How to Lean Into Responsive Sexual Desire

1. Schedule sex.
Don’t be so quick to dismiss it. (After all, it works for sticking to your workout routine—why not extend it to your sexual wellness as well?) Sitting down with your planners and Google calendars and plotting out between work, birthdays, and exercise when you’re going to make time to ~get it on~ may not sound sexy. But “when the partner with responsive desire knows sex will happen at a certain time, they can seek out arousal tools, like erotica, ethical porn, masturbation, or ahead of time to help themselves get in the mood,” says Dr. Harper. (Or, good ol’ daydreaming.)

Plus, assuming you clear out your calendars for longer than, like, thirty minutes, it also ensures there’s plenty of time to do things that help the responsive desire partner get in the mood (think: showering together, kissing, etc.) versus feeling pressured to be ready to go ASAP.

If scheduling sex far ahead doesn’t feel right for you and your partner, consider scheduling date nights instead, and touch base that day about whether sex is on the table or not. Or, try some of these other suggestions first.

2. Intentionally take turns initiating sex.
Often in relationships where one partner experiences spontaneous sexual desire and the other experiences responsive sexual desire, the spontaneous person begins to feel like they’re always the initiator, says Vrangalova. Then, the partner who experiences responsive desire may begin to feel like their partner is constantly pestering them for sex, and feel guilty for saying no. This can lead to resentment on both sides. To interrupt this cycle, she suggests agreeing to take turns extending invitations to one another to have sex. Just remember: Your partner always maintains the right to say no.

Here’s how it works: Pre-determine a period of time within which you’ll each initiate, says O’Reilly. Maybe you’ll plan to initiate sex once per week, and alternate who initiates each week. This way, the responsive desire partner(s) can actively seek out arousal once they’re aroused, says Dr. Harper. (More here: How to Ask Your Partner for More Sex Without Offending Them)

3. Don’t make sex the objective.
Going from zero-percent horny to sex (of any kind) can be super daunting, especially when you’re working or busy child-rearing. Unfortunately, for a lot of couples, lines like “hey, babe, want to try to have sex tonight?” or “want to smash?” are common-place.

Vrangalova’s suggestion? Try asking “I’d love to take a shower together at the end of the day” or “how would you feel about a good old-fashioned makeout session?” instead. Why? Because making things like long passionate kisses, sensual massage, watching porn, reading erotica together, dirty talk, fantasy sharing, hand play, or even cuddling can feel more accessible to a not-currently-turned-on partner. (See More: 10 Foreplay Ideas That Can Be Even Hotter Than Penetration)

“If it progresses to sex from there, great. If not, that’s okay, too!” she says. “You’ll still get the benefit of spending intimate time together.” (And, if it’s applicable, the benefits of human touch.)

4. Lean on pleasure products.
“Research reveals that vibrator use is positively correlated with desire, lubrication, orgasm, lower levels of pain, and overall sexual satisfaction,” says O’Reilly. “So, sometimes some vibration or suction is just what your body needs to get in the mood.” Rather than going right for your hot-spots, spend some time using the vibe on your inner thighs, back, chest tissue and nipples, and the fleshy part of your bum, she suggests. Think of it as a self-care massage—and then let it turn sexual if it feels right.

5. Do a little extra sex ed.
Specifically, read books on this very topic such Mind the Gap by Karen Gurney or Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski.

Why? Because the greatest obstacle most couples face is their expectation around how sex “should” work, says Vrangalova. “Many people get stuck in this notion that you should only have sex if both partners are spontaneously horny at the exact same time—and refuse sex when that’s not the case.” (Sound familiar?)

Both of these books go into even more depth on topics discussed in this article to help you better understand just how normal any type of sexual desire is and how the messages you might have absorbed through pop-culture are pleasure-blocking your sex. Both also feature exercises you and your boo can do together to help you better understand your preconceived notions about desire, and how to troubleshoot them for boosted pleasure. (Get more wisdom from Nagoski here: How to Get More Pleasure By Shifting Your Mindset.)