What to Do When Your Partner Doesn’t Want to Be Intimate (38 Tips)

There you are, sitting across from your partner, wondering when the gap between you got so wide. It feels like you’re on different islands now, huh? You might even be thinking, “This isn’t how it’s supposed to be.”

But wait, hold that thought. It’s not unusual for couples to hit a rough patch. You’re not the first and certainly not the last.

But don’t worry — I’m here to offer a guiding hand. In this article, we’ll look into some helpful ways to address this “space” and help you both find your way.

Table of Contents

Schedule a Quiet Time to Talk

When things get a bit chilly in the intimacy department, the first step is finding the right moment to talk about it. I can’t stress this enough: timing is key.

Choose a moment when you’re both free from distractions. Turn off the TV, put your phones on silent mode, and make sure you won’t be interrupted. Here are some things to consider:

  • It should be a time when neither of you is rushed or stressed.
  • Privacy is crucial. You don’t want to start this chat in a public place or when you’re expecting company.

Remember, this is about creating a safe space where you both feel comfortable to share your feelings and thoughts.

Be Open About Your Feelings

Once you’re all set with that quiet, distraction-free zone, it’s time to dive into your feelings. And I mean, really dive in. This is not the time to drop hints or try to read minds — let your partner know that you miss being close to them and that you want to understand what’s going on.

You can say:
“I’ve been feeling a little distant from you lately, and it’s been tough because I value our connection so much.”
“I miss how close we used to be—it’s something that really matters to me. Can we talk about what’s been going on?”

But hey, it’s not all about you. Ask your partner how they’re feeling, too. And here’s the crucial part: listen. Really listen. Not just nodding your head while planning what you’re going to say next.

Respect Your Partner’s Boundaries

Respecting boundaries is a sign of understanding and caring. When your partner says intimacy is off the table for now, it’s not a challenge for you to try and convince them otherwise. It’s a boundary you need to honor.

Let’s say your partner is not ready to be intimate. They might need space, or perhaps they’re dealing with personal issues. Ask them what kind of support they need from you. Do they need a listening ear? Some time to themselves?

By showing that you respect their needs, you build trust. It tells your partner you care about their comfort and well-being and not just about getting cozy under the sheets.

Remember: Don't push for intimacy; it won't work and will likely backfire.

Seek Professional Counseling

There’s absolutely no shame in asking for directions when you’re a bit lost, right? The same goes for navigating the twists and turns of a relationship. Seeking professional counseling can be a game-changer. Sometimes, what we need is a neutral third party who has the tools to help us find our way back to each other.

Why consider counseling?

  • A counselor can help you understand each other’s perspectives.
  • They have the tools to teach you communication strategies that really work.
  • They are pros in the field who can guide you through rough patches and give your relationship the tune-up it just might need.

Practice Patience and Understanding

Dealing with the highs and lows in a relationship requires high doses of patience and understanding. When your partner puts intimacy on the back burner, it can really affect you, but remember, it’s not a race to the finish line. Think of it more like a slow dance, where sometimes you need to follow rather than lead.

Consider this: Give your partner the time they need without pressuring them, and try to see things from their point of view. Also, acknowledge that some things in life just can’t be rushed.

It’s about respecting their feelings and timelines, not just yours. Understand that every person has their own way of dealing with things, and sometimes, the reasons behind a lack of intimacy can be complex and deeply rooted.

Address Health-Related Concerns

Let’s be honest: health issues can put a pause on anyone’s intimate life. If your partner isn’t feeling up to par, be it physically or mentally, intimacy can slide down their list of priorities, and that’s completely okay. It’s important to approach this topic with care and sensitivity.

But what can you do about health-related concerns?

  • Suggest a check-up with a healthcare provider if it seems necessary.
  • Be there for your partner and support them through any health journey.
  • Stay informed about how different health issues can affect intimacy.

Educate Yourself on Intimacy Issues

You know what they say — knowledge is power. When it comes to the delicate matter of intimacy, understanding the ins and outs can really put things into perspective. Take the time to learn about what can influence intimacy; emotional connections, stress levels, health concerns like I mentioned above, and even diet can play huge roles.

Here’s a little homework for you:

  • Read up on common intimacy issues and their causes.
  • Consider how mental health can impact your partner’s desire.
  • Look into how external stresses, like work or family, can affect your intimate life.

Becoming informed is about showing empathy and support by trying to truly understand what your partner might be going through.

