feels too dirty/cheesy/porn-like to me." It may have stung a little, but I didn't cry over it. I think it's really weird how people are so terrified you're gonna emasculate or permanently traumatize this guy by telling him the truth about how you feel about porn lingo. Most men I've dated seemingly have no hesitations about telling me what they don't like; I grant you the same privileges.

By which I mean that saying, "when you call me ____ or ____, it feels like language from porn, and I'm not comfortable with that type of vibe," is probably going to be the best way to describe your problem, because it's how you feel. No use tiptoeing around it (the love of porn isn't sacred anyway, and women already tiptoe around sex way too much in fear they'll drive away men) and better to know now if it's going to be a big problem.
posted by stoneandstar at 12:45 PM on March 22, 2013 [4 favorites]

If you're able to have sex with this guy you should really be able to talk about sex with this guy, yeah? Try telling him that you're not really into dirty talk and suggest that he tone it down a little.
posted by Justinian at 1:22 PM on March 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

I'd go for the positive. You don't have to tell him it turns you off, just tell him what would turn you on *more*. We guys (at least the keepers) are suckers for that.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 3:07 PM on March 22, 2013

Lead with what you like. Positive reinforcement is the best way to train puppies and people. If he keeps up saying stuff you don't like, have a talk and again lead with "I like X more than Y."
posted by klangklangston at 4:27 PM on March 22, 2013

I've had a few lovers who thought that their brand of sex was the only brand of sex around. That includes talk that sounds straight out of a bad porn, and after a few times of them boring me to tears with it, I'd just stop for a second and say, "Yeah, don't talk like that" before continuing on. It's the same with anything else that's a turn off. If it's killing the mood, it's killing the mood. You don't have to fake anything, and there's no need for a long talk. He'll get the message. I mean, you don't have to be mean about it, just a short, "don't do that" is enough. It's never led to an argument in my experience, nor hurt feelings, it's just information he needs so you both can have a good time.
posted by patheral at 9:08 PM on March 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Do you watch Girls at all? (No, bear with me.) This exact situation came up a few weeks back, and the girl in question handled it by being blunt: "look, I didn't like that at all," "I can like you and not be a whore," etc. (Of course, the guy in question was an ass about it, but nevertheless, the message got through.)
posted by dekathelon at 9:41 PM on March 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Nthing that this calls for being straightforward and gentle and non-shaming (not because he's not being wrong, or whatever other big meta questions might be out there, but because being non-shaming will get you what you want.) And that the conversation needs to be held during a totally non-make-out time. In fact, it should be as unlike a make-out time as possible.

Honestly, you should probably be having semi-regular "straightforward relationship talk" moments anyway, outside of the making-out time, particularly given that you're obviously taking a slower and more deliberate path anyhow (as in, you're making out, and not actually having sex - this isn't a one-night stand or "sex only" relationship.)

Talking honestly and openly with intimate (or almost-intimate) partners can feel risky, and a lot of people are absolutely terrible at it, so don't feel bad about "not doing it right" or whatever. Best to just push forward with this conversation as explained in detail by previous commenters, and try to make such conversations a regular part of your communication with this partner (and any future ones.)

I absolutely guarantee you that there will be other risky-feeling unpleasant conversations in this or other relationships in the future, which call for this exact approach. Some of them will even be about things other than sex.

Larger discussion issue: Him being younger or porn-fixated isn't necessarily relevant here, in my opinion. Most people have a lot of different influences they've been exposed to, and chances are that he's had a modicum of experience where this behavior worked out well for him. If he were 17 I'd be more interested in discussing big "Where On Earth Is This Coming From" stuff, but someone in his mid-20s, who is basically functioning OK otherwise in a relationship with someone in her 30s, is probably not a person whose entire relationship paradigm is shaped around or created by cheap X-rated entertainment.

My biggest concern would be lack of communicating openly and clearly and supportively, not "he's broken" or "this is impossible to fix" or whatever. It seems like it's actually a pretty OK problem to have, in terms of mutual compatibility; it's also a very easy boundary to enforce and a behavior that's relatively easy to modify.
posted by SMPA at 12:33 PM on March 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

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