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How to Initiate Sex with Your Partner


couple learning how to initiate sex together

Initiating sex can feel tricky for many couples. It can be difficult to know the right time, place, and best way to approach your partner to initiate sex, especially if you’re unsure of your partner’s desires or boundaries. This can be particularly challenging for long term partners where the initial spark may have faded or when one partner has a higher desire for sex than the other.


It’s important to remember that everyone’s sexual desires are different and that it’s normal for these desires to fluctuate over time, especially for those in long term relationships. Desire discrepancy is common in relationships. Having a healthy and active sex life is important for overall sexual health and emotional intimacy. With a little bit of planning i.e scheduling sex, and some effective communication, you can initiate sex with your partner in a way that is robust, confident, and pleasurable for both of you.


Why It Can Be Difficult to Initiate Sex?


Initiating sex with a partner can be difficult for several reasons. It may be due to feelings of insecurity, lack of confidence, or fear of rejection. It could also be due to communication issues, lack of trust, unresolved conflicts, or resentments in the relationship. Sometimes such resentments are compounded based on unaddressed issues in other areas, such as the unbalanced division of domestic labor, emotional and financial labor of the relationship.


Additionally, it could be due to physical or emotional barriers such as fatigue, stress, trauma, simply not being in the mood for sex, or medication side effects. Overall, verbally or non verbally offering invitations to sex requires vulnerability and open communication, and if these factors are not present in the relationship, it can make initiating sex a challenging task.


How to Initiate Sex: 5 Steps to Consider


Communicate openly and honestly with your partner about your sexual desires and fantasies


It’s important to remember that communication is key to a healthy and fulfilling sex life. By being open and honest with your partner, you can create a deeper understanding and connection. Work on co creating experiences that are rich in pleasure. It’s important to initiate sex while being mindful of your partner’s boundaries and desires and to not feel offended if they’re not ready to answer certain questions at the moment.


Remember that building trust and intimacy takes time, and the most important thing is to keep the communication lines open. Listen with an intention of understanding rather than getting defensive.


Create a comfortable and intimate atmosphere


Explore with your partner the types of contexts you each find sexy and/or romantic. What cultivates desire for you and your partner? Creating a relaxed and inviting atmosphere can help set the mood for intimacy. This can include things like dimming the lights, playing soft music, putting on new sheets, dress the part (put on a sexy lingerie or cologne you know your partner loves), lighting candles, or even setting the room temperature to a comfortable level. These small touches can help create a sense of relaxation and intimacy.


Show physical affection throughout the day


Think of it this way: “Foreplay starts the minute our last sexual experience is over,” says Modern Intimacy founder, Dr. Kate Balestrieri. Expressing physical affection such as holding hands, cuddling, kissing, complimenting your partner, or giving them a foot rub helps to create a sense of closeness and intimacy; that’s of course if your partner is open to that. Something to consider, if you only show physical and/or emotional interest in your partner when you want to initiate sex, they may start to feel sexually objectified and avoid affectionate touch altogether. Affectionate touch can help build a deeper connection and make both partners feel desired and loved.


Be aware of your own and your partner’s emotional and physical needs


Each person’s needs are unique, and it’s important to be aware of what your partner is comfortable with, and what might be stressful for them. Being mindful of the physical and emotional needs of each person can help create a sense of trust and intimacy which can lead to a more satisfying and fulfilling sex life for both partners. Pay attention to verbal and non verbal cues such as body language. Remember that everyone has different needs and desires. What are your sexual brakes and accelerators?


When one partner tries to initiate sex and the other partner is not quite in the mood, sometimes providing some reassurance or explanation can be a loving safeguard against feelings of rejection.


Expand your definition of sex and intimacy


How do you and your partner define sex and intimacy? Does it have to include penetrative sex? Trying different types of intimacy beyond genital sex and intercourse can help to create more fulfilling and satisfying sexual experiences for both partners by removing expectations and pressure away from genitals and orgasms. Experiment with different types of touch to see what feels good for both of you and discover each other’s secondary erogenous zones.


For example, you can take turns focusing on each other’s bodies, without any sexual goals in mind. One partner touches and explores the other’s body for several minutes, while the other partner focuses on the sensation and communicates any discomfort or preferences.


Or you can participate in mutual masturbation, oral sex, using sex toys and other forms of sexual play that can be just as satisfying and enjoyable. Focus on pleasure and connection, not just orgasms. While orgasms are great, they’re not the only measure of a satisfying sexual experience. Sex doesn’t have to be limited to physical touch. Try exploring different types of intimacy such as emotional, mental, or spiritual intimacy.


Initiating Sex and Consent


Consent is a crucial aspect when you signal to your partner that you’d like to engage in sexual activity. Both partners must be willing and comfortable before engaging in any form of sex. Communication is key to ensuring that both partners are on equal terms and comfortable with the sexual encounter.


Consent involves several key elements for a positive sexual encounter. Enthusiastic consent is when both partners are fully excited to participate. Consent must also be continuous, clear, informed, mutual, non-coercive, respectful, reversible, and freely given.


Initiating sex can be a sensitive subject, but with open communication and understanding, it can become a natural and enjoyable part of your sex life. Remember to always prioritize consent and to make sure that both partners are on the same page. This can help you to build a stronger, more satisfying, and robust sex life. Lastly, remember that a healthy sexual relationship is not just about the number of sexual acts, but also about the quality of intimacy and connection.


A sex therapist can also help couples who are struggling with mismatched libidos. They can provide guidance on how to manage the differences in desire and find ways to fulfill both partners’ needs in a healthy and positive way.

Modern Intimacy is a group therapy practice, founded by renowned Psychologist and Sex Therapist, Dr. Kate Balestrieri. This inclusive blog is designed to provide a wealth of information and resources for mental health, relationships, and sexuality. Subscribe today to get the latest information from our expert contributors from all around the world.


Author Bio

Elena Behar, LMFT earned her Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology from National University (NU) with a specialization in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT). Elena is very passionate about working with individuals and couples who are looking to heal and grow, build a sense of meaning and purpose in their lives and reintegrate with their true selves.



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