what to do when your partner doesn't want to be intimate

What to Do When Your Partner Doesn’t Want to Be Intimate: 7 Powerful Questions to Ask

If you find yourself asking “what to do when your partner doesn’t want to be intimate” you may feel frustrated and even alone in wanting to solve the “problem.” While it might feel lonely, asking the question puts you into a powerful place. It’s not a power to get “your way”. It’s not a power to solve a problem. You have a power to consciously, even masterfully, influence your relationship in the direction of intimacy – all kinds of intimacy.

While what causes couples to stop making love or sharing physical intimacy vary greatly, our workshop and program participants consistently reveal that the reasons sexual interactions fade share a few very common themes. Below we’ll walk you through 7 powerful questions to ask yourself about you, your partner, and your relationship. 

The questions to ask yourself when you’re partner doesn’t want to be intimate

Each of the following questions invites you to consider and potentially uncover the often hidden relationship patterns and dynamics that dampen, or even turn off, sexual attraction. As you explore the questions, be sure to actively consider your part in the dynamic. Most people find it easier (and more comfortable) to believe that the sexual “issue” lies in the person with the low or lacking desire. This is rarely the case. It “takes two to tango,” as they say, and this couldn’t be more relevant and true when it comes to sexual attraction, desire, and availability.

So, look first at your side of the physical intimacy dynamic, then at the relational interplay between you and your partner. Then, and only then, is it time to look at your partner’s part in the situation. Blame can feel easier but it will never reunite you. You will be much more likely to reignite genuine sexual attraction through your authentic humility and real thoughtfulness. 

That’s a tall order for many, but if you have the courage to be honest with yourself and your partner, much can change – for the better – for both of you.

You’re invited to contemplate these questions to reveal real answers to the question about what to do when your partner doesn’t want to be intimate with you. 

1)  Are your partner’s needs being met in the relationship?

It’s easy to see when your needs aren’t being met. It’s harder to see and admit when you might not be meeting your partner’s needs. Yet, unmet needs are one of the most common reasons a partner loses interest in physical intimacy.  While self-abandonment never solves anything, the capacity to see things from your partner’s point of view can change a lot. 

On top of that, if your relationship has a masculine feminine dynamic, the needs of the masculine partner are totally different than the needs of the feminine partner. If you’re trying to give your partner what you need and desire, you may actually be pushing them away – even turning them off. If you don’t know your partner’s true needs, and if they are fulfilled, this is a good time to find out

2) Is there a life situation / stress impacting desire?

One of the least concerning, yet truly common, reasons a partner doesn’t want to be intimate arises as a result of passing life situations. Passing here is a relative term. It could mean a matter of days, and sometimes it’s truly a matter of years. Consider, is your partner under a lot of stress? Is their to-do list overflowing? Is illness, pain, or menopause at play?

If you love a feminine partner who happens to feel overworked or overwhelmed with life, their sexual libido will quite naturally go to zero. Sex becomes another chore for the feminine. This is not wrong or weird, yet masculine Partners will likely have difficulty understanding this because it is not their usual experience. It is however normal for an exhausted feminine being. The best thing a partner can do in this case is help reduce her overload and create spaces for her sustained restoration. Then sexual desire may well return effortlessly.

3) Is there polarity in your relationship?

Sexual attraction relies on the presence of polarity or, in other words, on the presence of opposite energies. In romantic relationships, the spark of attraction arises from the different energies of the two beings. For most men, there is a natural, although not always expressed, predominance of masculine energy. For most women, there is a natural predominance of feminine energy although, again, this can often be buried or repressed. Sometimes these sexual energies express opposite to gender. For some masculine and feminine energies are truly balanced. 

Unfortunately, while much of society today wants to tell us we should all be equally balanced in masculine and feminine energies within us, this “neutralization” of our sexual essence energy, is the reason so many relationships find themselves in the friend zone. 

4) Do you understand your partner sexually?

Similar to the question above on understanding your partner’s needs, when sexual interest fades in our partner, we have to ask ourselves if we understand their true needs, wants, desires, turn-ons, turn-offs, and even boundaries when it comes to physical intimacy? Again, masculine and feminine beings engage with and express their sexuality very differently and most miss this important fact. 

Unfortunately, our tendency as humans is to approach our partner in ways we want to be approached. We often pleasure in the way we want to be pleasured. We expect that our partners to respond in the ways we respond, to get aroused in the ways we get aroused. This approach leads down a painful road for couples with masculine feminine energy dynamics. When a partner, whether predominately masculine or feminine, feels unseen, not truly known, or has tolerated “ok” intimacy for long enough, they eventually just lose interest. Again, this could be a good time to ask yourself if you really know your partner’s true sexual makeup.  

