I have wildly inappropriate conversations about sex all the time. I’ll sit in the Pit and talk about vaginal secretions. I don’t hesitate to mention penis size or foreplay when I’m waiting in line at Starbucks. I feel perfectly at home postulating that good kissing means good oral sex when I’m in the tunnels on my way to class.

Some people, though, are not as comfortable with the subject as I am. Even I sometimes have trouble broaching the subject when there’s a little more at stake – when, for instance, I’m actually having sex. It can be hard to tell someone that what they’re doing isn’t working, and it can be hard to suggest trying something new if you don’t know how they’re going to take the suggestion.

If you’ve ever had someone say “It’s just not going to work” when you’re face deep in his or her crotch or if you’ve eagerly suggested, say, a finger in the butt and had your partner recoil with an “Ew!” you know that it’s easy to get your feelings hurt when you bring up sex. It’s a sensitive subject, and most of us feel pretty strongly about either the sex we’re having, the people we’re having it with, or both.

There are some ways to open up a discussion, though, that can make it a lot easier on both parties.

If you want your lover to be able to make you feel good, it’s really important to be able to tell them what you want. Responding with physical cues like squeezing their hand (or other body parts) when something feels good or moving away if it doesn’t can help, but that only goes so far. Nothing beats verbal communication.

If you don’t like what your lover is doing to you, try giving him or her helpful suggestions instead of simply telling him or her that it’s not working. Phrase your desires positively. Saying “It really turns me on when you touch me gently” sounds a lot better than “Ow, that’s too rough, you’re hurting me.”

Before you even get into the act, describe what you want your lover to do to you. This sounds intimidating, but it’ll come off as dirty talk. Detailed sex talk is really hot, and you’ll get exactly what you want in the process. Whisper into your lover’s ear as you’re climbing into bed or even when you’re just sitting around in Danforth. A little suggestion can go a long way and can be very sexy.

If you want to try something new sexually, it’s probably best to bring it up when you’re not having sex. Mention it at dinner, or while you’re taking a break from studying together.

Give your lover some time to think about your idea before they have to physically react to it. Telling your sweetie that you want to be penetrated anally with a dildo while you have vaginal intercourse can lay on the pressure. It’s important to first make sure that your partner is comfortable.

Remember to respect each other’s boundaries and be open to suggestion. Even if something your lover suggests doesn’t do it for you and you don’t want to give it a go, try not to recoil in disgust or put them down.

If you want your lover to listen to your suggestions and treat your turn-ons with respect, do the same for him or her. People don’t want to feel like freaks or losers because of something that turns them on.

The most important thing to remember is that talking about sex will help everyone have good sex. You can’t expect your lover to read your mind. How will he or she know that you want to do 69 on the fifth floor of the library on top of a stack of books unless you say so? I don’t know if that’s your particular fantasy – how comfortable can a stack of books be? – but whatever it is that you want to try, bring it up and see what happens. You never know where your imaginations and your words can take you.

Waddill is members of the class of 2009.

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