May 11, 2009

Q&A: How Should I Initiate Sex With My Girlfriend?

I recommend talking to this girl to learn more about her interest in being sexual with you. Are you sure that she wants to have sex with you? How do you know?

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Question: I’ve never had sex before and the girl that wants to have sex with me has a problem initiating it. Could you help me out with a few pointers to start sex?

Considering how rare it is for young men and women to have received comprehensive sexuality information in school or from their parents, it’s not surprising that many people are curious about what exactly happens when two people have sex.

Even when teachers and parents do talk to their teenaged or college-aged kids about having sex, they often focus mainly on the risks associated with sex such as sexually transmissible infections (STI), unintended pregnancy, or feeling hurt, used or heartbroken.

It’s less common for men and women to learn about the possible pleasures and joys associated with sex as well as the basic “how-to” information about sex, including who initiates it. Couples often find that it feels natural to take turns. Sometimes one person initiates and other times the other person initiates. It can feel sexy for people to each get a chance to initiate or to respond.

Talk To Her

I would recommend talking to this girl to learn more about her interest in being sexual with you. Are you certain that she wants to have sex with you? If so, how do you know?

Some people mistake flirtation for an interest in sex, and it’s important to make sure that the person you think wants to have sex with you truly does want to have sex with you before you go any further. All too often, people mis-read signals and may end up in a situation in which one person said that sex was wanted and the other one says it wasn’t – that it was assault or rape. Making certain that your partner wants to be sexual with you is therefore critical.

If you talk and find out that she is interested in having sex, don’t forget to make sure that you want to have sex too! Sometimes men have sex simply because they’ve found someone who wants to have sex with them, rather than because they are attracted to, in like or in love with the person.

If you want to wait until you find someone who you are more attracted to or who you have certain feelings or commitments to, or find it easier to talk about sex with, that’s okay too.

…And Talk Some More

If you both want to have sex, I’d recommend that you do even more talking first.

What steps are you both taking regarding birth control? You mentioned that you haven’t had sex before, but have you had other types of sex such as oral sex or dry sex (rubbing your naked genitals against a partner’s naked genitals)? Has she? If so, you two may want to get tested for STIs before being sexual with each other.

You may also want to discuss your expectations for having sex such as whether you will consider yourselves to be in a relationship, to be free to date other people or not, whether you want to hang out more often, and such.

Believe it or not, this whole process of communication is a major part of initiating sex as it lets your partner know that you’re into them and that you’re taking it seriously and treating them – and yourself – with respect and care.


When it comes to the physical aspects of sex, people often start with kissing and non-genital touching, such as touching or caressing each other on the stomach, back, breasts/chest, arms or inner thighs before moving to genital touching. Some people spend 10 or 20 minutes or longer in foreplay before having intercourse. Others spend even longer (an hour or more) in foreplay, which can increase arousal and enhance a woman’s natural vaginal lubrication, making sex more comfortable and pleasurable.

Learn More

To learn more about sex, check out S.E.X. The All-You-Need-to-Know Progressive Sexuality Guide to Get You Through High School and College by Heather Corinna.