We have one big problem. My partner and I are both in our mid-20s and we’ve been together for 18 months. It is the first serious relationship for both of us. I love him very much but he doesn’t want to initiate sex! He says he “wants to be wanted” but so do I.
He’s a lovely, caring, clever man but I’m losing a bit of respect for him. I wonder if he’s missing the masculinity gene or has low testosterone.
He refuses to go to the doctor as he says he has plenty of interest in sex. What do we do? It’s both of your jobs to initiate sex. Wanting to be desired is the easy role; building the capacity to deeply desire a loved one and the courage to act on that desire is much harder. You’re describing something that plays out between lots of couples, sometimes with one grudgingly giving in and doing all the pursuing, which isn’t the best outcome as resentment will backfire at some point.
You’re in a heterosexual relationship so “femininity” and “masculinity” or whatever you like to call it comes into the desire and arousal picture, but in no way does this need to dictate your roles. You each get to express yourselves in your way.
It sounds like you’re both able to enjoy being seduced or taken, which is great. Now discuss how anxiety-provoking it is for each of you to set out to bust a move and then prepare together to move outside your comfort zone.
Identify what turns you on and gets you in the mood for sex and share this with your lover. Understand they also get a say in the matter, so each generates as long a list as possible. Don’t be rigid about what takes top place.
When your lover expresses healthy desire for you, you get instant validation. When you are the seducer you have to support and affirm yourself and you need to have ways to generate and harness your own desire to bring to the encounter.
You’ll both gain so much by stretching yourselves in this way, becoming comfortable with initiating and accepting. This is part of how you become an erotic adult.