If you’re in a new relationship, it can be a little uncomfortable initiating sex for the first time (or in general). Conversations around sex—when to have it, how often, what you’re into, for how long—can sometimes feel awkward and stilted if you're not used to that type of vulnerability or if you’re still getting to know your partner.

After all, your partner(s) might not be receptive, and rejection, even if it’s not personal, can be hard not to take to heart. That being said, a healthy sexual relationship requires honest communication so that all partners feel satisfied and seen before, during, and after sex.

Below, we've got five fun, accessible suggestions for how to initiate sex in a new relationship. Take these tips as a jumping-off point and personalize them to you and your partners’ unique relationship style. Remember, it’s about connecting and having fun!

How to initiate sex: 5 fun and sexy ideas for new partners

If you're feeling nervous about initiating sex for the first time with a new partner, that’s OK! The first time for anything can be a little nerve-wracking. Flipping a pancake, riding a bike, wearing a new outfit out for the first time—it’s natural to feel butterflies! So, of course, there might be a few awkward moments when it comes to initiating sex. These tips should help!

1. Plan ahead

Finding the right time can be more of an obstacle than anything else for both new and long-term partners. Take a look at your week and find a free day and time that you think would be low-key for both you and your partner to get it on—or plan a date night. From there, you can decide if it’s the right moment to head to the bedroom.

Both approaches have their advantages. The element of surprise might be an exciting new thing for your partner. On the other hand, the pre-planned sex session has its advantages too. If both of you know you've got sex "on the books" for Wednesday at 5 p.m., you can spend Tuesday getting each other revved up for it. Send a few sexts or naughty photos, letting them know what you plan to do at the appointed time. And for even more tips, check out our blog post on scheduling sex.

2. Use your words

This can mean dirty talk, but it doesn't have to. Ask for what you want. Sometimes the fastest way to make something happen is to state your needs, whether you're looking for a quickie or a longer sex sesh.

Say something like, "I want you to go down on me," or "I want you to take your clothes off right now," or "Let's listen to a sexy story after dinner," or "Let's try this new sex position tonight."

There's always room for fun and creative ways to ask for sex, but sometimes a simple, direct declarative can do the trick.

3. Surprise them in the buff

You don't always need words to get your partner's engines revved.

If you’ve never surprised someone in the nude before, it might seem a little too risqué, but trust us, there are a few ways to pull this off successfully. If they’re planning to come by your place to hang out, answer the door naked or wear an open robe. Or, get naked and hug them from behind while they’re doing dishes so that when they reach back for you blindly, they'll discover your skin instead of clothing.

Or, the easiest route, lie naked under the covers so that when they get in bed with you, there will be a surprise waiting. Of course, you’ll need to have a sense that you’ve reached this level of comfort with your partner, but if the trust is there, definitely go for it!

4. Be open to sexual activity that isn't sex

Sometimes, the act of penetrative sex is a little more involved than your partner might want to get after a long day. Perhaps their sexual desire is high, but their energy is low. You can work with that!

The only rules around sex are the ones you make with your partner, so sex and sexual satisfaction can be totally tailored to the two of you. Ideas for getting off without penetration include oral sex, using sex toys like vibrators to get the job done faster, mutual masturbation, or even regular masturbation side by side while listening to a sexy story together. The idea that penetrative sex is the only type of sex worth having is a narrative that needs rewriting, so why not start now?

5. Choose your own adventure

There are so many potential gateways to sex and intimacy unique to you and your partner(s) that we couldn't possibly guess them all. But here are a few options that could be perfect for the two of you. Take the ones you like, leave the rest for the other readers:

