How to Initiate Sex with your Partner

Tom Bailey - 14 April 2020

Whether you’re in a long-term relationship, one that’s newer or more casual, initiating sex with confidence and grace can be nerve-wracking. If these words resonate, wrack your nerves no more! 

We’ve scoured the web for different interviews and studies about what creates sexual connection and anticipation between partners, and put together a handy guide to help you and your partner feel comfortable talking about and initiating sex.

Initiation vs. Invitation

Now, first things first: it would be irresponsible to cover the topic of initiating sex without first discussing consent. In the context of consent, it’s vital that you think of sexual initiation as an “invitation.” 

Framing sex as an invitation rather than an initiation is important because an invitation allows the other partner to say no, which is the cornerstone of a consensual sexual relationship. Though we’ll continue to use the word “initiate,” please understand that we use that language to describe the first stages of sex between two consenting adults.

Sometimes framing sex as an explicit question rather than implying it with your body language is frightening for people because it requires direct communication and brings up the potential for rejection. But, remember—you should not feel rejected every time your partner doesn't want to have sex at the same time as you! There might be a handful of other factors at play that have nothing to do with you. Maybe they’re tired after a long day, feeling body-conscious, or struggling with a stressful problem that’s dampened their libido. 

Also, let’s be real—it’s 2020, and if you feel uncomfortable asking your partner if they’re in the mood to share physical intimacy with you, your operating software needs an update. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Keep reading for a list of sexy and straightforward ways to tell your partner when you’re in the mood. 

Breaking Down Gender Roles

Another point we’d be remiss not to mention is the significance that gender roles play in initiating sex, especially between straight couples. Often, the burden falls on men to initiate sex, which is problematic because it reinforces cliched gender stereotypes that paint men as assertive and perpetually horny and women as having low sex-drives and seeking romance over physical intimacy.

These Mars and Venus-era pictures of men and women fail to consider the large spectrum of desires that individuals have when it comes to sex and how it’s initiated. As you continue reading, we hope that regardless of your relationship orientation, you’ll both try out the methods of communicating about and initiating sex that we’ve included below.

Appreciate Your Differences

As we alluded to above, everyone feels differently about sex, and how and when they want to have it. 

One of the main barriers to sexual initiation between couples is that many people assume that their partner shares their same turn-ons. This assumption is often incorrect and can lead to unnecessary rejection by a partner who might not want to have sex if it’s initiated in a particular moment or way that doesn’t feel sexy to them. 

If you want to initiate sex in a way that you know will turn your partner on, make time to sit down together and speak about what makes them feel sexy. You may be surprised to learn that your partner likes to feel dominated, or tickled, or loves having sex after breakfast. Once you start asking the right questions, you’ve taken an important step toward learning how to best initiate sex in your relationship… and sometimes the conversation itself is a catalyst for an explosive time in the bedroom!

Communication is Key

If you’ve been having difficulty initiating sex with your partner, you may be feeling frustrated, confused, or rejected, and be dying to ask them, “Are you even turned on by me?!” While tempting, there are other, more direct questions that will reveal more about your lover’s attitude toward sex and when they want to have it. 

So, how do you find out your lover’s initiation style? 

The Three Magic Questions

In studying the sexual initiation preferences of tens of thousands of people, Psychology Today found three common hurdles encountered by couples who got stuck on the way to paradise. To help couples communicate about their preferences for sexual initiation, they devised three questions to ask your partner:

Would you rather be asked (verbal) or touched (physical)? 

    Knowing your partner’s love language is important and there’s a real difference between those who prefer the physical touch and those who prefer talking. There is a clear distinction between talkers and touchers, and it will help you to know whether your partner wants a formal invitation to play or wants you to initiate sex with skin-to-skin contact.

    Would you rather be approached subtly or directly? 

      Is your partner the type who wants to be slowly eased into bed with flirtatious chatter? Or does your partner want you to approach them half-naked with an order to immediately report for bedroom duty? This is an important preference for many people, as some people find such directness too candid and overwhelming, and it can become a turn-off.

      Would you rather be surprised, or see it coming? 

        Some people are turned on by spontaneity, some by anticipation, some, by both! Speak with your partner about their preference, so that you can set expectations between the two of you. 

