Tired of initiating sex? Many men are!

  • Always asking for sex, while never being asked, leads to a feeling of being unloved.
  • Men in a heterosexual relationships often initiate sex more, but not always. Approaches toward sex can also vary within all types of couples.
  • Those who typically initiate sex can benefit from raising the issue to their partner without complaining.
  • Those who are sexually passive should ask their partner if their lack of initiation is undesirable, and if so, be willing to make changes.
Photo by Adam Kontor on Pexels.com

One critical reason sex stalls that is not often discussed is how sex starts—that is to say, sexual initiation.

If you want your partner to want sex, you have to know what ignites their erotic flame. Your partner may be rejecting your advances not because they don’t want to have sex with you, but because they don’t want sex initiated at that particular time, or in that particular way.

Petra Zebroff Ph.D.
The Erotic Brain

One of the worst things we can do is assume something about our partner. Did you know that many people are unhappy with the way their partner initiates sex and that everyone is different when it comes to how they want sex to start? Research shows that many people have only some idea of what works for their partner (MacNeil & Byers, 2005), and others are just wrong about their partner’s interest in sex (Muise et al, 2016).

Photo by Magda Ehlers on Pexels.com
  • If you’re the constant initiator, it’s time to tell it like it is to your partner without complaining. Be prepared to hear reasons why she or he can’t or why it’s difficult.
  • If you’re the passive partner, are you willing to make a few changes for the sake of your relationship? If your partner has never brought the issue up, don’t assume it hasn’t been noticed or that your partner likes things the way they are. Ask them!
  • The conversation you have about the change in which of you initiated sex and how each of you felt about it will open the door to more self-revealing conversations.

And here are 3 questions you can ask your partner that will definitely provide usable insight!

  1. Would you rather be asked verbally or touched physically?
  2. Would you rather be approached subtly or directly?
  3. Would you rather be surprised or see it coming?


MacNeil, S., & Byers, E. S. (2005). Dyadic assessment of sexual self-disclosure and sexual satisfaction in heterosexual dating couples. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 22(2), 169-181.

Meston, C. M., & Buss, D. M. (2007). Why humans have sex. Archives of sexual behavior, 36(4), 477-507.

Muise, A., Stanton, S. C., Kim, J. J., & Impett, E. A. (2016). Not in the mood? Men under-(not over-) perceive their partner’s sexual desire in established intimate relationships. Journal of personality and social psychology, 110(5), 725.

Zebroff, P. (2019) Sexual Initiation Scale of Arousal Development and Reliability (and preliminary Validity). Unpublished Manuscript.

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