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Cory Silverberg

Problems Initiating Sex

By April 23, 2012

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Last week I got an email from a reader who wanted help figuring out how to initiate sex with her boyfriend. She explained that he always starts things up and she felt bad about that. But her desire to make things a bit more equal in the relationship was coming into conflict with her own feelings of shame around sex, which makes it hard for her to imagine taking up sexual space in a way that would allow her to initiate sex.

There's a paradox (or maybe it's a riddle, or a conundrum, I'm not sure which) for people in long term relationships that I often encounter when I'm working with groups of them. If you talk to a group of couples who have been together for five years or more then tend to act as if they know everything about each other. Sex can become routine and both partners may be working under the assumption that it's routine because there's nothing left to discover.

But then get either partner on their own, and start asking them about what they ARE NOT saying or doing in the bedroom, and you invariably find a wealth of sexual curiosity and desire. The trick is bringing it into the room when both people are there and have the time and energy for sex.

One of the biggest obstacles I encounter in all of this are the number of stereotypes and expectations based on gender when it comes to who initiates sex. Challenging those is a life long endeavor, and one thing that helps is when folks actually hear from one another. It's one of the reasons I was so happy to get and publish this letter, as far too often what I hear is that one person initiates sex and they assume the other person just doesn't care. As opposed to thinking about why their partner might not be starting things up.

In responding to this reader I offered her a few ideas on how to get more comfortable initiating sex, and I thought I'd share with you too.

Read More: How to Initiate Sex

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Comments
May 6, 2012 at 11:48 pm
(1) Sexual Psychic says:

In giving psychic readings about sex and desire, I have spoken with numberous men who wish their wives would be more proactive and uninhibited sexually.

They dream of having both a “madonna” (esp as mother) and a “whore.” But they complain their partner just isn’t “slutty” enough.

I do not have the advantage of hearing their partners’ points of view. I do, however, have personal experience hating the word “slut” from my teens until my mid-30s. Even if I was fulfilling every definition of that word and my partner was delighted about it, still I did not want him to call me a “slut.”

It took many years of activism, therapy and healing to overcome my personal roots of my fear of the word. But it is not just a personal journey; it is indeed, as we used to say, also political.

Slut-shaming is alive and well in the American culture. As long as women are shamed for simply being fully sexual, and men are praised for getting as much sex as they can, then it will remain difficult for women to initiate sex.

Because after all, only sluts want sex enough to go after it.

Thank you for your article and your broader work.

– Sallie the Sexual Psychic

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