The “Why” of Fear of Initiation

Last month, I started a thread titled The “Why” of a DW’s Submissiveness. It seemed a thread of some interest, at least IMNSHO, and was at least partially responsible for spawning some spin-offs (such as doormats, what submission looks like, and boundaries). That was just one of several “why” questions I have, and a post earlier today made me think it was time to ask another one.

So today we’ll be somewhat flipping the target of my first “Why” question and ask: Why do you and/or your spouse fear initiating sex? This was specifically brought to the forefront of my mind because of the Did you guys see the Love Sync on shark tank? thread, where people seem to be profiting from this phenomenon by selling something to potentially avoid rejection damage. And I still think back to the Question for Guys about Initiation thread, where DG indicated how tough it was to initiate and the response from guys was “yes, please initiate more!”

Unlike the Submissiveness question, I do have much personal experience in this area, but I will wait to answer in depth after seeing some other responses. What I will say is that I have some serious fear in this area, and my #1 sexual “New Year’s Resolution” was to initiate more and with greater confidence. Oh, and I’ve also told Zelda (my DW) that I will never turn her down if/when she initiates, as I’m guessing some spouses here have also.

I’d like to welcome the full gamut of answers on this thread, with some possibilities being:

  • Personal feelings
  • Biblical references and reasoning
  • The “why” for people who do not have this fear
  • Ideas from the spouses of those who fear (especially for those who say “I’ll never say no”)
  • Links to articles/commentary on this topic
  • Examples you think were fundamental in driving this fear (e.g. a horrible rejection)
  • Examples where this fear was unfounded and you were “rewarded” for getting past it
  • Ways to help yourself get past this fear

Looking forward to a good discussion!


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17 Answer(s)

    It would seem to me that the fear of rejection would be a major reason for many people to be hesitant or afraid of initiating. Another concern would be straining an already strained marital-bed relationship.

    I remember someone on the old board saying something like this: I’d rather not ask for such and such because if I don’t ask (because most assuredly I would be rejected) I still have the pleasure of the “dream” of it happening someday.

    Under the stars Answered on January 13, 2020.
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      I probably fear how I will internalize her lackluster reaction. My wife is LD/responsive only but willing to accommodate me so I get a lot of duty/mostly for me sex. I know she is doing this out of love and I now understand how responsive desire works. But just because I understand it, doesn’t mean I like it. 🙂 Responsive desire combined with LD and a general lack of enthusiasm can leave the other spouse feeling unloved, lonely, unfulfilled, create a lack of confidence, lack intimacy, and cause you to put up walls in the relationship.
      So I can know I’m usually going to get a yes but still fear initiation because I know it’s not going to be the sex I want. I fully understand that much of this is on me, but feelings are sometimes tough to change.

      Hammock Answered on January 13, 2020.
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        My fear of initiation is this….for several years, I was a gatekeeper, and it was thro several of our roughest years, all of which were outside forces, but eventually greatly affected our marriage. We no longer stood united and I became a gatekeeper.

        Now, awhile ago, we went through some stressful stuff, and DH wasn’t very interested in sex. So, because I know how badly I felt when he wanted sex thro those dark years, I am super cautious about initiating outright. We have discussed this and he feels bad of how he lacked understanding, etc, and just always wanted sex. So, we have both walked in each other’s shoes, and for quite awhile, we just went in circles because of the above. I was trying to do my part in initiating, because we hear men like it when their wives do. However, for awhile, I mostly succeeded in ticking my DH off. And add in there that the male and female brains are entirely different!

        Things are much better nowadays, but I think I need to approach sex more from the angle that I really need him now, or tonight, versus saying that tonight we really need to do something, or tomorrow.

        I have a responsive desire only, and I suspect DH has gotten that way, a bit too, in the last year. Stress just really can knock a person down.

        Blanket on a secluded beach! Answered on January 13, 2020.
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          Being the HD spouse for the majority of our marriage, I did have a fear of rejection, even though realistically it probably only happened 25% of the time. But that 25% hurt and was magnified in my mind. I even remember specific instances of rejection from 20 years ago.

          What helped us was to be offered a rain check that was not vague, as in “Tonight is not good because of X, but I will for sure be ready and willing tomorrow morning.” That way it didn’t seem like a personal rejection because there was a valid reason for not having sex, plus a willingness and desire to want to ASAP.

          Fell out of ... Answered on January 13, 2020.
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            Previous wife/marriage, she was a rejector and gatekeeper and it was painful…so every now and again, a ghost from the past enters into play for fear of rejection. Current wife has nearly always said, yes (99.5% of the time?)…but I fear more the timing and how tired she is and wanting to respect her physical strength, even though I know she’d lovingly oblige and participate,  WITHOUT making me feel like a jack wagon or like it was pity or duty sex. She’s the best!

            On the floor Answered on January 13, 2020.

