How to Initiate Sex With Your Partner

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Sex can be a pleasurable and wonderful experience to share with a partner.

Every moment can be fun and enjoyable, from foreplay and teasing to the exploration of physical touch and sensations. The delightful details that you are seeing, feeling, touching, and tasing in each moment can be special and memorable for days and weeks to come.

But the beginning of what may lead to sex can be a little daunting. This is because many people fear rejection or failure and may hesitate to initiate sex. You may worry about coming on too strong and throwing off the vibe, or saying or doing the wrong thing that would make things awkward and un-sexy. All too often, it may be tempting to leave the responsibility to a partner to take the first step towards sexual intimacy.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably curious about taking charge when it comes to getting intimate. To learn how, we’ll be deep-diving into the different ways to initiate sex.

Why Is It Important to Initiate Sex?

Sex can be much more than just a few minutes of physical interaction between partners. For people in relationships, this activity can boost emotional intimacy, and may even provide relief from daily stress. 

Individuals that engage in casual sex may also find their quality of life improved by engaging in sex. Interestingly, in the wake of COVID-19, people that remained sexually active during lockdown reported lower levels of depression and anxiety.

In addition to being beneficial for one's emotional and physical well-being, connected sex can provide a boost to your self-esteem. For partners with significant others that initiate sex, the knowledge that your lover finds you desirable, and wants to show you their appreciation in sensual and sexual ways can be incredibly affirming.

If you are not usually the one to initiate sex and begin to do so, this can be rejuvenating in the relationship. This effort can jump-start excitement between partners, especially in the wake of a dry spell.

How to Initiate Sex

Let's take a look at how you can initiate sex with your partner or partners.

Confirming Their Consent

The first thing to know about initiating sex or any kind of physical intimacy is consent. Partners being in agreement to engage sexually is an essential first step.

When it comes to sexual intimacy, assumptions are not always accurate. Partners may not be on the same page about their interest, readiness, or openness to sex. While you may be ready to go, your partner may be tired, worried about a looming deadline, or simply uninterested in sex at that point in time. 

It is necessary to get their opinion about things every step of the way. Outrightly asking if they are comfortable with the pace, or the act itself shouldn’t be shied away from. If your partner remains silent, appears to hesitate, or is unsure about intercourse in that moment, it is important to respect any boundaries that they have in place.

Remember, consent is sexy. The knowledge that you and your partner are on similar levels of desire should add extra heat in intimate moments. You might try using any of the following questions before or during sex:

  • Can I take off your shirt?
  • Can I touch you?
  • Can I kiss your [body part]?
  • How does this feel?
  • Do you want to take a shower with me?
  • Do you want to join me in the bedroom?
  • Do you want me to keep going?
  • Do you like it when I...?
  • What do you want me to do to you?
  • Where do you want me to touch you?

Be Vocal About Your Wants

You can try initiating sex by complimenting your partner—with a little added spice. Starting things off with compliments about how amazing they look in their new shirt, praise for their progress at the gym, or any other genuine compliment can be very stimulating, especially when paired with your vocalized desire.

Compliment your partner on something that you love about them and how that makes you feel. Tell them how good they look and how turned on you are, or how you love celebrating their successes and how attracted you are to them in those moments. Share your arousal, desire, and interest in them in that moment.

To take things up a notch, some dirty talk can be sprinkled into the mix. Give your partner some insight into your plans in the bedroom, and let them know how much they turn you on. Practice telling them what you want to do to them, how much you'd like to touch or taste them, and be specific about what you want and invite them to indulge with you.

It’s always a good time to remind your partner how much they mean to you. This can be shared any time—when initiating sex, during sex, and after sex.

Speak a Little Body Language

A great way to build up the heat and to communicate interest is to express your desire for your partner without words. Brushing against them in the hallway, taking a moment to run your fingers through their hair, or pulling them close for a nuzzle or hug, are all easy ways to let your partner know you’re available for and interested in physical intimacy. 

You can also initiate things slowly. Massaging your partner, kissing intimately, or hugging deeply are all inviting possibilities as you begin more sensual and sexual exploration.

Be Spontaneous

If your partner enjoys spontaneity, you can indulge their preferences. Because consent is always prioritized, communicating your desires may sometimes be made with an outright verbal statement. But only do so if your partner has previously shown that they enjoy spontaneous touch or has even stated that they enjoy it. If you find that your partner does not like this approach, or has changed their mind, honor their boundaries.

Alternately, physical moves like slowly unbuttoning their clothing while watching for their reaction and approval can also suffice.

It's important to notice non-verbal cues in your partner, such as tension vs. relaxation, a smile vs. a grimace, or a worried expression vs. a relaxed expression. Being attuned to their responses is crucial in making sure you are respecting their boundaries.

Impromptu sessions can be initiated and enjoyed in different locations at home, in the car, or other safe and private places. It can be a fun and exciting way to keep things steamy with your partner. 

Schedule Time for Sex

While spontaneity can be exciting, scheduling time for sex is something that plenty of couples to do make sure they prioritize physical intimacy with each other. You can create even more anticipation around having sex with your partner when you put it on the calendar and both look forward to that shared time together.

Use Playful Communication

You might try coming up with playful ways to signal to your partner your interest in and availability for sex. Maybe you wear a certain piece of jewelry that lets them know you're in the mood, or you put a note on their dresser or on the bed where they'll see it.

You can even have a designated fridge magnet that you put into position when you're wanting intimacy with your partner. Have fun and get creative!

Send a Spicy Text

If you’re just easing into the idea of initiating sex, a tame place to begin is in the chat box. You can begin with an innocent “can’t wait to see you tonight!” to give them something to look forward to after work.

If you’re feeling a little risqué, you can go into some detail about your plans for them later in the day.

Wherever your comfort levels lean towards, the important thing is to build excitement and desire with your partner.

Dress the Part

Words aren’t always necessary when sending signs that you are feeling sexy. Sometimes, you can let your outfit do the talking. Wearing lingerie, letting your partner know you are not wearing underwear, or wearing clothing that you feel attractive in are all ways to send suggestive messages for playtime later. 

You can also play dress up with your partner as a sexy, fun way to initiate sex.

Don't Have Unrealistic Expectations

It's important not to put pressure on yourself or on your partner when it comes to having sex. There will be times when one of you doesn't want to have sex and the other does. Be understanding and compassionate with each other, and respect each other's space. Try not to take it personally if your partner isn't the mood. There are other ways to build intimacy outside of sex that you can practice when sex isn't an option.

A Word From Verywell

Sex should be an enjoyable, freeing act between two consenting adults. It’s understandable to want to take pleasure in this activity, without always waiting for your partner to lead the way.

Initiating sex doesn’t have to be intimidating. By sharing your needs and ensuring your partner is in the same headspace, you can comfortably take charge of setting intimate moments up.

2 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. van Lankveld J, Jacobs N, Thewissen V, Dewitte M, Verboon P. The associations of intimacy and sexuality in daily life: Temporal dynamics and gender effects within romantic relationships. J Soc Pers Relat. 2018;35(4):557-576. doi:10.1177/0265407517743076

  2. Mollaioli D, Sansone A, Ciocca G, et al. Benefits of Sexual Activity on Psychological, Relational, and Sexual Health During the COVID-19 Breakout. J Sex Med. 2021;18(1):35-49. doi:10.1016/j.jsxm.2020.10.008

By Elizabeth Plumptre
Elizabeth is a freelance health and wellness writer. She helps brands craft factual, yet relatable content that resonates with diverse audiences.