Lately, a lot of people have been wondering: Does increasing (and easy) access to porn change our understanding of what sex should look, feel, and sound like? The New York Times argues that teenage boys, in particular, have a warped sense of sex thanks to pornography. But porn isn't the only medium to blame for this kind of confusion, and people were ignorant about sex long before the internet made X-rated films easy to access.
In fact, when it comes to the way sex sounds, sexologist Megan Stubbs, EdD, blames both porn and rom-coms for the "louder is hotter" mentality that many people seem to carry. "Often in TV shows and movies, [sex] is really loud like, 'Oh my god, oh, amazing. Oh, right there,' and sometimes overdone," she says. Some people really do sound like that while they're in the throes of passion (and power to them), but if you're the kind of person who tends to be quiet in bed or who can't moan when you're overwhelmed with pleasure, then you might get the idea that you're doing it wrong. But don't worry, as long as everything is happening between consenting adults, there is no "wrong" when it comes to sex.
"Do whatever feels right for you, and don't feel like you have to start moaning and talking dirty if that's not your nature," Dr. Stubbs says. There are plenty of other (very sexy) ways to show your partner that you're having a good time. Nonverbal cues, which your partner should already be paying attention to if they're following enthusiastic consent, can be just as powerful as a deep, throaty moan. That means things like arching your back up into your partner, looking into their eyes, grabbing their butt and pulling them into you if you're having penetrative sex, and other body responses, says Sadie Allison, PhD, AASECT-certified sexologist.
"Use your hands, use your legs, get into positions where you can push your breasts up against him or her so you're really expressing the closeness and how whatever you guys are doing together is making you feel," she says. You can also use your breath. Your breath is hot (literally) and breathing long and slow into your partner's ear while you're having sex is also hot (figuratively). "Panting and getting out of breath is a way to express yourself," Dr. Allison says. "And it's a super turn on to the other person, because it really sounds like you're into it."
But if your partner is worried that your lack of sound means you're not having a good time, Dr. Stubbs suggests good ol' communication. "A really great way to reassure them is to say, 'Hey last night I loved when you did X, Y, and Z,'" she says. Let your partner know that you're satisfied with your sex life. And remember that if you're enjoying sex, your body will let your partner know, even if your vocal chords can't.