My Partner Never Initiates Intimacy (E32)

never initiates

“I’m always the one having to initiate”

Are you in a relationship with a partner who never initiates sex? Does the situation bother you, causing you to question if they truly want you? Tired of being the one to always get the ball rolling?

In episode 32 of the Men’s Self-Help Podcast, Dr. John Moore explores this thorny issue and discussed how to create meaningful change through the art of the question.

You’ll also hear from a listener who wonders if it’s OK to date someone he hooked up with from an app. Have you ever wondered if it is OK to ask a person you’ve messed around with on a date? Episode sponsored by Better Help.

Take Aways from Show

  • How to use a metaphor for changing “It’s always been this way” mindset.
  • How to reframe questions using the word “What” to move to a place of action and change with intimacy.
  • A client case presentation that employed the suggestions made on the podcast.
  • Setting healthy expectations for dating in an app-driven world.

Resources/Articles Mentioned in Show




Hello, and welcome – or welcome back – to episode 32 of The Men’s Self-Help Podcast. I’m your host, Dr. John Moore and before we get too far in, I just want to say that today’s show touches on physical intimacy.

I’m sharing this with you just in case you need some privacy – if you follow my drift.

OK with that said, I realize that some of you may be some first-time listeners, and so I want to give you a quick overview about me and why this podcast exists.

The long and the short of it is I’m a licensed psychotherapist, out of Chicago, Illinois and I’ve been involved with counseling and teaching in some form or another for nearly 20 years.

People often ask me why I started this show and maybe you are listening now, you are too?

Well, here’s the answer. I created this podcast because I wanted to move beyond the walls of my private practice and reach three specific groups of men.

The first are guys who are all about health and wellness and are drawn to the wholistic.

So that’s group one.

Group two are men who may be struggling with some type of issue in the here and now – or perhaps in the past. Examples include depression, anxiety, or a relationship problem. Things like that – and so by tuning in, they get an idea of what it might be like to work with a counselor.

So that’s group two, which brings us to group three.

Haha Ok, group three – these are stoic my types. I’m talking about guys who are just never, ever, going come knocking on the door of someone like me, a therapist – to reveal personal things going on in their life. To them, I’m about as popular as a thunderstorm at a summer picnic – know what I mean – but – some of these same men might be curious enough to tap on an app and listen to a show that relates to something going on in their life.

Related: Does erotic hypnosis work?

Here’s the thing: Regardless of which group you belong to – I want you to know that I’m delighted you are here – and I really mean that.

And by the by – Are you a woman listening today? If so, welcome aboard! The truth is a lot of women hit that follow button because they’re hoping to gain new insights. So, once again, welcome!

Now quick disclaimer all – this podcast isn’t designed to act as a substitute for mental health counseling or medical advice and I am not your personal therapist.

OK, let’s slide into today’s topic: What to do if your partner never initiates sex.

For real – what can you do? As I ask that question, I can’t help but wonder how many of you may be struggling with this problem right now?

Well, to get to the answers, I’m going to share with you the story of Davis, a patient I helped several years with this exact problem. I’ll also walk you through 5 things he did to generate meaningful change.

So, we’ll chat about that.

And as part of today’s show, which is being sponsored by Better Help, we’ll also explore a listener email from a guy who is conflicted about wanting to date someone he met on a hook up.

As you can tell – we have a full plate today. So go ahead and strap yourself in. I’m super glad you are here!


So, the other day – when I was at the gym – I ran into a guy named Shawn. He’s what you’d call a regular – one of those dudes who reliably shows up, day after day, week after week.

I can’t say that’s always been the case for me, but I digress.

At any rate, I’m sharing this with you because when I bumped into him, I noticed that he was carrying one of them big, one-gallon jugs of water.

After we said our hello’s, I got kind of nosey and said, “Hey Shawn – that’s a lot of water – do you try to drink that much every day?”

He chuckled for a moment and said back, “For the most part, yeah – at least I try to. But then he said, “Is this the first time you you’ve seen me with this old thing? I bring it every day. It’s always been this way.”

It was that last thing that he said that stayed with me.

