How To Avoid Feeling Awkward When Coming Out Of A Sex Drought

It's not just like riding a bike!

young woman feeling awkward santypan /

Even if you're worried sex after a long drought might be devastatingly awkward, that doesn’t mean it’s automatically going to be no-sparks experience. Because sex after a sexual drought can be downright moving and exciting.

And the key lies in how you approach it.

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Tips on Having Sex After a Long Period of Time

As a sex therapist and online sex coach, there are a few things I have been privy to over the years in conversations with clients.


One of them is how dry spells cause sexual anxiety — the other is how our approach to sex can relieve some of our sexual anxiety (creating better sex in turn).

Here are a few ways to acknowledge the awkwardness and create a sexual experience that sparks less anxiety — and more closeness. 

RELATED: Being Awkward In Bed Actually Brings You CLOSER Together

Set the bar right

If you haven’t been intimate in a long time, getting hot and heavy will likely be a little awkward — and that’s okay. 

The most important thing you can do to mitigate this awkwardness and not fall into the trap of “I knew it — I don’t know how to have sex anymore”, is to set realistic expectations


Just like riding a bike might be awkward and jolty when you haven’t done it in a while, so can sex be.

But you’ll get back into it — I’ve seen enough clients who do.

By creating a realistic picture in your mind you’re lowering the stakes. And when sex feels like less of a performance you have to get right, there's less pressure.

Lowering the bar doesn’t mean you’re resigning to bad sex. It means practicing a bit of compassion with yourself and your partner, and knowing that if things are a little embarrassing or unsmooth during sex, it’s not the end of the world. 

And I say this because I know how much it can feel like it truly is the end — of your relationship or your marriage — but it usually isn't. This speaks to the power of our thoughts.


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Get comfy with each other

Jumping into bed together (or having sex on your kitchen island if that’s what you prefer) likely feels a little daunting right now. And when we feel uncomfortable with the idea, it can help us to be close in other ways. 

If you’re the kind of couple who have lost their sense of physical intimacy in general, this might mean creating physical touchpoints throughout the day. For instance, you could make a point of sitting close to one another on the sofa or holding hands when taking a walk.

By doing this you’re easing into touch that over time, can turn sexual, more naturally.


If you feel emotionally distant — and if what triggers sexual desire is emotional intimacy between you two — try exercises that spark closeness.

For example, these inspiring (and practical) quotes on keeping a relationship alive, with corresponding questions to ask one another, are a great way of deepening your connection.

By getting close and comfy in other ways, you’ll make the next step towards having sex after a long period of time, smaller, more doable, and even — exciting.

RELATED: 55 Intimacy Quotes To Inspire Emotional & Physical Intimacy

Talk about it before you have sex

As with all sexual challenges — communication is key. So, if you’re feeling nervous, tell your partner. If you’re worried — share your fears. 


Sex is an intimate experience and by sharing your feelings about it, you’re getting vulnerable, which is often what sex often is all about

Opening up about your emotions and worries is a great way of feeling closer, which might help alleviate some worry about your upcoming sexual experience. 

After all, you’ve already opened up your heart which can make it much easier to open up sexually.

For instance, you might be nervous about:

  • Having rusty technique when pleasing your partner
  • Not being able to orgasm during sex
  • Your erection faltering 

When you share this with your partner you create an opportunity to remove things that are pressuring or get creative on ways of dealing with the fear together.


And sometimes, just saying it out loud is enough for the worry to melt away. 

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Engage in 'pillow talk'

Having sex after a long period of time might result in sex that doesn’t feel the way it used to. This can sometimes be enough to set off alarm bells from within. 

Suddenly we’re thrown into an avalanche of thoughts like: 

  • There must be something wrong with me.
  • My partner obviously isn’t attracted to me anymore.
  • This probably means we should break up.

After all — we’ve all been sold the lie that sex that doesn’t knock your socks off somehow means something must be wrong with you, your partner, or your relationship. And this is a common myth about why couples stop having sex — not fact.


But even if there can be truth to these thoughts, they're just thoughts more often than not. Because even couples who say they have great sex lives, don’t see sparks flying all of the time. 

The most important thing to focus on when worrisome thoughts hijack your brain is how to calm your nervous system. This is where your post-sex ritual can be crucial.

This might look like engaging in cuddling after sex to release oxytocin (dubbed the bonding hormone) or having a warm, soapy shower together.


This will help you feel closer emotionally and strengthen your bond. In turn, this can calm your thoughts and you might even feel more positive about the sexual experience you just shared - making you feel less nervous about the next time.

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Four areas to focus on

Sex can be easy, but many times it isn’t, and this seldom has to do with the sex itself. Instead, it’s about our thoughts, our emotions and our relationship as a whole. 

Because of this, it’s important to:

  • Focus on setting realistic expectations for your first sexual experience after a long hiatus.
  • Talk about your worries and fears with your partner.
  • Get close and comfy emotionally and/or physically.
  • Develop ways of coming together after sex that strengthen your bond.

By doing all of these things, you’ll be one step closer to having sex after a long period of time that feels less daunting, and a heck of a lot sexier.


RELATED: 7 Ways We Keep Our Married Sex Life Sizzling After 22 Years Together

Leigh Norén is a sex therapist and coach with a Master of Science in Sexology.