When Your Partner Isn't Initiating

When I work with couples, I often hear one partner complain about what the other partner isn't doing. They're not initiating date night, not starting a conversation or not making the first move to be physically intimate.  When these don’t happen, the partner doing most or all of the initiating ends up feeling resentful. And often the partner is also not feeling supported, loved or hopeful. So what's a partner to do?

  • Take responsibility for feeling resentful and move into compassion for your deeper feelings that might include helplessness over your partner’s inaction, loneliness from the lack of teamwork and heartbreak due to not feeling cared for. 
  • Use ‘I’ statements: “When I have to plan our entire vacation, I feel overwhelmed.”
  • Don’t take your partner’s behavior personally.  Instead, move into an intention to learn and ask, “Why aren’t you initiating?” The answer may surprise you.
  • Set a boundary–only initiate what YOU want to do.
  • Help your partner identify areas where he/she successfully initiates and encourage your partner to bring this skill to the relationship.
  • Identify activities you both want to do. Divide up the tasks involved in making the activities happen.
  • Accept your partner’s decision to not initiate certain activities and identify other ways your partner does or can contribute so that your relationship feels balanced.  

You don’t have control over getting your partner to initiate. But you can control your own behavior. By taking personal responsibility and showing up in positive ways for yourself, you allow space and freedom for your partner to make his or her own choices. This freedom creates opportunities for your partner to play a more proactive role in your relationship.