5)  What incomplete upsets do you have?

Next, as we explore what to do when your partner doesn’t want to be intimate, we have to consider how the two of you resolve conflicts, or not. The number one reason that couples stop having sex, especially in relationships where one partner is more feminine, is because they don’t know how to have an upset and truly resolve it for both people

Men and women argue differently. They need different things to end an upset and due to this misunderstanding and lack of skill, unspoken hurts, unresolved upsets, and misunderstandings will erect an invisible, yet immensely strong, wall between two people. The sexual energy won’t find its way through, particularly for the feminine. 

The feminine needs to feel seen and connected in order to feel genuine sexual arousal. And, she can’t feel connection when she feels misunderstood or stalled in an argument. When couples learn how to navigate upsets consciously and, for those that have been together a long time, learn how to release the buried hurts and resentments, then sexual energy quite often magically returns. If we’re really honest, the fear of looking at the upsets combined with not yet having confidence to masterfully navigate them, is why the time between sex gets longer and longer. 

6) Are you and your partner sharing other forms of intimacy besides sexual intimacy?

To enjoy a deep sustained passionate relationship a couple must practice and integrate several of the various types of intimacy. Imagining that you can sustain sexual desire in the absence of these other forms of intimacy will again set a couple up for heartache, distance, and even mistrust. Some people gravitate towards certain types of intimacy while others prefer different expressions of intimacy. Once again, this will often vary greatly depending on whether masculine or feminine energy is predominant in the person. While you may not want to hear this, we’re being honest here. If there is a feminine partner in the relationship, then great physical intimacy depends on your capacity for emotional intimacy.

7) Is your heart in it?

Again, strongly correlated with the previous question about types of intimacy, the greatest sexual pleasures in a long term relationship arise when heart and sex unite. Bringing true love to the bedroom, to physical intimacy, is where the term lovemaking comes from. Yet many don’t truly understand the difference between making love and having sex and this creates problems for many long term couples. 

While new couples, filled with hormones to build connection coupled with the excitement of newness, can experience great sexual pleasure without having yet built a deep loving bond, the longer they stay together, the more important the heart becomes. In relationships that have moved beyond the “honeymoon phase” heart and sex must meet. This meeting of the hearts and bodies opens the door to true “best evers”. Without love, your physical intimacy in a long term relationship or marriage will be mediocre at best. 

Now what?

Now that hopefully you have begun an honest evaluation of your relationship dynamics, you have a better idea of what to do when your partner doesn’t want to be intimate. You may have a sense of where some of your sexual disconnect arises from. This is a powerful moment. 

Right now you have a choice. You can be humble and courageous. Or you can stay comfortable, not rock the boat, and continue to watch your physical connection fade. The later option can truly feel like the easier path. And most choose it. It’s been said that couples wait an average of seven years after they could truly benefit from outside support, before they actually reach out. 

More importantly, in some couples one person wants change more than the other. Because many falsely assume that if their partner won’t learn something new, won’t talk about it, won’t seek help, won’t read a book or take a workshop, that the situation is hopeless. This is another reason couples stay stuck and get more distant over time. 

The good news is that only one person needs to seek answers and change. When one partner grows, the relationship will naturally and automatically grow as well. You can begin to shift your intimate connection for the better. Yes, you. 

Will you have the potentially uncomfortable conversations? Will you stop and look at how you’ve contributed to your current sexual dynamic? Will you work to understand your partner more deeply? Will you reach out to learn more? 

What you choose matters to you, your partner, and the future of your relationship. 

*At Ecstatic Intimacy, an all-inclusive website for singles and couples, we welcome all sexual orientation(s), gender(s) and relationship expressions. In this article we utilize the pronouns he/she/him/her.

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  1. Suzan on June 7, 2024 at 3:45 pm

    I won’t go into the whole ugly story, but, porn addiction absolutely ruined everything…turns out I had been lied to for 7 years. Covert narcissistic and very good at deception. I lost my daughter to suicide a year into our relationship. I was vulnerable and thought he was so great. I truly believe that a lot of men in middle age are addicted to porn but no one ever talks about it. His interest in sex and failure to perform became an issue which I asked and wanted to discuss…always his ex and past, we can work through this blah blah..Biggest clue for me was frequent migraines, weight gain and feeling like crap which I chalked up to menopause…he’s been gone for a year…no migraines, 30lbs gone and I am finally grieving and moving forward.

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