Is It Normal If One Partner Always Initiates Sex? Experts Warn It Can Lead To Resentment
In your relationship, who is the one to typically initiate sex? Whether or not you take turns making the first move, or one of you is the de facto adult fun-times initiator, you might wonder: Is it normal if one partner always initiates sex? And, if that's the case, what does that say about your relationship? The reality is that every relationship is different, and no matter who initiates sex the most, there is no "wrong" way to go about it. It really just depends on how everyone feels about the arrangement. The trick is to have open and healthy communication around the subject of sex (Shocking! I know), and that, unfortunately, is where things can start getting a little tricky. It's not always easy to speak up and be vulnerable if you are frequently the initiator and possibly starting to feel rejected. Conversely, if your partner takes the lead in that department, you may not even realize how they are really feeling about things.
To help get to the bottom of this all-too-common dynamic, Elite Daily turned to the experts: Kelley Kitley, psychotherapist and licensed clinical social worker, and Kayla Lords, a writer and sexpert for Jack and Jill Adult, who shared their takes on if one partner initiating more — or even all the time — is normal, and, if not, what to do about it. Here is what they had to say.
It’s common for one partner to initiate more than the other.
If, in your relationship, one of you is more likely to kick things off in the bedroom, you’re definitely not alone. “There is usually one person in the relationship who is more of the sex initiator in a relationship,” Kitley previously assured Elite Daily. What that typically means, said Kitley, is that sex is more important for the more frequent initiator. “It means it’s a priority,” said Kitley “I don’t think it’s a negative unless the initiator uses the behavior as controlling" or if they're "using pressure for their partner to engage. Most couples have different levels of sex drives and it’s important to honor both and meet some place in the middle.”
Lords added that it could also just be a case of one partner being more comfortable about expressing their desire or that they have a higher sex drive in general. “This doesn't mean [the partner not initiating sex doesn’t] want you, only that your desire for sex is easier to express than it is for your partner,” Lords previously explained to Elite Daily
How this can create problems in the relationship.
While there is nothing inherently wrong with one person pursuing sex more than the other, it can create problems and resentment over time, warned Kitley. “It’s OK to have this role, however if the initiator is constantly being rejected, it could cause problems within the dynamic of the relationship,” she said. But while it may be uncomfortable, particularly if these feelings of rejection make one or both of you feel vulnerable, Lords sees this as an opportunity rather than just a problem. “It can also be a starting point for a conversation to discuss how you both want sex to work in your relationship,” she explained.
How to address the issue — if there is one.
This all leads us back to having healthy, open lines of communication in your relationship, because, like any other issues that may come along over the course of your romance, you need to be able to address it, discuss it, and come to a compromise if you hope to go the distance together. So, if the imbalance in initiation is becoming an issue in your relationship, Lords said it’s time to have a talk. “It could mean you need to have a serious discussion about what you both want and how much sex is desired by both of you,” she explained. “Your partner could see your role as the one to pursue them, instead of realizing that they can (and possibly should) initiate sex as well.”
Kitley agreed. “When I’m working with couples we always talk about who the initiator tends to be and practice both people taking turns initiating sex,” she said. “The identified initiator often reports it feels nice to be desired when their partner takes on that role.“
The takeaway here is that the “normal” or “right” way to handle who initiates sex is what works best for the two of you. If you are both happy with the arrangement, then don’t overthink it. However, that only works if the lines of communication stay open so that, if that ever changes, you can work together to find a new “normal” that everyone is happy with moving forward. If you’re still nervous about having the talk, don’t be. You got this.