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How to Ask Your Partner for Sex Without Sounding Desperate

It’s pretty simple: Just make it sound hot.

One of life’s major bonerkillers is the moment you learn that sex between two people who theoretically love and are attracted to each other still takes “work.” Ugh. You’ll have to make a concerted effort to keep it going, to keep it interesting, to keep it alive, because your sex life is a literal living, breathing thing that needs food, sunlight and attention-water. In addition to the full-time job of keeping the relationship going, keeping the sex going can be like a second job.

What kind of job depends on how good you’ve got it. Is it the cleaning horse stalls all summer kind, or the fun lifeguard at the pool kind? The work of it may feel like an interminable slog or it may not feel like work at all.

But there is still some kind of work if you have either mismatched libidos due to desire issues, or bad timing due to life issues. One person wants to do it more than the other person, so the person who wants to do it more has to ask for it and initiate it, and that gets old, and then people get really pissy with each other. Alternately both people want to do it, they just get tired and/or busy or don’t want to do it at the same time, and then they realize they are very pissy with each other.

And when things stall, someone has to initiate. That is typically men (sorry) and after a while, you get stuck in some kind of weird, pestering rut where you’re always pawing at your lady for sex and she’s always giving you the Heisman.

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The best sex is the enthusiastic fun kind that happens naturally without the pawing, because the indifferent boring kind is extremely awkward for both parties.

So you have to work at making sex fun and desirable, even though fun things are supposed to be easy and sex should sell itself.

So how do you get your lady to want to fuck you? How do you ask someone for sex without ruining the very spontaneity and fun that sex demands? How can you do it without seeming like you’re pestering them or super, irritatingly, unattractively needy? How can you do it without opening yourself up to vulnerability and rejection? If you’ve read one post on Reddit’s Dead Bedrooms, you’ve read them all, which is to say this is not the road you want to end up on.

There are two ways to ask for sex: Directly and indirectly. Directly may seem easier, but it does require a certain kind of relationship. In both instances, you must do it hotly, with hotness, to make it very hot.

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If you don’t want to say, LET’S FUCK TONIGHT PLEASE BABY, you’ll just have to make her want to fuck you, okay? That’s not as simple as snapping your fingers, but it can be done.

When I asked a few of my friends in long-term relationships how they’d want their man to ask them for sex without being needy or asking directly for sex, one woman who has been married about a decade said, “The best play is to just make a move, not say, ‘Can we have sex?’”

You make a move in a variety of ways depending on what works with your woman, but a few things go a long way: Compliments, attention, the general ability to talk, and expressing how much you need and want her. Bonus points for telling her how much you want to get her off. One woman in a relationship for about four years now said it’s as simple as him saying this:

“Hey, baby, do you want me to make you come real good?”

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Her other tip: “Maybe be sexy? That’s an idea if you want to have sex.”

Of course, you should make the move, too, and that move is entirely dependent on what your woman would respond to. This is pretty much what the experts say, too. Sex therapist Vanessa Marin writes at Lifehacker that some of the best moves that lead to enthusiastic sex involve creating a sense of desire and feeling wanted in the other person. Reminding her how good she looks right now, or on some earlier, memorable date where you boned. Doing the things that once turned her on that you might not do as much now, like kissing the back of her neck or sending her a text telling her how turned on you’ve been thinking about fucking her all day. Jokes, lighthearted playful humor, and generally a willingness to sexify your interactions are required.

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When I think about how couples keep sex alive, I often think of this one New York Sex Diary I read. Though it could be entirely edited up for Penthouse-y spice, let’s take it at face value. It’s about a married Italian couple in their 40s with children, ex-husbands and wives, child-support payments, pets, demanding jobs. And they still have sex. Whenever they can. And they like it. And they both still masturbate on the side, thinking about the sex they have with each other!

I don’t bring up Mr. and Mrs. Fucks-a-Lot to make us all feel bad, although we will most certainly feel bad, but it’s instructive because they don’t have sex anywhere near as often as they’d like because of their busy lives, but they make sure they do it because they are both enthusiastic and horny and want to fuck each other. It would be a mistake to assume they just got lucky and don’t have to do anything, because they do have to. They fantasize about the sex, plan for the sex, get all dressed up and do dinner with a plan to role-play at home after, and then reference and reinforce the sex the next day by mentioning how hot it was to each other.

In other words, the “work” they do to keep the sex going is to always demonstrate excitement for the sex out loud, verbally, with actual words, and make it a priority.

Yes, they schedule it, too. We’ve written before about how we should not think of scheduled sex as boring or bad sex, because once you’re two adults with jobs, weird work hours or especially children you will need to plan to fuck sometimes, and since when is knowing someone wants to fuck you later a turn off? Marin said a couple she knows simply texts each other a question mark at some point during the day to indicate they wanted to fuck that night.

It’s instructive because we should all strive for that — for maintaining a relationship in such a way that the sex is a constant source of excitement and connection, that we can’t wait to be with someone, and that we think often of ways to keep it fresh and exciting. If everyone did that kind of “work,” you’d probably rarely have to ask for sex directly because you’d be fucking whenever you could.

But what if you do have to ask directly?


Say “Let’s have sex.” I know, it sounds simple, but you have to be in a generally good relationship with someone who likes the sex but for whatever reason doesn’t initiate or doesn’t necessarily think about it, but will have sex with you because they love you and like having sex with you.

Two women I spoke with both said that is the working strategy in their relationship due to schedules being off in the morning/evening times when sex would be most organic.

One said:

I am down to have sex pretty much whenever, but I ALSO never actively think about sex (not really!), or feel sexy or do sexy stuff. I told [My Man] that it is a good idea for him to just be like “Let’s have sex” in the middle of the day because 95 percent of the time I’ll be like, “Okay.” Men should just be like, “We should go have sex!” Don’t say it like a pervert or child, say it like you’re talking to your best friend, who hopefully likes you and has some kind of sense of humor.

Another said:

Yeah, “Let’s have sex” is the ONLY acceptable discussion for me, and I will 99 percent of the time say, “Great, yeah.” I’m the same — I don’t think about it. And it’s not personal, it’s just not on my mind.

That’s just two women in long-term relationships, and to be clear, plenty of women initiate and think about sex and are the pestering person in the relationship who can’t get enough.

Regardless, the one thing both these strategies have in common is the fact that they are really the same strategy. Asking for sex is really just expressing desire for another person in such a way that makes them feel completely wanted. They tend to make a “we” thing, or a how much they want her thing, and not just a their needs thing, unless the need is to have her tonight bent over the couch.

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If your issues preventing sex are more complicated than this — that includes medical issues or longstanding anger and contempt or total disinterest in sex — the nearest couch you’re on should probably be a therapist’s. That’s okay, because you can’t really get back to great sex if you’re still stewing over an argument from six months ago, or in some volatile blame cycle about whose fault it is that everything broke down sexually to begin with.

But if the sex was great once and you just want more of it, and otherwise you’re in a good thing, speaking up is the fastest route to getting down. Just do it with some charm.