At Coconu, we celebrate the beauty of intimacy and the power of connection. Yet, sometimes you might find yourself in a situation where you feel disconnected from your partner, especially if there's a mismatch in sexual desires or timing. One crucial, yet often overlooked, aspect contributing to stalled sexual intimacy is sexual initiation—how sex begins.

When we initiate sex we do so not just to have sex, but we also want our partner to want to have sex, and at the same time as we do. Petra Zebroff, Ph.D. is a sex therapist who discusses this in her article in Psychology Today, “There May Be a Better Way to Initiate Sex with Your Partner. We LOVED her thoughts about finding out the best way to initiate sex, let’s explore further…

Zebroff says that if you want your partner to want to have sex, you need to understand what ignites their erotic flame. It may not be that they don’t want to have sex, they just might not like the way it’s initiated or when it’s initiated. Through her research, she has found two main themes that stand out:  

  • many people are unhappy with the way their partner initiates sex 
  • everyone is different when it comes to how they want sex to start

We often assume that we know what our partner likes. Or we assume that what works for us must work for our partner. This turns out to be a big mistake because if we don’t know what works for our partner, we may be getting rejected unnecessarily. Through her research she found 3 places where couples get stuck and questions that can help avoid the sticking places. She suggests asking these questions: 

Ask: “Would you rather be…

  • ...asked (verbal) or touched (physical)? There is a clear distinction between talkers and touchers. Some people love to have clear, verbal invitations to sex; for them, talking is a form of foreplay. Others are turned off by the use of words; they would rather be turned on with a graze of their skin or a prolonged hug or kiss.
  • … approached subtly or directly? Some people love to lay their cards on the table, with direct requests or suggestions that leave no room for misunderstanding: “Are you in the mood?” or “Get into bed now!” But others would find such directness startling, cold, or abrupt. Instead, they’ll talk about a preference for the seduction game, with subtle teasing or flirting that allows them to get them in the mood.
  • … be surprised, or see it coming? One person may want to anticipate, think about, and/or plan for the event as their arousal evolves, while others find that their arousal erupts when they are surprised. These people will often talk about “spontaneity": Do you want me to give you a "heads-up" that I am thinking about sex, or do you want to be surprised?”
  • Take the time to ask these questions and listen closely to the answers. Figure out what really works best for your partner. It’s ok if different things work for each of you. She suggests that in  long term relationships the differences can add spice and in the short term, you can figure out a way to eroticize your partner's initiation style or… simply take turns!