It’s always been this way.

As I think about it now, he was right. For as long as I can remember, he had been lugging around that jug. In fact, it had become a kind of appendage.

But for whatever reason, I hadn’t really noticed it until that day.

In so many ways, sex can be like that old jug. In other words, as time passes, things can become so routine that before you know it, you’ve landed in a place called: It’s always been this way.

Now don’t get me wrong. Routines can be a good thing. I mean they keep you on track to your goals and create a sense of familiarity. But when it comes to intimacy, sometimes small changes can be good. Know what I mean?

Are you in a relationship right now with someone where the only way sex happens – ever – is if you initiate? Is there a part of you who would like your mate to get the ball rolling – at least occasionally?

Well, if you can relate, I’d like to share with you the story of Davis. He was a client that I worked with a few years back. At the time, he was in his late thirties and had been married to his wife for around 10 years.

His reasons for seeking out counseling were all about this issue of intimacy in the bedroom.

As we got to talking and he started opening up, Davis shared with me that he loved his wife very much – but had worries she didn’t feel the same. And so I asked him:

“Why do you think this has been happening Davis? I asked.

I’ll never forget how him sitting on my couch, shaking his head back and forth and saying, “Man – I don’t know. I wish I knew. It’s always been this way.”

As our conversation continued, Davis went on to reveal several of his deeply held fears – things like his wife not loving him anymore or that she didn’t find him attractive.

“I think one day she’s just going to pack up and leave Dr. John”, he said in that first session – wringing his hands with worry.

Now here’s the thing folks – There was no real evidence to support what this young man was thinking. The truth was that in every way that mattered, his wife was showing up to the marriage – including the bedroom. But because of Davis’s irrational thinking, it caused him to awfulize.

Some of you listening may be wondering what on earth that term means?

Well, I’m gonna tell ya. Awfulizing is when a person adopts an irrational mindset and predicts the most negative, catastrophic outcome for a circumstance – just like Davis was doing in my office. To his mind, his wife not initiating sex meant that she wasn’t into him into him and that there relationship was in trouble.

Again, this wasn’t actually the case – but that’s what he thought.

At any rate – my job was to help Davis shift his thinking – quickly.

To help facilitate change, I reached for two powerful interventions: One was cognitive behavior therapy – or CBT – and the other was mindfulness.

And so over a series of sessions, I had Davis focus on five difficult questions. I say difficult because all five required that he look inward for answers, as opposed to the external.

All of these questions were based off an article I wrote on this very topic back in 2017, which you can find on the Guy Counseling blog. I’ve linked to it in show notes.

OK, so the first thing we did were some mind-clearing exercises. This involved several deep breathing exercises, mixed in with guided imagery.

In this way, Davis was better able to dial down his anxiety and switch mental channels from a place of fear to calm.

Once we were done, I handed him a pen and paper and asked him to focus in on those questions. Would you like to hear them? [laugh].

OK, here’s the first one:

1 What could be different?

Notice I used that term what and not why. The reason I did this was simple. What gets down to the specifics. What implies action. What quantifies and opens the door to change.

On the other hand, why questions do nothing but lead to more questions that are often riddled with irrational outcomes.

Examples: Why is it on me to initiate? Why isn’t she into me? Why doesn’t she find me attractive? See what I’m talking about?

And so, in asking Davis what could be different, his thinking experienced a shift.

Here’s some things Davis came up with and wrote down, using what at the start of each:

  • What would it be like if I told my wife I’d like her to initiate?
  • What is one thing we could be doing different that we aren’t doing now?
  • What would I like our sex-life to look like?

And so that was question one. Here’s the second one I asked him:

2 What are her assumptions?  

In simple-speak, I was basically trying to get Davis to put on his critical thinking cap to reach a place of insight.

With a little help, here’s what he came up with:

  • What is my wife’s relationship history? Did that history include a situation that when she tried to initiate, she was shot down?
  • What am I vibing out – through the spoken word or body language, that sends the signal it’s not OK to initiate?
  • What cultural factors may be at play from her background that relate to male and female roles?
  • What assumptions does she have about what I like sexually? Are those assumptions accurate? If they aren’t, what is it she needs to know?