            Now this is a man who feels uxorious about his wife! 😉

            on January 17, 2020.
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              I have tried to be more bold about initiating since the Question for Guys About Initiating thread. You spoke, I listened. I’m still not at the point where I can do it a lot, though.

              I think I’m over the fear of rejection. I know if he can’t, then there is a very good reason. 95% of the time, he’s quite happy to oblige.

              I do have concerns about bothering him. Part of me thinks that if he wanted sex, he’d ask for it. Rationally, I know that’s lazy of me. He was the only one who initiated for so long that I just assume I shouldn’t. However, that’s putting all the responsibility on him. It’s unfair for me to do that. He’s an adult. He can say no if he absolutely needs to. I need to honor him by at least giving him the opportunity.

              Lastly, there’s the desire issue for me. Yesterday I initiated because it had been a few days. I had a rough week last week, I was exhausted, and he blessedly let me go to sleep earlier all week. But I was getting a sense that he was afraid to ask, even after I’d caught up with my sleep on the weekend. I initiated, but it was tough because I had zero desire. It was wholly selfless on my part… although responsive desire did kick in.

              I feel that this board is causing me to try to read him better. I’m learning to see when he is afraid to I initiate. But goodness, it’s difficult to initiate sex when you don’t have desire and just have to trust that it will show up late to the party. I am grateful because he took it slowly, allowing my desire to make an appearance before we progressed beyond kissing. I made myself vulnerable in initiating, and he reciprocated by giving me the time I needed before I had to increase my vulnerability. It was selfless on both our parts, and it became memorable as a result.

              Blanket on a secluded beach! Answered on January 13, 2020.
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                Just some initial thoughts…. first, I have no fear in initiating because I know my husband would jump at any opportunity, no matter the circumstances. But I will admit, if I didn’t have that certainty, I probably wouldn’t even take the direct risk, there would be “testing of the waters”, to see if it’s worth the push or not.

                I do know from our experience, that the LrD spouse can alleviate fears by reassuring there will be no rejection (“no”). I also found that for us, there really became very little need for initiation the majority of the time, because sex just became expected and assumed when we went to bed.

                With that dynamic there are downfalls to watch out for and to guard against, but that’s straying from the topic. 🙂

                Under the stars Answered on January 13, 2020.

                Might be a little too early to start a spin-off thread this time! Maybe tomorrow. 😉

                on January 13, 2020.
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                  I think my biggest fear for initiating is rejection. It happens more often than I’d like, and I pray for a day when she wants to say yes more often.

                  On the floor Answered on January 13, 2020.
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                    I’m a woman and rarely initiate even if i’m in the  mood (don’t know why but it could be because of my husbands health and our finances and he only has so much energy which isn’t much these days so i give him grace) but that would probably be the #1 reason to not initiate is embarrassement from being refused.

                    On the floor Answered on January 13, 2020.
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                      Thank you all for answering. To sum up your answers:

                      Reasons for Fearing Initiating

                      1. Fear of rejection
                      2. Don’t want to further strain an already strained relationship
                      3. Don’t want to shoot down the “dream” of certain possible scenarios
                      4. You know the feeling of being asked when you’re not interested
                      5. Fear a lackluster reaction (getting only duty sex aka “not the sex I want”)
                      6. Memories/ghosts from the past
                      7. Concerned on timing/how tired your spouse is
                      8. The thought “if they wanted sex, they’d ask for it”
                      9. You have responsive desire and it’s a leap to initiate when you’re not yet desiring and don’t know if/when it’ll kick in
                      10. Would be embarrassed if they refused


                      Ways to Alleviate Fears

                      1. Spouse being asked gives rain checks instead of a “no”
                      2. Go with a “no rejection” policy
                      3. Get to the point where sex is just expected


                      I think I agree with many of these. #7 in particular really stands out, as I really think as a husband that I have to balance so many things, including both parents’ tiredness as well as our marital connection. I just don’t want my “greediness” to upset the balance of our family. Beyond that, I don’t think I have much to add to the initiating fears.

                      For ways to alleviate fears, it’s been mentioned here before, but getting used to asking with the “are you willing” instead of “do you want to” seems to help…still doesn’t make a lot of sense to me logically, but the better success rate with that approach helps. And we haven’t done this, but scheduling works for a lot of people (also mentioned at TMB in multiple places). Another one is to make sure the person being asked has a good time–a better time means they enjoy it more and will remove any guilt over being selfish/greedy. Finally, making sure not to take it as a personal rejection of me (and my penis) certainly helps, even if it’s hard to get into that mindset.

                      Thanks again everyone, and if you have more things to add, please do!


                      On the floor Answered on January 15, 2020.

                      Scott I appreciate your comments following my initial response.   I have one additional comment on your summary. You said not to take rejection personally. How do you do that?  I think of it in reference to an old gangster movie I once saw. Just prior to killing his brother, the killer said “don’t take this personally, this is just business”. Then he pulled the trigger. Seems kinda personal to me. Equate that with rejection.

                      on January 17, 2020.
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