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How to Initiate Sex With Your Partner Without Feeling Awkward

Asking for sex can feel daunting, so here are 4 ways to do it according to experts

It’s common for couples to have quieter periods of physical intimacy. The trouble is, it can feel awkward to initiate sex, especially when it’s been a while, or you’ve previously felt rejected by your partner. As time builds up, one or both of you may be wondering how to make the first move.

This is a very common problem for couples, and although initiating sex can feel awkward, it doesn’t have to be. Read on for advice from sex experts on how to feel confident to initiate sex with your partner.

Why do we find it awkward to initiate sex with a partner?

It’s important to understand that it’s normal to feel awkward when you initiate sex with a partner. In doing so you’re opening yourself up to feeling exposed, and rejection is something we all fear.

“Being intimate is about being vulnerable, showing our true selves,” says Emily Hirshman-Smith, counselor and psychotherapist. “If we’re able to be naked physically, we can also be naked emotionally. And often the latter is harder than the former, particularly at the beginning of a relationship.” 

Everyone wants to feel desired by their romantic partners, so it can be helpful to remember that you shouldn’t always assume rejection is about you

“If your partner says no, it might be more about their own state of mind, rather than any negative feelings towards you,” explains Hirsham-Smith.

“They could be stressed at work, tired, just had a row with a family member or any number of reasons. Above all, these reasons need to be respected.”

Every aspect of relationships — even sex — require open and honest communication to better understand each other’s needs. This is easier said than done, but it can help you take sexual rejection less personally — which makes initiating sex less daunting in the future.

Best tips on how to initiate sex 

Initiating sex doesn’t have to be awkward or scary, but it’s always helpful to have a game plan. Sharing your needs, building anticipation, and focusing on fun can help you take charge of sexy moments. 

If you’re wondering how to initiate sex, here are four tips from sex and relationship expert. 

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1. Visualize the situation positively

Knowing how to initiate sex with your partner could be all down to visualization. Imagining something in a positive light can take away your insecurities and remind you of your desire for each other.

“Picture yourselves being intimate, how you like being touched by them, or touching them, the last time you had fantastic sex with each other, where you were. Take yourself back there and replay it in your mind,” says Hirshman-Smith.

“Remember that feeling of being desired by your partner, of when you felt wanted by them, and use this memory as your booster to initiate sex.”

2. Talk openly about your sex life

Gaining confidence in initiating sex is rarely done in the bedroom. Communication is one of the most important things in any relationship, as it helps you feel connected. 

“Set up a time to chat about it outside sexy times. Share as vulnerably and openly as you can about why you feel awkward. Listen to what your partner says without judgment,” explains somatic sex therapist, Rebecca Lowrie

Try to be honest about what you’d like, and be open to what your partner wants, too. We all have different preferences, so a good idea is to ask your partner what gets them in the mood, and if they prefer to plan ahead or be more spontaneous.

Our assumptions of what our partner does and does not want aren’t always correct. In fact, research shows that many straight couples don’t know what works for their partner, and men, in particular, are often just plain wrong about their partner's interest in sex

If you’re not sure how to bring up the topic of sex, talking while walking dilutes the intensity and makes it easier to approach difficult topics, such as physical intimacy, with your partner.

⁠Talking about your sex life can be just as awkward as initiating sex, but Hirshman-Smith believes walking and talking is a great way to relieve any embarrassment.

“Often talking while walking dilutes the intensity, and makes it easier to approach difficult topics, such as sex, with your partner. Plus, being on neutral territory, outside your living environment, can promote a more open conversation. It still might feel awkward, to begin with, but the more you talk and cross that line, the better you will invariably feel.”

3. Focus on fun

Sex should always be fun, so if you’ve both started to take it too seriously, it’s time to reframe it and inject some fun into your sex life 

“Initiate sex by suggesting a bath or shower together, or even dancing together around the living room, perhaps starting with silly dancing, leading to slower, more intimate dancing,” suggests Hirshman-Smith, 

“You could also play a game together and have fun, or have a food fight and tease each other. Feeling good in each other's company will help you feel closer to each other and therefore more open to initiating sex.”

4. Build up anticipation

Putting pressure on you and your partner to perform in the bedroom is stressful — it's tough to go from the everyday realities to sexy talk. So aim to build up the anticipation throughout the day. That way, when you or your partner initiate sex later, it will feel like a natural next step.

“Tend to the flames of intimacy between you, whether you’re in a sexual moment or not,” says Lowrie. “Kiss, caress, hug, play, touch, and flirt often. Hold hands. Whisper in each other’s ears. Send them a love letter telling them what you’d like to do with them later.”

You could also try sexting throughout the day, suggests Hirshman-Smith. “It will help reignite some interplay and excitement which was likely more present in the early part of your relationship. Send flirty sexts — talk about what you'd like to do to your partner, or what you'd like them to do to you — this can go on for a few hours or days.”

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