OK, so that’s question two. Here’s the third question I asked him:

3 What are my patterns?

And for this one, the idea was to get Davis to think about their current intimacy setup. The idea here was to rocket him away from: “It’s always been this way” and onto new turf.

So, here’s essentially what he wrote down:

  • What has been our routine?
  • What has reinforced our routine?
  • What can I do to create new patterns?

Alright that was three. The fourth question I asked Davis was:

4 What is my definition of sex?

Now folks, this is a clean podcast, so I am not going to go into detail here, but I will tell you that later on, Davis revealed to me that his definition of sex was vastly different from his wife’s.

And so along these lines, here’s what he jotted down:

  • What is my wife’s definition of intimacy?
  • What would it be like to experience sex in different ways?
  • What does my wife think my definition of sex is?

So, that was question four. And here’s the fifth question I asked:

5 What am I communicating – or not communicating?

This final one may sound obvious – but it needed to be asked all the same. Here’s what he reflected on and then wrote down:

  • What message have I been sending in the bedroom?
  • What if I tried vibing out something different?
  • What if I simply told my wife that her initiating sex from time to time helped me to feel wanted physically and emotionally?

There you have it folks – those were the five questions. You may be wondering what happened?

So, here’s the full-on truth. I’m not going to tell you that there was some kind of Disney ending here, replete with rainbows and magical unicorns. It never works out that way.

The reality is Davis ended up working on those questions – those solutions – for many weeks in therapy. And in between our meetings, he used those questions as homework.

But I can tell you this: By allowing himself to be emotionally vulnerable, things did – gradually – change for the better.

Part of his solution meant approaching sex more mindfully; something I covered in detail back in episode 27. I encourage you to check it out.

And I need to say now that his entire journey took a great deal of courage. Talking about things like emotions, intimacy and sex isn’t easy for a lot of people – particularly men – at least in my experience.

So, it’s like this. If you want to end the cycle of always being the initiator, get working on those what questions. And then take the answers to those questions and get to the doing part. Be open seeing things you hadn’t noticed before – like that one-gallon jug I talked about earlier.

In Davis’s case, his questions led him to have deeper, more meaning discussions with his wife about intimacy. After he worked up the courage, he straight out told her that he wanted her to initiate from time to time because it demonstrated she was into him.

And through dialogue with his wife, he learned that sometimes, he unintentionally sent out a message that he wasn’t interested in sex, even though it wasn’t true.

Finally, Davis learned that because of his wife’s background, she feared making the first move due to deeply held fears of rejection.

But you see, none of the changes would have been possible had Davis not had the courage to look inward and get real with those what questions.

Make sense?

I’d like to recommend a book to you that may help you with communicating with your partner. It very much relates to what we’ve explored here and is a great tool for generating insight. It’s called the Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. I’ve linked to it in Show Notes for you to check out.

Alight, let’s recap the five questions we explored before moving to the next block. And again, these are in show notes on the Guy Counseling blog. Ready?

1 What could be different?

2 What’s your partner’s assumptions?

3 What are your patterns?

4 What is your definition of sex?

5 What are you communicating?

I hope that you use what we’ve talked about here to generate change.

Now before we get to this week’s listener email, I’m going to share with you a very special offer from Better Help. I’ll meet you on the other side.


Promotion for listeners to the Men’s Self Help Podcast using this special link to get 10% off the first month of counseling services.


This week’s listener email comes to us from a man in living in New York. His dilemma is interesting yet relevant at the same time. And so, I’m just going to jump right in and read to you what he sent to me – and then share the essence of my response.

Are you ready? Here we go:

What’s up Dr. John? I love the podcast and have been encouraging my buddies to subscribe. That one you did on erotic hypnosis was super cool.

So, here’s my issue. I recently met someone on a hook up app for a little fun – if you know what I mean. And the thing is, that is exactly what we did – we hooked up.

But after we were done with our thing, I started thinking of this person. It just felt like we had a connection. There’s a part of me who wants to make contact again, but this time to ask for a date.

Is it wrong to date a hook up? Am I messed up?

