Asking for things is easy, right? “I want a chocolate chip cookie, please.” “I’d like those shoes in a size seven.” “I’ll have another ginger Mai Tai.” If you think about it, we ask for (and receive) our chosen desires all day, every day. But asking for what you want in the bedroom can be tongue-tying, embarrassing, or out of your realm of experience. Women are often taught (or expected) to accept what’s offered between the sheets. But you don’t have to. Here’s some tips to take control and ask for what you want in bed.

Be Prepared.

There’s a time and a place for everything, so they say. Asking for a change in bed can be a bit tricky. You don’t want to imply that your sex life is not all that and a bag of dildos. You want to enhance what’s already there. So choose wisely. Don’t shout out in the throes of passion, “I didn’t get enough oral!” Don’t bark out while he’s doing you doggy-style, “Enough of this position, I want to ride you like a cowgirl!” Sit him down ahead of time, pour some bubbly, lower the lights, and tell him you have a secret. Tell him that you love your current bedroom games, but you want to add to the menu.

Be Bold.

Maybe you want more foreplay. (Who doesn’t want more foreplay?) Or perhaps you’ve always wanted to try bondage. (Who doesn’t want to try bondage?) Or maybe anal is on your mind. (Whose mind doesn’t roam to anal?) If you want to try something brand-new for the two of you, start with one concept and spell out all the details. Make the fantasy come to life with adjectives. “I want to feel your big, hard…hands…” (or whatever the body part). Forget clinical. Be specific and sexy with your desires. Explain how you want him to make you feel.

Be An Expert.

If what you want is something you’ve never done before, bone up on your research. There are guides to help you try almost anything. Do you want to be his oral authority? Violet Blue penned The Ultimate Guide to Fellatio. Could he be a bit more knowledgeable down there? She also wrote The Ultimate Guide to Cunnilingus. If you want to try anal, check out Tristan Taormino’s The Couple’s Guide to Anal Sex. Would you simply like to spend more time in a liplock? Violet Blue’s The Field Guide to Kissing promises hours of mouth-to-mouth relationship resuscitation. Never Have the Same Sex Twice and Never Say Never are two more guides (written by yours truly) to enhancing established couple-hood. These two are filled with erotic stories and snippets to help explain and illustrate.

Be Brave. (In Small Increments.)

You don’t have to crawl on your hands and knees into a dungeon on the first day. Once you’ve spelled out your desires, even small steps forward may bring you explosive results. If you’re interested in BDSM, try making love with your eyes closed, then work up to a blindfold. If you want to go further, have him hold your wrists down, then tie them with a scarf before you shop for handcuffs.

Be Curious.

Maybe you don’t know what you want. Explore the erotic avenues open to you by reading erotica. Bookshelves overflow with titles on almost every genre available—and some collections contain smorgasbords of sizzling stories from which to choose. Consider Sudden Sex, Got a Minute?, or Frenzy—all published by Cleis Press—if you’re looking for frisky ideas.

Be Ready to Hear What He Has to Say…

If you open this door, remember that the conversation flows two ways. Maybe he’s been harboring secret fantasies of his own. Perhaps he’s always wanted to get you in a pair of thigh-high vinyl boots. Or maybe talking dirty is the trick to unlocking his libido. Or possibly he wants to watch you perform an erotic strip tease. Once you share your desires, ask him how you can make his own delicious dreams come true. Creating a safe place to explore the erotic will undoubtedly strengthen the bond between the two of you (with or without handcuffs).