Men and women know what they want in bed. They know how much foreplay they like, the positions they’ve always dreamed of trying, the ways they want to be touched. But for some reason, vocalizing these desires isn’t easier said than done; in most cases it’s the opposite.

But it’s worth figuring out how to speak your mind. Emily deAyala, certified sex therapist and Houston Sex Therapy‘s president and clinical director provided a series of tips and pointers for talking to your girlfriend or wife about what she likes in bed, and, of course, how to communicate what you’ve been craving, too. We can bring you stories like 5 Sex Positions Women Secretly Crave and 10 Moves She’s Begging You to Make During Foreplay but the only reason we know the intel is because we asked the women. Do yourself a favor and get ready to talk.

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First and Foremost: Do it in person

“Don’t hide behind your phone,” deAyala urges. You need to get comfortable talking about sex—in person. If you’re gung-ho about expressing your fantasies, new sex positions, etc, but she’s not comfortable doing the same, you’re always going to have lopsided communication.

Soon enough the imbalance will tip too far in one direction and stress other areas of your relationship. Be confident and comfortable; she’s more apt to respond with the same energy when you both have the space to speak your minds. And if you’re the timid one in the relationship, take the first step of initiating the conversation. Oftentimes, that’s the most difficult part. From here you can feed off her energy and settle into explaining what you want. “Besides, talking over the phone hides body language… and sex is about both mind and body,” deAyala adds. But gauge her reaction; having the conversation in the midst of sex is only good in certain scenarios. More on this on the next slide.

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Wait for (and know) the right moment

We know. It probably feels like there’s never a “good” time: You don’t want to put her on the spot mid-romp, but it feels haphazard and out-of-the-blue to bring it up during the Knicks’ halftime show. We feel you 100%. And honestly, she’s probably thinking the same thing, which is why you need to be a grown up and initiate the conversation. Here’s how to know when and where is best:

“Start by making gentle requests while in the moment, deAyala says. “If you’d like to try a different position, don’t be afraid to ask while you’re in bed.” That way you can play off her cues (verbal and physical). “One thing I will say, though, is never be critical while in bed,” deAyala advises. In short, you’re most vulnerable when you’re naked, and can be more prone to your insecurities and sensitive to criticism. You don’t want her to take your suggestions as a slight against her abilities. “Make a gentle request or give feedback (“Can you move a little faster?” “Apply a little more pressure?” “Mind lying on your side?”), but anything more assertive should probably wait until later,” she adds.

For example, if you have a specific request that might throw her for a loop (like you want to watch porn together), it might be best to have those conversations outside the bedroom. Again, pay attention to her body language. If she clammed up or appeared uncomfortable when you tried to bring it up in bed, wait until you’re both fully clothed to talk about it again. Ask her what her reservations are, and gently tell her why you think trying that position or change-up would be fun for you both. It’s only when you’re fully open and comfortable with one another that you can really discover what you crave.

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Make each other feel secure

“Many women have insecurities about their bodies, not just in terms of how they look, but also how they may smell or taste,” deAyala says. You’ve probably felt the same at some point, too. If she communicates or indicates with her body language that she’s feeling insecure, reassure her that you love everything about her body. By letting each other know you want to enjoy every part—and we mean every part—of each other’s bodies, that’ll release a lot of tension and inhibitions. So long as you both feel confident in your own body and secure in your relationship, you’re on a good path.

Consider your phrasing

When you’re talking about trying something new in the bedroom (or outside; hey, to each his own), deAyala says: “The more specific, the better.” Don’t just say you want to try new positions. You definitely have a few in mind, so tell her in detail. And if you’d like more foreplay, be specific about the kind you’d enjoy. “Sometimes it’s useful to apply different strategies,” deAyala adds. “If she doesn’t pick up on a more subtle cue, try communicating what you would like playfully or seductively while in bed.” The same goes for when she’s trying to suggest something new. If she seems apprehensive, urging her with passion and intrigue—rather than being critical or shocked—will pave the way for future conversations to take place. Just imagine the type of sex you’ll have once the fear of being judged is blown away…

Have the conversation often

Sex is just like style. Though you’ll always have some favorite go-tos, your taste is going to change on a fairly regular basis. “Sexual compatibility is important in the long run,” deAyala says, so the sooner you have the conversation, the better. “Besides, if you’re a very sexually adventurous person, you’ll fare better, long-term, if you’re with someone who is willing to try new things, too.”

This is why the “sex talk” isn’t a one-time deal or discussion. The sex you enjoy in the beginning stages of the relationship is going to feel different two years down the line, and most definitely 10 years down the line. You need to revisit the topic of desires, fantasies, and curiosities often enough so you feel both your needs are being met as you evolve and grow in your relationship, she explains.