Who should initiate sexual encounters? Well, everyone!
When you’re in a relationship, one of the biggest questions that comes up (or doesn’t come up) is, who should initiate sex. Being honest, the term ‘initiating sex’ can bring up flashes of overly horny guys pawing at their spouses, being turned away with a quiet, “Not tonight honey, I have a headache.”
Let’s change the narrative here, shall we? An invitation to anything sounds much more inviting than an initiation.
What’s important, always, is consent.
But who should be sending out the invitations? Whoever is in the mood! Whether it’s him or her or both, putting out the vibes should be done because you really want to have sex, not because you think you have to.
Desire isn’t gender based. It doesn’t matter what or who you identify as, if you’re in the mood, you’re in the mood. When you invite your partner to your personal pleasure party, instead of initiating, you’re giving them the room to opt out if they’re not in the mood, without feeling as if they’re already in the middle of the game. With an invitation, you’re checking in, instead of stating you’re definitely wanting something.
But I’ve Never Initiated/Invited Someone Before!
Doing anything for the first time is going to feel a little nerve-wracking. The same goes for inviting someone to have sex for the first time — whether that’s with a long-term partner or Tinder match. Best case scenario — be it pleasure, naked bodies, cuddles, or something else — is totally worth overcoming those feelings for.
Because inviting someone to have sex also means inviting the possibility that they don’t want to have sex, we recommend practicing the art of being rejected in the mirror. If someone says no or turns you down, thank them for sharing and respecting their own boundaries, and then move on. Don’t take it personally, it’s their choice. It’s helpful to remember that someone’s sexual rejection usually isn’t about you.
It’s often about their mood, body-esteem, lack of chemistry between both of you, or something else going on in their world. There is no one-size-fits-all script. Walking around the apartment in your négligée might help you get laid when your long-term, live-in partner is home. It obviously won’t be nearly as effective if the person you want to bone is a Tinder match who lives 300 miles away. Who you’re initiating sex with makes a difference. The same goes for where you are during said initiation.
Basic Do’s to Keep in Mind
Make it personal
As a general rule, the more personalized the come-on is, the better. Meaning: I’m not generally a horny meatball. I’m a horny meatball for the way your calves look in those heels or the way your biceps fill out that tee. People like feeling wanted.
Be clearer than clear
Even if you think you’re crystal-clear, you could probably be clearer. Especially if your partner is a good listener. If what you want is to go down on them, say that. If what you want is a quickie in the bathroom, say that. When you’re not in the mood for sex or thinking about having it, getting from there to having sex can feel like a far reach. Giving someone a specific sex scenario gives them more to go off. If it ends up happening, it also gives you exactly what you want.
Make it a daylong pursuit
Have a dirty dream about your FWB? Thinking about the match you’ve been chatting up in the shower? Remember the way your partner tastes on the way to work? Tell ’em. Sexting is the ultimate foreplay. Start with something flirty, and if they respond in kind, let the conversation build up over the course of the day. If, however, they shut the conversation down, don’t sweat it — go on with your day.
Learn their love language
This may be harder to implement if it’s a casual sex partner, but try tailoring your invitation to the way your partner receives love. If their love language is receiving gifts, you might try gifting them some sexy panties, a new box of condoms, or that sex toy you’ve been chatting about. If their love language is words of affirmation, go ahead and let them know how hot they sound when you kiss their neck, or how turned on you get watching them dance.
Consent is the only constant
No ifs, ands, or buts. Or butts. It’s one thing to kiss your partner — when kissing is a regular part of how you interact — in order to help them get in the mood. It’s quite another to randomly start kissing their bits and bobs without first asking permission. You want your sexual activity to be rooted in pleasure and comfort for everyone, right? Well that’s where enthusiastic consent comes in.
Without enthusiastic consent, it’s not sex. It’s sexual assault.
It’s helpful to remember that someone’s sexual rejection usually isn’t about you.
In casual hookups
Most casual hookups fall into one of two camps: folks you meet IRL and folks you meet online. Your approach to each is slightly different.
The public meet
Meet someone at the bowling alley, bar, or speakeasy you want to take home? Start with some genuine small talk before going straight to sex time. This will help you make sure you actually want to have sex with them (important!). If you’re still interested after a bit of chatting, go for honest and respectful. For example, “I know we don’t know each other, but can I ask you a personal question?” If the answer is yes, find out if they’re in a relationship and, if so, if they have any relationship agreements, such as monogamy.
