6 Sex Initiation Styles, Explained By An Expert

Sex is a vital part of any romantic relationship — it deepens bonds and enhances a sense of intimacy between partners.

As a woman, saying what you want, how you want it, and when can come with its own set of communication hoops to jump through. And studies show that this could be by design.

According to a study by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, in more than 60% of couples, men initiated more often than women; in 30% of couples, initiation was equally divided between partners; and in those remaining, the women initiated more frequently.

With these studies showing a pattern of men initiating sex more frequently than their wives or girlfriends, it makes you wonder: how can women find their initiation style?

“If you are unsure how to initiate sex with your partner, the first step is to talk about it by creating an open sex-positive dialogue,” Dr. Jacqueline Sherman, a licensed psychologist and intimacy and relationship coach, tells xoNecole. “Talking about initiation styles opens the door for greater overall communication around sex in your relationship. It’s like the gateway to better sex!”

Hitting the right communication stride when talking to your partner about your sexual needs opens the floor for “additional intimacy-building conversations,” which Dr. Jacqueline says can include frequency of sex and types of touch that you do and don’t like. “These discussions can improve your sex life, and do wonders for your connection and relationship.”

At first try, the idea of being more forward and vocal about sex can feel foreign or even awkward, but using physical cues for initiation, similar to foreplay, can help you and your partner ease into the flow of intimacy.

​Dr. Jacqueline recommends these four methods to set the mood:

  1. Touch yourself (engage in self-pleasure) in front of your partner.
  2. With consent, touch your partner in an erotic way, creating sexual pleasure for them.
  3. Grab your partner’s hands and place them on your body, showing them what feels good to you sexually.
  4. Engage in a long, passionate kiss. In fact, for women, research shows that kissing during foreplay increases the likelihood of orgasm.

For every stage of your relationship, from a new boyfriend or girlfriend to navigating married life, understanding your and your partner’s initiation styles can create a more harmonious sex life. If you find you and your partner might have a mismatched style of initiation, be assured that it’s not only a normal experience but a fixable one as well.

“Once an individual understands that their partner may have a different initiation style, they can use that knowledge to create flexibility (regarding how sex is initiated) in the relationship,” she says. “Both partners should become aware of how they enjoy initiating and what their partner likes best. Once there is understanding that there is a discrepancy, the couple should agree to incorporate both unique initiation styles into their sex life.”

Each style highlights the unique ways individuals express desire and seek intimacy, and here’s how to find yours:

The Talker: 

“Some people love to give clear, verbal invitations for sex. This is their foreplay.”

The Toucher: 

“Others are turned off by words; they would rather be turned on with a prolonged kiss or graze of the skin. They prefer physical touch.”

The Subtle Partner: 

“These individuals enjoy flirting, caressing, and accidental touching.”

The Direct Partner: 

“Others prefer directly asking (want to have sex?). Sometimes a simple 'you in the mood for a quickie?' can go a long way.”

The Surprise Initiator: 

“Some people prefer spontaneity. They would prefer not having a heads up, and enjoy being caught off guard.”

The Prepared Initiator: 

“Some people want to know when to expect sex, so they can properly prepare for the initiation. They usually tend to be a planner.”

Since we’re all human, not every time you make a move on your partner will receive the green light, but remaining open and being comfortable with a “not right now” can soothe feelings of rejection and eliminate any guesswork.

“In most relationships, we initiate the way that we want our partner to initiate. Asking your partner the simple question… ‘What is your favorite way for me to initiate sex?’ can give you some tangible ideas and be a fun way to overcome awkwardness and deepen your dialogue around intimacy,” she says.

Whether you’re making out, hooking up, or making love, understanding and respecting your partner's preferences for initiating sex will leave you both satisfied and keep your sex life as it should be: extrahot.

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Featured image by Chad Baker/Jason Reed/Ryan McVay



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