5 Approaches to Initiating Sex

5 ways to initiating sex

Sex doesn’t just “happen”; it is set into motion by the partner who wants to have sex (the initiator) and then it is up to the other partner (the recipient) to accept (or reject) the invitation.

When you or your partner desire sex, one of you must request sexual engagement (unless you both end up wanting sex at roughly the same time—then it might feel like a spontaneous eruption of mutual desire). Think about the last couple of times you and your spouse made love: who was the initiator? Is it usually the same person, or do you both send out invitations for sex depending on circumstance?

There are many ways in which sex is initiated. Some approaches are more effective than others. Some seem to fall flat time and time again, while other attempts to engage sexually seem to aggravate rather than arouse. Let’s turn our attention to five ways in which couples initiate sex.

Initiating Sex: 5 Approaches to Engaging Your Partner Sexually

1) The Impersonal Request

The impersonal request for sex is devoid of affection (or almost any flair, for that matter) and it’s usually communicated in the same vein as asking, “What’s for dinner tonight?” or “Which shade of yellow should we paint the kitchen?’” Attempting to initiate sex in this way (“Hey, you want to have sex?”; “We should probably have sex soon, shouldn’t we?”) usually falls flat unless both parties are totally indifferent about whether or not sex occurs. When this type of impersonal or indifferent energy surrounds a couple, it’s as if they are having sex out of sheer boredom rather than a shared desire.

Such impersonal, lackadaisical attempts to have sex do little in the way of making each other feel sexually desired or wanted.

2) The Sexual Jokester

For some couples, a playful (almost mischievous) approach to initiating sex seems to work pretty well. The recipient of these sexual bids usually has a good appreciation for his/her partner’s sense of humor and playfulness. Overall the good-natured and lighthearted energy that this approach entails allows the couple to move into an erotic/sexual mode of relating.

However, this approach isn’t for everyone, and at times, it can easily cross the line into crudeness and insensitivity. As one wife exasperatedly exclaimed, “He laughs and gropes me and then expects me to be turned on? That doesn’t work for me, but he keeps doing it, and all that happens is that he pushes me further away!”

3) The Sexual Proposal

Here an agreement is made to schedule sex at some future date/time. In a previous blog post, I discussed the benefits of scheduling sex, especially for those couples who are overwhelmed by other priorities/demands, or for couples who have difficulty slowing down in order to create the space needed for sexual and emotional connection to occur.

It’s important to note that this approach is designed to create a protected space (both a mental and physical space) that will allow you and your partner to transition from the fast, distracting pace of your lives to the stillness needed to experience one another differently. When you’ve entered this space, it’s important to mentally shift and become fully present in the moment; full mental engagement and a heightened focus on the sexual pleasures you’re about to give and receive should now be the only priority.

4) Confusingly Vague

In these instances, one partner (in his or her mind) is actually making an attempt to invite physical intimacy while the other has no idea an attempt is even unfolding. In these instances, the approach may be so tentative or sluggish that it gets lost in translation. This may happen because the initiator of sex doesn’t want to come off as pushy; or an uncertainty may exist about the other’s sexual needs, thereby making the initiation of sex confusing or daunting. In these instances, reaching out to your partner sexually can feel like you are playing darts in the dark.

The vague-initiator of sex may also lack confidence in his own sexual prowess, or she may feel totally conflicted about or cut off from the motivating power of her own libido. As a result, sexual bids almost stall right out of the gate. This leads to frustration for both, and this pattern may add to increasing disconnection rather than bringing about the desired sexual and emotional intimacy.

5) The Seduction-Flirtation

Couples who use this approach realize that sexual readiness isn’t a given; rather, it’s a subjective experience that must be awakened and brought to life. These couples may intuitively realize that sexual desire exists along a continuum, like a dimmer switch, rather than a sexual on/off switch. Getting each other “in the mood” (and putting in the effort for this to occur) is the priority for these couples.

Inherent to the seduction-flirtation approach is the understanding that sexual desire can shift from non-existence to a subtle stirring to an increasingly intense sexual hunger (though a burning sexual desire isn’t required for fulfilling sex for many couples). Sexual seduction is unique to each couple and person—there is no one-size-fits-all formula. For some to get in the mood it’s as simple as holding and lovingly kissing each other; for others a more elaborate approach may be the thing that’s needed.

The above list is in no way exhaustive—there are many creative ways in which couples feed their sex lives and, unfortunately, there are probably just as many ways that fail to bring about the intimacy many couples desire. The goal is to assess whether your and your partner’s approach to initiating sex is working. Becoming attuned to each other’s sexual needs, as well as appreciating the varied ways in which these needs are awakened, is an important topic for communication.

Featured (top) image credit: “Edinburgh” by Andy Rennie 90 under CC BY-SA 2.0