In the wake of a recent-ish breakup, I reached out to a guy I used to hook up with, "Ted," to see what his availability was like for some no-strings sexual healing. I learned that he'd moved out of Boston earlier this year—bummer—but in the meantime, he was curious if I'd tell him what I was wearing… underneath my clothes.

Oh.

And thus began a renewed spark with a former flame that, so far, has allowed me to get my rocks off once or twice a week from afar without (yet) adding another notch to my bedpost, as well as renewed appreciation for having maintained a robust mobile phone plan.

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I mentioned my new hobby to a handful of girlfriends and was surprised to hear that not everyone shared—or had even tried—my affinity for dirty talk. One friend said she's always wanted to try it, but didn't know how to start; another mentioned the awkward silence that ensued after she asked a guy to spank her, and, still unspanked, she shelved the idea. I, on the other hand, began having phone sex my junior year of high school—a year before I lost my actual virginity—curled up in my twin bed with my parents' cordless phone nestled between my face and pillow while I breathlessly spoke of activities and bodily fluid I wouldn't try for years to come (no pun intended) with adolescent boys who, too, wouldn't experience a breast in their mouth or a mouth on their nether regions for the foreseeable future, either.

How I knew what to say back then remains somewhat of a mystery—likely, stemming partially from my fascination with a stack of Penthouse magazines I'd cruised through in middle school that a friend unearthed when her parents were away, as well as my late-90s tendency to cruise through AOL chat rooms and see what was cooking amongst the (supposedly) sexually-active set—but it's safe to say that dirty talk (and, to an intermittent extent, phone sex) has remained somewhat of a staple in my sexual wheelhouse for the past 16 years. It's a fun way to share fantasies without needing to have the, "So, can we sit down and tell each other over coffee what we want but are scared to ask for in bed?" talk, and can kick things up a notch if the sex is too vanilla. And, if I'm going to be honest here, it's kind of a power trip to know that the words coming out of your mouth are helping to get someone off.

But you don't need years of experience—or an AOL account—to master the art of dirty talk. Hell, you don't even need a bed, as evidenced by the times I've gotten the show on the road in the middle of Whole Foods, giving proverbial text message blow jobs in the whole body aisle while deciding between toothpastes, sort of like the way one dutifully bastes a turkey on Thanksgiving Day in preparation for the big reveal—or a warm body, as evidenced by my current romantic arrangement. What you do need, though, is a willingness to have fun—and to step way outside your comfort zone in the name of hotter sex.

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First things first: Do you actually want to do this?

Like any new activity, whether it's dropping F-bomb laced expletives to describe your lady parts or learning how to crochet, you should first ask yourself whether it's something you actually want to do, and isn't just something you're doing to please your partner. I'm all for taking one for the team—sometimes, love is more of a tradeoff than a battlefield—but if the idea of dirty talk skeeves you out or you prefer the silent treatment while getting your own rocks off, then you don't need me to tell you to pass.

Next: What's your fantasy?

Almost every piece of sex advice I've come across recommends using masturbation as a way to figure out what you like in bed. While that might be true in terms of how to actually achieve orgasm, a vibrator isn't going to help you describe what that orgasm feels like, unless you know of some magical place that sells unicorns and fairy dust.

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Here, you'll want to pay attention to what you turns you on—colors, shapes, textures, smells—which can happen just as easily at a museum as it can while watching porn (and if you're not willing to go there, Nerve has a whole archive of racy true-life stories available for your perusal). Listen to sexy music. Dance sexy in your bedroom. Explore the unexpected—within yourself and beyond—and keep an open mind. No one has to know, just yet, what's on it.

Get comfortable getting uncomfortable.

This sounds so cliché, but it's true. If you're a bit gun-shy about pushing verbal boundaries, maybe first try doing other things that scare or excite you, like wearing bright red lipstick (bonus points if you can make it through a night without it smearing on your teeth) or going commando under a dress. Or, do something non-sexual that's a bit frightening, like opening an overdue credit card bill that's been lurking at the back of your desk, or parallel parking in the midst of rush-hour traffic on a one-way street downtown while a group of tourists knocks on the window to see if you know where the closest Starbucks is. Navigating outside your comfort zone in conventional areas, at least for me, provides an extra boost of courage for exploring the unconventional.

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Walk, don't run, into dirty talk.

I once made the amateur mistake of unleashing, 0-to-60-MPH-style, a fresh batch of naughty musings onto the unsuspecting ears of a guy I'd just begun to date—which not only caught him off guard, but caused our foreplay session to screech to an abrupt halt.

"You want me to call you… what?" he said, while I cowered under a pillow, humiliated and certain that a scarlet 'S' (for slut, my wanton woman request) would burn through the down feathers. Eventually, he recovered from the shock, and we even went on to have a pretty satisfying relationship, but I learned my lesson in throwing out too much talk too soon.

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So, yes: it's wise to test the waters before you launch into full-blown filthmaster. Think of dirty talk as verbal foreplay, not unliked the increased groping and removal of clothes that eventually leads to getting it on. Phone sex, coincidentally, is a great way to try your hand at calling body parts words that are not anatomically correct, and acts as a buffer before you're ready to share those smut-laced sweet nothings face-to-face. (Other phone sex bonus points: you don't have to worry about shaving your legs, or showering for that matter.)

Practice makes perfect.

Assuming you're enjoying your new vocabulary, I'd suggest you keep it going, so that it starts to feel more like a natural transition and less like an awkward friend you brought to a house party out of obligation. I've used time spent in traffic perfecting my throaty whisper (thanks, Zipcar!), and will cop up to a few fake orgasms in the name of research. But then again—

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Have fun!

—talking dirty is kind of a game, not unlike roleplaying or crossword puzzles (and there I go, what, with the analogies again). It's an opportunity to flex some "Wouldn't it be interesting if we...:" muscles while maybe not acting out everything that comes to mind (or mouth), or maybe you do. When talking tits and ass gets stale, you stop; or, maybe you change it up a bit, moving on to the male member. If you say something regrettable—see, ahem, above—you slap a hand over your mouth for a moment, then you brush it off. And most importantly, you have fun with it, since sex, in all its weird, wonderful ways, is an opportunity to do just that: enjoy yourself, in whatever form it winds up taking.

Karyn Polewaczyk is a Boston-based lifestyle writer and communications consultant. Her work has appeared in or at Jezebel, xoJane, DailyWorth, LearnVest and Racked, among others. Follow her on Twitter at @KarynPolewaczyk.

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Image via Tara Jacoby, Photo via Shutterstock