        This information can also help you plan something special. If, for example, you learn that your partner loves the anticipation of imagining your time together, you can send him a text in the morning to tell him everything you’ll do to him later that evening. When you finally see each other, you’ll know that he’s turned on and raring to go. 

        The Invitation

        Now that you know how and when your partner gets turned on, it’s much easier to take the first step of making that invitation. But how? What are some ways you can feel comfortable asking for what you want in a new relationship? How can you spice up the invitation if your partner is someone you’ve been with long-term, and you’re seeking to keep things fresh? 

        Keep reading for some tips on starting the conversation, as well as some of our favourite ways to heat things up and get you both in the mood to accept that invitation… wherever it may lead! 

        Start the Conversation

        If you’re in a new relationship and wondering how to even frame your invitation, we’re here to help. Whether you’re speaking with a friend with benefits, new hookup, or an app match, we’ve peeked a few different approaches to the conversation, and put together a list of prompts that can help you start talking about sex and asking for what you want. 

        This is also a good time to discuss sexual health, to make sure you’re both playing safe and on the same page. 

        • “Before we finally meet up in person I want to be clear: I’m looking for a casual partner for casual sex and hope you are, too. If that’s not what you’re looking for, I totally get it, but in that case, we should cancel our date.”
        • “I have really been looking forward to seeing you since our date last week. I hope this isn’t too forward, but clarity is important to me: in addition to dinner, I’d also love to bring you home with me on Friday night. Is that something that sounds fun to you?” 
        • “I’ve loved our end-of-night kisses, and have been daydreaming about taking things further. But first I want to take a quick temperature check to see if you’d be interested in  doing more than kissing.”
        • “I can’t stop thinking about having you in my sheets, but first I’d like to have a quick conversation about sexual health. Can we make time to talk on the phone before we next hang out?”
        • “I really enjoyed going down on you last weekend. If you’re around later, I’d love to get to know your body even better.”
        • “What are you doing later? Want to come over and play with my new sex toy that just arrived?”

        Now that you have some prompts to get the conversation started, how can you make the invitation once you’re finally in person, and feeling the rush and nerves of anticipation? 

        Get Personal

        Most people don’t want to initiate sex just because they want to have sex, but also because they want to feel sexy and desired by their lover. So be specific! What happened just now to get you in the mood? 

        Explain exactly what about your partner is turning you on at that moment. If he just cooked you a great dinner and you can’t stop thinking about sucking him under the kitchen table, say so! Tell him what you loved about the meal and how it’s making you feel. Nothing will make him hotter than knowing exactly what about him you find so sexy.

        Be Clear

        If you want to go down on your partner, if you want to have a quickie before work, if you want to try a new position or the position you tried last week—be clear! Telling your partner exactly what you want helps them turn on by imagining pleasing you in that way.

        Talk Dirty

        Talk dirty to each other! Maybe you’ve both been stressed from a long week at work. Why not send a sexy text during the day and tell your lover everything you can imagine doing to her when she gets home. Sticking with our tips above, keep personal and clear, and you’ll both spend all day fantasizing about the night to come (pun very intended).

        Make it Hands-On

        Sometimes you just need a helping hand, or two! Try making time to give your partner a long, slow tickle, or candle-lit massage. Set it to some groovy love tunes and let the touch and sound take you away!

        Visit a Sex Shop

        Ah, the ‘ole sex shop approach to initiation—one of our personal favourites. Mark your calendars, or surprise your partner with a mystery trip to a shop in town. Either way, the fantasy and anticipation inspired by a room full of vibes, cock rings, and whips are sure to get you both in the mood for something steamy.

        Get kinky

        Last but certainly not least, try revving your partner up by exploring your kinky sides. Ask your partner if they want to be blindfolded. Try reading an erotic novel together. Ask your partner what type of porn turns them on and watch it together. 

        To Finish

        Whatever approach you choose, have fun! Remember that physical intimacy with your partner should feel safe, sexy, and fun! Sure, sometimes partners can simply be misaligned at certain moments, but we feel confident that if you practice these tips, you’ll not only feel more reassured in your mutual attraction, but you’ll both be scrambling to RSVP “yes” to each other’s invitations for months to come!

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