Oh, and by the way – it’s cool to share this on your show.


Stetson – (28)

OK, so that is what’s this young feller wrote me. So, what do you think? Is it OK to date someone you hooked up with? Well, here’s what I wrote back – essentially:

Hi, Stetson,

Thanks so much for your note and for being a fan of the show. It means a great deal to me that you are sharing the podcast with your buds.

Let me address your question directly by saying this: Yes, it is OK. What’s wrong with that? The best approach is likely the direct one – meaning you simply reach out and are clear about your intentions. I know with that many of the patients I work with, being direct has worked out well.

Now here is the thing – and I don’t mean to burst your bubble – it is entirely possible this person you hooked up with simply wanted to experience you physically. In other words, sometimes people go on those apps to get certain needs met.

And I’m saying all of this because we have to allow for the possibility that you may get shot down because that’s not what they are looking for. And can I level with you – while hook up apps and dating often blur the lines, hook up apps can often be singular in focus.

And so yes Stetson, it’s OK to reach out and see what happens. There’s no shame in asking someone you hooked up with for a date. The absolute worse thing that could happen is you get a no back. That may not be what you want to hear – but at least you will have tried. Write back and let us know how it turned out.

Once again, thanks for listening!

So, there is my response. Some of you may disagree with what I said, and I certainly respect that. But the way I see things, romantic connections can happen in many different ways and in many different places.

Have you ever wanted to date a hook up? If you didn’t, what was the one thing that held you back?


Thank you so much for being here today – for the thirty second episode of The Men’s Self-Help Podcast. I’m very honored truly. And we covered a lot in today’s show, don’t you think?

We explored the issue of having a partner who never initiates sex and then discussed how using questions that begin with the word “what” can help to create change. And if that wasn’t enough, we heard from a young listener who needed guidance on the issue of hook ups and dating. Haha.

I’d like to invite you to follow me on social media, particularly on Instagram. In the month of August, I am vowing to post one thing a day, everyday – that somehow relates to health and wellness.

You may see a meme or a quote or some random picture of me to show my goofiness. You can find me at Instagram by simply inputting: Guy Counseling.

And for those of you on Facebook or Twitter, I’m at the same handle – Guy Counseling.

Did you know I have a website? Yep, I do, Can you guess the website address? Haha – yep, it’s On my site, you’ll find information about my book: Confusing Love with Obsession. You’ll also be able to sign up for my mailing list on the site as a way of keeping in touch. Now here’s the deal, I don’t send out emails often – perhaps once a week – and whatever I send will be short and sweet, like a heads up about an article or podcast.

And for those of you who would like to contact me personally, I’m just an email away. My email is: [given on show] . I promise anything you send will remain confidential – I won’t share it with anyone unless you give me permission. I’d love to hear your show ideas for the future – and any feedback you might have. It just means so much to me. Now keep in mind that I still see patients every week, plus teach college courses – so it may take me a day or so to write you back – but rest assured I will.

People often ask me how I can help this podcast grow – and I’ll tell you what I tell them – simply hit the follow or subscribe button, wherever you listen. Apparently, the more folks who subscribe, this shows up in the listings.

Let me also say now – thank you for all of the ratings and reviews! I recently passed 100 of them on Apple Podcasts, which just blows me away. I’ve very hard not to get caught up in those numbers, but they do mean that listeners like you are encouraging me to continue. And I love doing this podcast. So, I hope you’ll leave a rating, particularly a written review, because helps me see your feedback.

Well, there you have it – another show. Thank you to Better Help for sponsoring this episode – and to Joel – my sound engineer, with East Coast Studio.

Give yourself permission to look inward. Switch out why questions and replace them with what. Remember, thoughts are not facts.

Take very good care. I’m Dr. John and this has been another episode of the Men’s Self-Help Podcast.

About John D. Moore 391 Articles
Dr. John Moore is a licensed counselor and Editor-in-Chief of Guy Counseling. A journalist and blogger, he writes about a variety of topics related to wellness. His interests include technology, outdoor activities, science, and men's health. Check out his show --> The Men's Self Help Podcast