From Texting to Touching: Revealing the UK's Most Popular Sex Initiation Techniques

by Lovehoney

on 17 Nov 2023

Lovehoney’s latest study surveyed 1,500 adults to uncover how Brits want their partners to initiate sex.

Initiation Techniques | Lovehoney UK

Initiation Techniques

For most of us, the way sex is initiated can make or break an intimate moment. Whether you prefer a romantic dinner in a room filled with candles, or your partner’s foot sliding up your leg under the table, knowing which buttons to press is important. But with so many different ways of expressing desire, how do Brits prefer to get hot and heavy?

To find out, we surveyed 1,500 Brits about the ways they prefer sex to be initiated. We also spoke to Elisabeth Neumann, Head of User Research at Lovehoney, who explains why some initiation techniques are more popular than others, before sharing tips on initiating sex when you’re at home for Christmas.

More than half of Brits want their partners to initiate sex through physical touch

Physical touch ranks as the most popular initiation technique among Brits, with over half (51%) expressing a preference for their partner to convey interest in sex through gentle touches, caresses, and kissing.

With that being said, not everyone likes to get straight down to it. Organising a candlelit dinner or creating an intimate setting can go a long way to setting the mood, increasing intimacy, and making the overall experience more enjoyable. Close to half (49%) of Brits also appreciate romantic gestures like this as a way for their partner to express their sexual desires.

We also found that subtle non-verbal cues are the next favoured initiation technique, with nearly half (47%) of Brits enjoying it when their partner uses body language, eye contact, or touch to indicate their interest in sex.

On why physical touch and romantic gestures rank as the most preferred ways of initiating sex, Elisabeth says: “There is the assumption that the mind is aroused first, and then the body will follow, but it can totally work the other way around. Consensual touch, which feels teasing, tingling or otherwise erotic, might initiate mental and physical arousal.

“Physical touch is an immediate and direct way of communication. I assume the 51% who prefer this way of initiating sex appreciate the directness and the immediate physical connection that is built up. A romantic gesture, on the other hand, is more of an indirect invite. A partner must put some thought into it, and act on it. Even if it is “just” a sticky note with some loving words, it requires someone to put effort in. It is a nice way of letting your partner feel appreciated as well as seduced.”

How do people want sex to be initiated? | Lovehoney UK

How do age and gender influence our preferences when it comes to initiating sex?

Physical touch and romantic gestures are the most popular initiation techniques among women, with more than half (52%) admitting they prefer their partners to indicate interest in this way. Men, on the other hand, prefer direct communication, with more than half (52%) admitting they would rather have clear consent. Elisabeth states “There are many theories to explain gender-based differences in sexual behavior. I think that we have to acknowledge the influences of the messages that surround us when growing up, especially in sexual and gender socialisation.

“Every one of us shapes our own sexual script, which is influenced by experiences, but also movies, role models, etc. Any romantic comedy you could think of displays women as craving romantic gestures, and this is reflected in our survey data.

“While women are supposed to be passive and seduced, men are expected to act pro-active, direct, and guiding. I assume that these expectations cause men to prefer direct communication, which is an active approach, while women prefer rather passive options.”

How Men vs. Women Want Sex to be Initiated | Lovehoney UK

However, the way people like sex to be initiated seems to change more significantly as we age. We found that romantic gestures are the preferred way to initiate sex among 18 to 24-year-olds (66%) and 25 to 34-year-olds (57%), and non-verbal cues (58%) are the favoured method for those aged 35-44. Once we reach our mid-forties, it seems our preferences change to be slightly more direct, with physical touch being the most popular among 45 to 54-year-olds (49%) and those over 55 (47%).

“We know that one of the advantages of sex in older age is that people tend to be less insecure and anxious about sex and their body. This might explain the preference for direct communication, like physical touch”, says Elisabeth. “The idea of what intimacy and sex are also broadens when you age. Penetration becomes less relevant, while any pleasant touch that pleases the involved parties is valued, and appreciated. So physical touch itself is the initiation for intimacy, whatever this might mean for a couple.

“People in older age also tend to be in a long-term relationship, where certain patterns and clues are established in the couples’ sexual scripts. This usually involves a certain phrase or words, or a kind of touch which is well understood in this specific relationship.”

Which initiation techniques do the different star signs respond the best to?

Scorpios have a reputation for being a highly sexual sign, so it’s no surprise to see them well represented across all initiation techniques. Although they seem to be down for sex to start in pretty much any way, they do have a slight preference for non-verbal cues (56%) and physical touch (54%). So if you’re looking to seduce a Scorpio, body language is the way to go.

Capricorns prefer physical touch the most among all the signs, with almost two-thirds (60%) preferring their partner to use this initiation technique. Capricorns are known for being reserved and value comfort in their sexual relationships, so when it comes to initiating sex, they may need clear signals from their partner before they can let themselves go and enjoy the moment.

How to initiate sex discreetly while at home for Christmas

With it being clear that many of us prefer our partner(s) to be more direct when letting us know they’re ready to get hot and heavy, some of us may find it challenging to initiate intimacy over the Christmas period when we’re surrounded by friends and family.

On how we can make sure we’re not having to hold back just because a family member may be in the room next door, Elisabeth has shared the following advice: “Physical touch doesn’t mean direct involvement of genitals or other explicit sexual areas. Touching in any way, eye gazing or a simple kiss can communicate a lot, without letting other people know.

“There are also a range of different toys people can take with them that are on the more quiet and discreet side, such as the Womanizer Premium 2, vibrator eggs, cock rings and glass dildos, so they don’t have to take a break from exploring new things in the bedroom.”

Sources and Methodology

All data was taken from a survey of 1,500 Nat Rep UK respondents, aged 18+, carried out in October 2023.

Expert commentary provided by:

Elisabeth Neumann, Head of User Research at Lovehoney


Written by Lovehoney. For collaborative posts between Lovehoney team members and guest authors
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Originally published on 17 Nov 2023. Updated on 17 Nov 2023