What's Your Sex Initiation Style? Knowing The Answer Could Deepen Your Relationship

When it comes to having a healthy sex life, there's more than one way to go about it — and what works for some doesn't necessarily work for others. But while there are different ways to explore sex and intimacy with your partner, there are some things that, no matter your relationship, we all have in common. One of those things is our sex initiation style.


Your sex initiation style is exactly that: how you initiate sex with your partner when you're in the mood to explore your desire and affection sexually. For some, their initiation style might be asking if their partner wants to have sex, while for others, maybe there's a touch that their partner knows has a different energy to it, an energy that basically says, in the words of Marvin Gaye, "Let's get it on."

A 2017 study by Art of Connection asked 500 people their thoughts on sex initiation. The research found that people would rather their partner initiate sex, with preferred initiating styles being kissing, caressing, and rubbing, respectively. According to sex therapist Vanessa Marin, LMFT, there are six different sex initiation styles that can be broken up into three categories. Knowing what your initiation style is, as well as what your partner's is, allows for greater understanding and communication about your sex life. For example, if your initiation style is intimate touch but your partner prefers verbal connection, then these are things you want to know so you can adhere to each other's needs.


If you're unsure what your sex initiation style is, here are some ways to figure it out, as well as identifying your partner's.


According to Vanessa Marin, touching falls under what she labels "excite me" and "touch me." For those whose sex initiation style is either of these, for them to want to have sex, they need to feel these two elements: excitement that's expressed with a knowing touch or a direct, unmistakable touch that quietly says, let's have a romp. 


"You like [your partner] to appeal to your body first," Marin tells Well + Good. "For this person, it's not so much about feeling desired by a partner. It's more about feeling like their partner is willing to put the time into awakening their body."

However, this doesn't necessarily mean that if touching is your preferred sex initiation style, you want to skip the foreplay and get right to the main course. What it does mean is that different forms of touch are what you need so you know that sex is being initiated and you can move forward in engaging in it if you're interested in doing so. 

Physical cues

For some, being touched in a way that sparks their interest is the best route to initiate sex. For others, there needs to be something else. For example, those who have a "take care of me" initiation style are similar to those who have the "acts of service" love language. 


"An act of service is about dedicated time and effort, usually in a nonverbal way," holistic therapist Medina Colaku, M.A., LAc tells Mind Body Green. "It is quite literally showing up in ways that are tangible, meaning actions speak louder than words."

Drawing your partner a bath after a long day, helping them get their errands done, or doing what you can to make things easier for them is the way to not just their heart but, in this case, their libido. These people need a moment to feel like all they do for the relationship doesn't go unnoticed. It's the appreciation that they interpret as an initiation for sex.

But physical cues don't always have to come in the form of "acts of service." For some, it comes down to what Marin calls the "play with me" style. It's this type of sex initiation that's exactly that: playful. It doesn't have to be seriously initiated, but done so with private jokes, certain songs, or other physical cues that ultimately seduce.


Verbal communication

Because the brain is undoubtedly the largest and most important erogenous zone in the body, emotions come into play for those whose sex initiation styles are "desire me" or "connect with me." With verbal communication comes the building of intimacy, as well as anticipation; that's then interpreted as sexy or attractive, and sends signals to initiate sex with your partner.


"If you just touch them, or you try to pull some sort of physically sexy move, they likely won't respond to that because they want to feel emotionally intimate with you first," says Marin. "It's an intensity of emotion that they're looking for."

Although none of these sex initiation styles are set in stone and can change over time, being aware of your style and your partner's style can make a big difference in how you read each other on a sexual level. The healthiest and happiest relationships are the ones that are based on a deep connection of understanding each other's needs and wants — mentally, sexually, physically, and emotionally. Knowing how to appeal to these aspects of your partner will help contribute to true relationship satisfaction.