  • Dance: Pick a song you both love or find a sexy playlist on Spotify and invite them to dance with you in your kitchen or living room.
  • Striptease or lap dance: This one is also dancing, but it's just you busting a move this time. Get your Bluetooth speaker going with your favorite hot number and go to town with your partner.
  • Explore the outdoors: Suggest a hike or a bike ride to a private outdoor location and offer oral sex in the woods. This could satisfy a sex-in-public fantasy with much lower stakes than, say, a well-traveled bike path or park bench.
  • Roleplay: Come up with alternate personas and communicate with each other as your persona for the evening. Pretend you're star-crossed lovers sneaking around to see each other in secret, meet at a bar and pretend that you're meeting for the first time that night. There’s always a sexy doctor, or nurse scenario, or a student-teacher role play up for grabs too. The possibilities are endless for this one; the only limit is your imagination.
  • Change up place and time: If sex so far has only happened at night in the bedroom, maybe try mixing it up. Find a different place in your apartment or house and go for it earlier in the day.
  • Get outside help: An app like Dipsea that provides all types of sexy stories can both get you going in the moment and give you new ideas about what to do next. Try listening with a partner and see what unfolds.
  • Introduce novelty: Get yourself or your partner some new lingerie or a sex toy just for the occasion. Offer to try something brand new, and be ready to communicate your boundaries.
  • Offer a sexy massage: Grab some massage oil and give your partner a sensual massage. If the rub-down is going well, offer up a happy ending.

You can try anything from this list, or maybe reading through these suggestions sparked a new idea of your own. Whatever you choose, it can be the first of many exciting encounters with your new partner.

A quick pep talk

Here’s some encouragement before we send you on your way to try out some sexy initiation (hey, why not go right after you’re done reading?).

Ignore gendered expectations

Much like engagement proposals and asking for second dates, initiating sex (in a straight relationship at least) can often default to the cis man.

This is a societal construct that’s outdated and disempowering for anyone who isn’t a cis man (and, if we’re being honest, could be a burden for him too!).

In today's modern world, stereotypical gender norms don't apply to most relationships or sexual encounters, and plenty of relationships don't involve a man at all. Shifting expectations around who can initiate sex can be a liberating start to getting over the hump (pun intended) of that potentially awkward moment.

It might be helpful to have a conversation with your partner about gendered expectations at a time when neither of you is asking for sex.

You could start by talking about your own sex drive and how you enjoy initiating sex, even if it defies conventional expectations. Express to your partner that you want to feel confident to initiate sex with them and that you want them to feel comfortable initiating sex too. If you've set some expectations out beforehand, it will likely help ease you into a future ask.

Teach your partner about yourself

It's also important to know yourself and be able to use characteristics of your own personality to break the ice or make the first move. Long-term partners would ideally know (and enjoy) each other’s humor, foreplay style, and particular turn-ons. Their familiarity with each other makes initiating sex a lot easier.

But with a newer partner, you can use unfamiliarity to your advantage. Tell them your favorite type of foreplay, for example, and ask for theirs. Learning is sexy! Share a sex position you’ve wanted to try, or maybe even a story about a past sexual encounter that you enjoyed. Just the hypothetical talk could be enough foreplay to get the ball rolling.

Let rejection roll off your back

Part of what can make initiating sex so hard is the fear of rejection. It might be easier said than done, but try not to take it personally. People can be completely in love and super attracted to each other but have very different sex drives. Nine times out of 10, a rejection in the moment isn't a rejection of you; it’s just a “no” to that particular time on that particular day.

Everyone's relationship is different, but it can sometimes diffuse that uncomfortable moment for both of you if you can make a silly joke or do something nice for your partner to let them know that it's OK (and expected) for them to state their needs.

Being the rejector can be just as uncomfortable as being the rejectee, and you definitely don't want to make your partner feel obligated to have sex. And you want to set the stage for yourself in the future, should the roles be reversed.

Initiating sex is always an ask, and questions can yield a multitude of answers. Make room for the yes, the no, and the in-between. Maybe they don't want to have full-on sex tonight but would be happy to cuddle or make out.

Getting in the mood

Initiating sex can be a fun challenge for you and your partner(s) to take turns playing with. Open, honest dialogue can help you feel closer and more comfortable initiating sex you can both get super excited about.

Remember, the only rules are the ones you agree on. There are no set gender roles here, no strict definitions of sex, and no obligations. Rejection in the moment doesn't mean a rejection of you, so just roll with it, and move on to something else.

The more you practice initiating, the more comfortable you'll be in the moment, and the more comfortable your partner will be to do the same for you.

Check out this mini-series for more help with communicating with your partner about sex. In this series, you’ll learn how to tactfully navigate moments of mismatched desire and come out the other side closer than ever.