1 in 5 People Have Ended Intercourse Because Their Partner’s ‘Sexy’ Talk Turned Them Off

Romantic Couple Lying Down On Bed At Home

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They’re the words that can send a thrill down your spine: “Talk dirty to me.” But sexy talk can come in many forms, and is highly subjective; some people like to be told what to do and when to do it, others get off on being verbally abused, while some simply enjoy a bit of light narration.

According to a new study by Superdrug Online Doctor consisting of 990 respondents from the United States and Europe, nearly 20 percent of people have brought sex to a stop because they were being turned off by their partners’ sexual talk. Of those people, 41 percent said that it made them feel uncomfortable.

While not directly connected in the survey, some potential reasons for why this dirty talk didn’t hit the spot (so to speak) did make themselves known. Thirty-five percent of people admitted to repeating dirty talk from a previous sexual encounter, while perhaps predictably, more than 60 percent of respondents said they’d be annoyed if their partner did this. And men are twice as likely as women to draw inspiration from pornography when talking dirty, with 45 percent saying they have done so.

Of course, you don’t have to start parroting porn stars to arouse your partner: For many, simply stating what you want to do to them (or what you want them to do to you) can be a powerful turn-on. “Respondents were quick to pay appreciation to times when a partner articulated a sexual request or desire, with more people reporting that these phrases were a turn-on than any other form of dirty talk,” the survey states.

Similarly, non-verbal cues play a big part in increasing each other’s mutual enjoyment in the bedroom: “Forty-four percent of respondents said moans turned them on the most during sex. Instead of complete silence, moaning produces a physical and tangible representation of pleasure and offers a sign to someone’s partner that the interaction is enjoyable.”

However, when it comes to outright sexual talk, things get more complicated—and naughty nicknames turned out to be the most contentious topic.

“A respectable fraction of respondents admitted to being turned on by derogatory pet names, although a larger proportion considered these names a deal-breaker in the bedroom,” the study says. “Pejorative terms and nicknames aren’t for everyone, while others use sexual talk to win back slurs and terms that can be used for empowerment.”

Knowing what to call your partner in bed, ranging from “baby” to “bad girl” to more extreme terms like “bitch,” will depend entirely on what the two of you are comfortable with. While using a derogatory nickname in a sexual context is the second most popular turn-on in the survey, it is also the number one turn-off. If you say it, and they’re not into it, the vibe is instantly dead.

Having a conversation about dirty talk beforehand can be a good way to set boundaries. And if talking about it ahead of the act feels distinctly unsexy, well, it’s still better than one partner crossing a line and ruining the moment.

Philip Ellis is a freelance writer and journalist from the United Kingdom covering pop culture, relationships and LGBTQ+ issues.