Whether you aren’t having success with your partner or are just getting back into dating, it can be hard to know when and how to initiate sex. Brianna Rader, creator of the Juicebox App says “Sex with another person is complicated. It requires so many pieces to be successful: consent, confidence, vulnerability, coordination, and direction.”
Sexual encounters are a two way street that require empathy, consent, and communication. While you don’t need to have sex to have a great date or physical encounter, to initiate sex successfully the first question to ask is: what are you looking for and how might this line up with what the person wants?
We’ll outline some tips for initiating sex focused more on dating, though some tips may be useful for long-term couples as well. For advice about how to initiate sex in a relationship, check out our article on Spontaneous Sex.
1. Be Clear About Your Intentions
If you’re just looking to hookup, be clear about this from the start so you can find someone with a similar goal. If you are online dating, you can start by making this clear in your bio. You could try: “I’m Matt and enjoy hiking, cooking, and mountain biking. I’m looking for something casual but open to seeing where things go.” Remember, the other person may be looking for something casual, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want to get to know you as a person. Maybe the perfect day for for them would be mountain biking and then hooking up later on.
If you’re asking someone out in person, be clear about your intentions and don’t overthink things. Say you’re at a bar, if you see someone you like try talking to them within a minute. Wait too long and you could get caught up in your head. Initiating early on also shows confidence, which can be incredible sexy.
2. When Flirting, Be Confident
Flirting plays a big part in attraction; not only does it help build a rapport with your potential partner, but it can help with arousal when it comes time to initiate sex. Not everyone is aroused in the same way.
Learning about the five love languages can help you find different ways to approach flirting. For some, physical touch is necessary. For others, acts of kindness are the best way to get on their good side. Try different things to find what works for them. If you’re not sure how receptive they are, a simple statement like, “Hey, I’m enjoying this date/flirting with you” makes your feelings clear and gives you a chance to gauge their reaction. Are they smiling? Do they seem to be enjoying themselves? Try touching their shoulder/arm. Do they seem receptive to this? Do they touch you back?
It’s also important to flirt without an agenda. Its okay to want sex, but don’t expect it just because someone is flirting back; just flirt for the fun of it!
3. Start the Consent Conversation Early
When the time comes to get physical, never be afraid to ask if you aren’t sure about boundaries. Some people are afraid that asking “can I kiss you?” would ruin the mood, but you’ll get a clear answer and open a dialogue of what you want/don’t want.
The first step to getting consent is understanding what it is and what it looks like. Consent is enthusiastic agreement to a specific activity, whether it be physical or sexual, and is given without coercion.
Brianna says “Real consent goes beyond asking if you want to have sex. Instead, you should be talking throughout the process to understand not only what your partner is okay with, but what they are enjoying. By getting consent throughout you are not only getting assurance they’re enjoying the progression, but also getting feedback on what does and doesn’t work for them.”
There are plenty of resources to learn about consent if you aren’t sure, but it usually starts with honest and open communication about your boundaries and desires.
4. Keep Talking!
Even if your partner consented to sex early on, it doesn’t end there – there’s still a lot to talk about! Sex may not be penis-in-vagina intercourse, so try opening up the definition. Defining sex more broadly allows you and your partner to focus on acts you both enjoy and can lead to a more adventurous hookup.
Talk to your partner throughout, letting them know what you do and don’t like and be responsive to their needs. When you start touching each other, ask a lot of questions such as “does this feel good to you?” and “what do you enjoy?” For more on talking during sex, check out our blog post about Dirty Talk. Feel free to share what feels good to you and what you enjoy. This removes the guesswork and increases the likelihood of a successful encounter. If the sex is good the first time, who knows, maybe this will become a regular event!
Sex is never simple, but being clear and communicating regularly will help you figure out if you are both on the same page quickly and progress in a way that works for both of you. Always remember to be respectful throughout and try to make the experience fun for you and your partner. If you feel like things aren’t working for you, or you have specific concerns you can get expert advice from dating coaches and sex counselors on the Juicebox App.