A Guide for Women: How To Come Onto Your Partner
Initiating sex can be as nerve-wracking as navigating the streets of a new city.
Thanks in large part to the long-running shaming of feminine sexuality, women struggle to come onto their partners, often relying on men to manage the seduction.
Let's change that.
Why do some women struggle to initiate sex?
Roughly 22 percent of women in heterosexual relationships in the United States rarely or never initiate sex, compared to 13 percent of men, a 2020 survey for the book, "Tell Me What You Want" by Justin Lehmiller, Ph.D., suggested.
Sometimes, this reluctance is born out of insecurity or fear of rejection, and sometimes, it is fed by the shaming of sexually open women. The reasons why women struggle to initiate sex with their partners confidently are as varied and unique as the women themselves.
As soon as their sexuality develops, some women are shamed for its existence, objectified daily but not allowed to unapologetically claim their own sensuality. Sometimes women are taught that they should not enjoy sex or that it is dictated by male pleasure. Some people never learn to ask for sex due to fear of judgment.
Other factors include a fear of rejection, which makes initiating sex too daunting for some women, or there may be internal or external pressure to live up to a certain standard of sexual performance.
Sometimes, it’s as simple as not feeling confident enough in our abilities or appearance to feel capable of seducing or satisfying a partner.
"If you and your partner have different sexual needs, it can be hard to feel confident," said Pippa Murphy, a sex and relationships expert for Condoms.uk. "For example, if he wants sex more often than you do or if the kind of sex he enjoys doesn't align with your preferences, then this can be a source of stress and anxiety for both of you."
There may also be a biological element to this struggle, said Kenneth Play, a New York-based international educator and author of "Beyond Satisfied: A Sex Hacker’s Guide to Endless Orgasms, Mind-Blowing Connection and Lasting Confidence."
"According to evolutionary psychology, females are usually the ones being seduced, and selecting their mate," Play said. "The males are the ones initiating. This has been reinforced, culturally and socially in human history. Women might feel as though they shouldn’t have to initiate. If they feel that way, initiating can make them feel less desirable."
Learning how to overcome this fear is easier than you might think, it just requires a little realigning of your approach to sex.
How can you build your sexual confidence?
With the reasons for this struggle so diverse, empowering ourselves to initiate sex with confidence and without shame requires a little introspection. Before you seduce someone else, take the time to explore your needs and identify what turns you on to build sexual confidence.
When was the last time you studied your naked body? It's likely been awhile.
"But if you take some time out from your day to really look at yourself in the mirror, then you'll be able to see yourself in a whole new light. You'll notice all the little things about your body that you didn't notice before and realize how much power it has over other people," Murphy said.
Self-exploration can help build the framework that allows your sexual confidence to exist as its own entity, separate from your partner. Partnered sex is wonderful and the confidence boost it gives us is invaluable, however, tying our sensual self-esteem to another person makes it harder to initiate sex without their explicit encouragement.
Take the time to recognize your seductive power. Try taking sensual selfies and videos for your own consumption, and enjoy them solo before sharing them with current or potential partners.
Figure out what type of initiation works best for you: indirect or direct.
- Direct initiation: when a person initiates sex clearly by conveying your interest unambiguously, such as removing your clothes seductively or asking them verbally.
- Indirect initiation: characterized by subtler behaviors, such as complimenting your partner or asking for a snuggle in bed.
How do you communicate your difficulty initiating sex to your partner?
Once you’ve crafted a solid foundation of sexual confidence to work from, communicating your difficulties to a partner is the next step. A partner cannot help if they do not know there is a problem. Open communication around sex helps contribute to a healthier intimate connection.
"Discuss this outside of a sexual context," Play said. Choose a time to have your conversation when you won't be interrupted. "Do you like being seduced? If so, how do you like it? If not, how can I let you know when I’m available to be seduced? Can we have a sign, like twirling my hair, that means 'come seduce me, baby?'"
Having this initial conversation may be a little scary, particularly if you come from a background where conversations around sex were actively suppressed.
"If you're feeling embarrassed or anxious about speaking up, try writing down all your feelings before having an actual conversation with them so you can be clear-headed without getting caught up in emotions," Murphy said.
When a lack of sexual initiative has been a source of conflict in the past, it can make talking about it all the more difficult.
"You should also refrain from saying things like 'you don’t make it easy' or 'you don’t understand.' When you say things like this, it makes the other person feel defensive and invalidated," Murphy said.
Focus on asking your partner what they like. Identify clear turn ons for your partner and make a note of them. Try them out one at a time and experiment with a routine that enhances your confidence while driving them wild.
How can you get better at seducing your partner?
The most important ingredient for seduction is confidence. Do not shy away from your sensuality. Embrace the power it has to please your partner and spice up your sex life. Learning how to seduce your partner doesn't have to be stressful.
"If you become truly competent in pleasing your partner, you automatically develop confidence," Play said. "Unfortunately, a lot of us consider sex to be something instinctual, rather than a skill you can develop by adopting a growth mindset. So, we over-invest in how we look, as opposed to our skill set. Take a class, read a book and invest in your sexual repertoire."
Outside of evolving your sexual knowledge and prowess, try verbalizing your desires with your partner. Long-term relationship or not, you can make your commitment feel fresh and exciting.
Slip into super sexy lingerie and wear their favorite perfume to surprise them during the day. Whisper what you would like them to do to your body while you're watching TV or use light, tracing physical touches all over their body before offering them a massage and touching all their erogenous zones. Go with what feels good in the moment
The bottom line
Sex should be fun, and sometimes even a bit silly. Taking it too seriously can make the art of seduction even more terrifying. It's okay if you sometimes laugh when you're talking dirty or giggle when you start kissing. It's meant to be enjoyable.
"Being a little goofy and relaxed, taking the pressure off, can actually reduce anxiety and feel sexier a lot of the time," Play said. "The goal is enjoyment with each other’s bodies, so if you’re hoping to alleviate pressure from the situation, the best thing you can do is be playful. Cultivate a sense of exploration and adventure."