Whether you’re in a relationship or just starting to date someone, it can be hard to know when to initiate sex if it doesn’t come up naturally. Maybe you couldn’t keep your clothes on when you first got together, but that initial lust-hungry time has passed, or maybe you both still desire each other but have a lot of other things going on.

So how do you ask for sex without things getting awkward? You don’t want to feel rejected or put pressure on your partner, but you do want to let them know that you’re in the mood. If you’re curious about how to initiate sex with your partner, keep reading for tips on how to ask for what you want so you can have the sex life of your dreams.

Ask when they have time to listen

If your partner is preoccupied with school, work, or family drama, you may want to give them some space to deal with those things. That’s not to say you want to go weeks or months without sex because you both are busy, but you don’t want them to feel like you’re ignoring what they might consider their top priority. When you have a quiet moment, such as when you’re going to bed, as you get up in the morning, or on a lazy weekend, say something along the lines of, “I’ve been thinking about you and would love to steal you for a little while.” You can say it suggestively or be more forthright, as long as you’re doing it at a time when they’re in the right headspace.

Use private signals

Maybe you have a word or phrase that signals you’re ready for action, or an outfit you put on that lets them know you’re raring to go. You can use this as a way to guide yourselves toward sexy time. Maybe you whisper that word into their ear as you’re heading home from running errands or while cleaning up the dinner dishes. Or you slip away, put on a special piece of revealing lingerie that signals that you want them, right now, and surprise them with a visual treat.

Make sure they know it’s okay to say no

This one is a two-parter: Leave room for them to gracefully decline sex and make sure you know it’s not personal if they do. There are lots of reasons people may not want to get it on at a given time that have nothing to do with their feelings or desire for you. Even if they’re your long-time partner, they may not want to tell you exactly why they’re not in the mood. So if you do initiate sex, do so in such a way that lets them know there’s no pressure. Start with something like, “If you’re up for it tonight, I’d love to _____” or, “I don’t know if you’re in the mood to ____, but if you are, maybe we can slip away for a little while.” Then respond to what they say; if they’re up for it, great. If they’re not, ask for a rain check.

Suggest a quickie

If you’re both pressed for time, you can acknowledge that while still making it clear that you’d rather have a quickie than nothing at all. If you have even twenty minutes of free time, that’s enough to get hot and heavy and is likely to put you both in a great mood. Maybe you secretly set the morning alarm a little earlier and surprise your partner by touching them just as they wake up or make a spontaneous suggestion when your roommates head out for lunch.

Share your sex toys

Perhaps you have a go-to vibrator or other sex toys that help you reach your peak when the urge strikes. What about instead of keeping that sex toy as a solo plaything you bring it into the bedroom with your partner? They’re likely curious about what it feels like for you and may want to get a sexy private viewing or even use it on themselves or on you. Keep it casual and make it clear that the sex toy is an addition to what you do together, not a competitor.

Suggest a sex date

While this may sound like a stuffy thing to do, scheduling a sex date is an easy way to make sure you’re prioritizing your sex life. If you know that you’re both always home on Monday nights with no other plans, maybe schedule an hour as a running date on your calendars. This gives you both something to look forward to and takes the pressure of asking for sex off the table. Having a regular sex date doesn’t mean that you can’t also have sex at other times, but if you wind up being busier than expected over the weekend, you can still have that Monday night date to anticipate.

There’s our advice about how to initiate sex. Go ahead and ask for what you want. You just may get a happy surprise and find your partner has been wanting to initiate sex with you!