Another option: “I think you’re really [insert true and specific adjective here] and, if you’re interested, I’d love to kiss you and maybe see where that goes. If not that’s completely fine.”
Swipers swipe for a myriad of reasons. If yours is because you want to have sex, you need to be clear.
Some lines to try with an online buddy:
“I want to drop all pretenses and be clear: in addition to [date activity here], I would also like to [sex act here] on Thursday. Are you up for that?”
“What does your schedule look like next week? I’d love to finally [insert sex act here].”
“Before we meet up in person I want to be up-front: I’m looking for casual sex partners and I’m hoping that’s what we’ll find in each other. If that’s not what you’re looking for, I totally understand. But I think it’s best if we cancel our date if we’re not on the same page.”
In newly formed relationships
There are different types of newly formed relationships. Here’s how to navigate some of them.
Someone you’ve hooked up with a few times
“U up?” has, admittedly, become ubiquitous with “It’s after midnight. Want to come over and bang-a-lang — casually, obviously.”
There are way more creative and sexy ways to initiate a hookup with your sex mate. For example:
“I really enjoyed going down on you last weekend. If you’re around later I’d love a repeat.”
“Thinking about the way you looked in my sheets and would love to have you there against later tonight if you’re interested.”
“What’re you up to tonight? Might I propose that we meet up and play with my new vibrator together.”
Someone you’ve been ‘seeing’ but haven’t had sex with yet
So you’ve gone on a handful of dates. Maybe you’ve smooched. But you haven’t had S-E-X.
Your move: Don’t make one! At least not before talking about whether you both want to have sex.
You don’t want to automatically assume that they’ll want to have sex just because you’ve been going on dates and kissing.
Some ways to bring it up:
“I’ve been enjoying getting to know you and kissing you. I just wanted to do a temperature check and see if you might be interested in doing more than kissing.”
“I’m really enjoying getting to know you and, if you feel the same way, I’d love to take things further. How would you feel about making out naked and seeing where things go?”
You might even use this as an opportunity to talk about current STI status.
“I’ve been enjoying being physical with you and would like to have sex. If that’s something you’d also like, I’d love for both of us to get screened for STIs.”
Someone who you’ve been dating and having sex with… but it’s new
Black coffee or with cream. Morning or night sex. The beginning of relationships is filled with all sorts of learning curves. How they like to be invited to have sex is one of those things.
By now, you’re at a good point in your relationship to ask your partner the following questions:
Would you prefer I initiate sex verbally (“Do you want to bang?”) or through erotic touches, like kissing or extended hugging?
Would you rather be asked directly (“Are you in the mood for a quickie?”) or through more subtle means (through seduction and flirting)?
In established relationships
So, you’re past the getting to know you phase and fully aware of how your partner likes to commence sexy time. Have at it!
And if you’re still not sure, ask, it’s never too late.
In long-term relationships
Maybe you’ve been married for 20 years, primary partners for 15, or are 3 years into living together. Whatever the reason, if you’re feeling like sexy time also starts the exact same way (*yawn*), here are some tips to initiate sex in new ways.
Make a Yes, No, Maybe list
Fill out a yes/no/maybe list one afternoon. Then, the next time you’re in the mood you can say, “How would you feel about revisiting that list?”
Go to a sex shop
Online ones count, too!
Take turns adding pleasure products to the cart. This will get you talking about sex in a new way, which is step #1 in having sex (and having sex in new ways). Trust, once you get home or that package arrives, chances are you won’t have to do much initiating. You’ll both be eager to try out your new goodies.
Time to sync up those Google calendars and find a night (or morning!) when you have time for a standing (or lying, wink) sex date. Use the time to give each other massages, watch porn together, make out, take a bath together, or masturbate side-by-side. If no sex happens, no biggie. The goal is to initiate sexual intimacy, not necessarily have sex.
Let’s say you have a weekly date night. Try alternating between who initiates sex, that way nobody feels it’s their job.
Practice makes perfect
It’s cliché, but it’s true!
The more you put yourself out there, the easier it becomes to ask for what you want, and the easier it becomes to not take it personally if the person(s) isn’t interested.
Demeter Delune is a writer forged in the fires of desire. If you love reading her naughty tales of love and lust, sign up for her email list.