Is The Hook-Up Culture Along With Our Fear Of Love Turning Us Into A Lonely Generation

Doing it the “right” way for yourself (and for your partner) can mean the difference between an exciting sexual encounter… or no sex at all.

Do you prefer a kiss, a tease, an invitation or being pressed passionately against a wall to get you in the mood for sex? Does your partner know which will work best to get you hot?

Every couple recognizes the moment when sex is “on the table.” It could happen with an extra-long hug, a passionate kiss, a sexy conversation or a straight-up question, “Do you want to have sex tonight?” Whichever style of initiation we use, doing it the “right” way for yourself (and for your partner) can mean the difference between an exciting sexual encounter… or no sex at all.

Many couples come into my office wondering why they are no longer having sex. One person usually wants sex more (and surprisingly that is not divided by gender lines). Over time that partner gets shot down so much that they feel rejected. But things are not always what they seem.

They both want sex, but this disconnect at the initiation stage is leaving them both at a loss.

Too often the higher-desire partner is initiating sex in a way that just doesn’t work for the lower-desire partner (hence the rejection). Sex stops before it gets a chance to start.

Since we are all more excited about sex when approached in a style that works for us, learning to respond to our partner’s initiation style can can determine whether we get a sexual home-run or strike out.

Brad loves “making out,” old style. He says it reminds him of great times exploring sex on the couch at 17. Now, his favourite way to start sex with his partner (Jasmine) of 10 years is to sidle up to her when she is relaxing on the couch and caress her arm to get a sense if she is “receptive.” He looks sad as he admits that he is too often met with rejection. He believes that he likes sex more than she does.

But when Jasmine was asked what works best for her, she lit up describing sexy talk. Engaging in breathy whispers of what they will do together is exciting to her. Her eyes rolled at the thought of Brad’s “passive” caresses. She said with a pleading look, “If he wants it, why doesn’t he just ask?”

They both want sex, but this disconnect at the initiation stage is leaving them both at a loss — Brad blaming Jasmine for not wanting sex and Jasmine blaming Brad for not engaging with her more.

Everything is different in the beginning phases of a relationship. A force we can’t see or touch pulls us together. We don’t have to negotiate who will be the one to initiate the first sexual touch or how we will do it, because both people are drawn by new-relationship energy.

But that sexual mind-meld exists only at the very beginning of a relationship (if at all). In long-term relationships, sexual initiation isn’t always that smooth. Who initiates sex, and how and when, can be confusing to many couples in long-term relationships. It can appear that one person doesn’t want sex, when they are just not getting the cues or don’t jibe with the way it starts. Too often both parties would be more open to sex if they were just approached in a way that works for them.

We found a large variety in how people wanted to be approached for sex.

Couples very quickly fall into a pattern of who initiates in their relationship. And it is often the man in the role of initiator, with most initiations likely to be non-verbal gestures such as touch and with an idea that sex should happen spontaneously.

To understand this crucial make-or-break initiating moment, we did our own research asking 500 people online to describe their initiation preferences. Overall we found a large variety in how people wanted to be approached for sex. For example, while most of us believe that some behaviours (like kissing) are universally arousing to everyone, that turned out not to be so. For example, kissing was mentioned the most out of all initiation strategies (38 per cent), however that leaves a majority (62 per cent) of women who did not choose kissing as a preferred initiation strategy.

Woman whispering in man's ear, close up

Luckily, the many different initiation strategies fell into distinct patterns of seven styles of initiation. The seven styles are:

  1. Make-out Style: Kiss me! This style gets hot with the “old-style” make-out-on-your-parent’s-couch mode.
  2. Passion Style: Look at me! These folks feel “passionate” when they are desired with an urgency.
  3. Sapio-dynamic Style: Tease me! The sexual heat of this style soars when you engage their mind.
  4. Sensualist Style: Touch me! This group comes alive sexually when they “feel” different sensations of touch.
  5. Love-connection Style: Romance me! Appealing to the heart with emotional talk and gestures will get this style aroused.
  6. Verbal Style: Talk dirty to me! Use your words with this group — hearing and saying sexy-talk gets them in the mood.
  7. Power Style: Play rough! The folks in this group get turned on by playing with power.

None of the individual strategies or seven styles were found to be better than any other, they were all just different. Not surprisingly, however, the lovers who knew their partner’s style had the most sexual satisfaction.

When Brad found out he preferred the “make-out style” and Jasmine discovered her style was the “verbal style,” they both relaxed. Brad realized that Jasmine actually wanted more sex. Hurray! And when he started to incorporate more sexy-talk and direct language into his repertoire, he rarely got turned down anymore. Jasmine reported feeling closer to Brad now, like he “gets her” more. In turn she started to enjoy the make-out sessions in a way she had never had before.

They both realized there is no right or wrong way to initiate sex. Since then, they have had many make-out sessions and sexy-talk sessions, sometimes even together! They were both smiling when they told me how much they were now enjoying the sex they were having.

Knowing which style(s) work best for you and which style(s) your partner enjoys is important for any sexual connection. And it is dead-easy to find it out.

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