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Words Matter–In Real Life and In Intimate Relationships

It was a day of playful distractions as I emailed back and forth with a former lover. It started with my comment that he rarely used endearments unless he had consumed a beer or two. Stone cold sober he started sending short messages the next morning—on his way to the airport at 5:45 am. Doll. Babe. Cutie Pie. Sugarplum.


I replied to each email with my own term until I hit a creative block and wrote “pukkie-bear”. Laughing, I broke down and googled Endearments for Men. It was a fun day with a light spontaneity that felt easy and sexy.

Words Matter--In Real Life and In Intimate Relationships

We forget the power of words in our day-to-day conversations.  Most of us don’t use words often enough to convey our desires or communicate fully with our partners. And when we fail to use our voices we shortchange ourselves and the people we are with—friend, family member, co-worker, boss, lover.

Recently I was grumbling about a romantic encounter that hadn’t gone the way I envisioned when the woman I was talking to pointed out that I had lost my voice. She was absolutely right. In that crucial moment I had chosen to keep quiet. It’s not easy to admit that here, where I write about sex and sexuality and often tout communication as a necessary tool for intimate relationships. I didn’t speak up about what I really needed and, as a result, the experience wasn’t as satisfying for me as it might have been.

There are several levels of communication you can employ during your intimate moments. (I love words and wordplay so the man who uses his words well already has an inside track!)

  • Sweet or silly words of endearment are fun for breaking the ice, sharing your affection in a light-hearted way. A smile and a ‘sweetie pie’ can convey warm and affection.
  • Hot and sexy words—some of us don’t like to use explicit language while others find it a huge turn-on. Do you want a partner to murmur sexy words to you as part of your intimate play? Does it add an erotic charge? Typically men are more comfortable with talking during sex than women are—but it’s important to test the waters carefully. You want to find the right tone. Men do seem to like it when you tell them what you like about their actions.
  • Serious communication–a must in any relationship, regardless of the level of connection. I have found that midlife women aren’t always comfortable expressing their sexual needs. It can feel awkward asking for what we want—particularly if we have the mindset that a ‘good’ lover should know. And surely after so many years of marriage our partners should have figured us out, right?

Our partners aren’t mind readers. And if you’re in a relationship with a traditional midlife or older man he may also feel some discomfort when it comes to talking about matters of intimacy. It’s not something we learned to do nor do we have role models for that kind of communication. And yet there is something incredibly sexy and powerful about stating what you need and want.

Most importantly, when you say what you’re expecting or hoping for you avoid misunderstandings by communicating clearly. You know your body, your desires, and your comfort level better than anybody. The burden is on us to state our needs. We forget that sometimes.

If giving voice to your intimate needs feels hard, then start small. Tell him/her why you liked the kiss you got earlier in the day. Talk about what you think would be fun to try—do it in a nonsexual setting so it feels less vulnerable. Ask for what you want. Directly.

“I would love it if you would rub my feet as we get into bed.”

“Can we spend some time ___________ tonight?  

Finding and using one’s voice is the ideal way to nurture and sustain your relationships—easier when things are smooth sailing, but vital to having the experiences you want to have. It requires a certain amount of trust in your partner and a willingness to be a little vulnerable. Suppose he says no, or ignores your wishes? It might hurt, but it’s a good judge of character and useful information. Chances are your partner will appreciate the trust you’ve placed in him or her and respond in kind. The possible benefit of giving voice to your aspirations, your needs, your comforts and discomforts far outweighs the possible negatives.

So, Sweet Cheeks, start practicing…





Walker Thornton

We are delighted to have Walker Thornton as our Women’s Sexual Health columnist. After working for over 10 years in the field of sexual violence against women, Walker is now enjoying a new career as a freelance writer, public speaker, and sex educator with an emphasis on midlife women. Her blog, was ranked #5 by in their top 100 Sex Blogging Superheroes of 2014. You can connect with her on Facebook and Twitter For questions about sexual health, write her at

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