Discuss Lifestyle Changes

Now, let’s talk about switching things up a bit in your day-to-day life. Sometimes, a few changes can make a big difference. Abuse of substances like alcohol, lack of sleep, or just being in a rut can mess with intimacy.

Start a conversation about eating healthier meals together, setting a good sleep routine, and even cutting back on the things that get in the way of feeling good. These may not be big changes, but they add up in the long run. When both of you start to feel better, the mind and body are both more open to intimacy.

Foster a Sense of Safety and Trust

At the end of the day, feeling safe and trusted can make a massive difference. Creating a space where your partner knows they won’t be judged or pressured allows them to share and open up in ways they might not have before.

Ensure your partner knows:

  • Their feelings are valid and respected.
  • You’re in this together for both the good and the bad.
  • They can trust you with their vulnerabilities.

Focus on Emotional Bonding

Truly connecting with your partner means hitting that sweet spot where you understand each other on a much deeper level. Focus on building that emotional bond by doing little things that bring you closer.

Here are things you could try together:

  • Share your dreams and goals during long walks or over a cup of coffee.
  • Start a tradition, like a weekly game night or cooking together on weekends.
  • Keep asking questions about each other’s thoughts and feelings — it shows you care.

Show Affection Without Expectations

Sometimes, a hug is just a hug, and a kiss is just a kiss. Not every touch or tender word has to lead to the bedroom. Show your partner you love them in ways that don’t carry the pressure of leading to something more.

Example: Leave little love notes in unexpected places, or hold their hand while you’re walking or watching a show. And my personal favorite — give your partner a back rub after a long day without any strings attached.

By showing affection freely and without the underlying pressure for more, your partner starts to see affection as a safe and loving expression, not as a means to an end.

Reflect on Personal Attitudes Toward Intimacy

This one might seem a bit personal: take some time to consider what intimacy means to you and how your approach might be affecting your partner. Remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to intimacy.

Here’s what might help:

  • Ask yourself what intimacy looks like in your ideal world. Is it realistic?
  • Consider if past experiences are shaping your expectations or fears.
  • Be honest about whether your attitude towards intimacy is open and patient or if it’s perhaps a tad bit pushy.

Reflecting on and adjusting your own attitudes can not only improve the situation but also set a tone of mutual respect and willingness to grow together.

Ensure Privacy and Uninterrupted Time

We all know how life can barge in with its endless to-do lists and responsibilities, leaving little room for those quiet, undisturbed moments with your significant other. But here’s the thing: quality time isn’t gonna find itself; you have to create it.

Carve out some uninterrupted time where you can be together without the world knocking at your door. Whether it’s a quiet evening at home or a walk in the park, make it just about the two of you.

Guard this time like a treasure because, in these moments, you’re giving each other the message that your relationship is a priority.

Create a Stress-Free Environment

Imagine coming home to a place that’s a sanctuary from all the chaos and noise of the outside world. Now, that’s the sort of environment that can help anyone unclench their shoulders and breathe easier.

Work on making your shared space a haven of peace and relaxation.

From soft lighting and comfortable cushions to a tidied space and soothing music, the right atmosphere can do wonders for the soul and might just be the invitation needed for intimacy to bloom again.

Explore New Activities Together

New experiences break the monotony and can bring fresh energy into your relationship. When you learn or discover something together, it creates shared memories and strengthens your bond.

Example: Take a dance class together, or go for a hike and explore nature side by side.

Create Intimacy Goals Together

Just like you set goals for your fitness or your career, why not do the same for your intimacy? Sit down together and define what intimacy means for each of you and what steps you can take to get closer to that vision.

Consider these things:

  • Setting goals for how often you want to have date nights.
  • Talking about what kinds of affection you both enjoy and agree to incorporate more of that into your daily lives.
  • Reviewing these goals regularly to see how you’re doing and to make any adjustments.

Encourage Individual Self-Care

Taking care of ourselves isn’t just about bubble baths and face masks — though those are great, too! It’s about making sure our tanks are full so we’ve got plenty to give in our relationships. When your partner feels good about themselves, they’re more likely to want to share that good vibe with you.

So, encourage your partner to indulge in activities they love, whether it’s hitting the gym, reading a book, or just taking a nap. And don’t forget to practice self-care yourself!

Deal with Unresolved Conflicts

Old arguments and conflicts can stack up like a wall between you and your partner, getting in the way of intimacy. Dealing with these conflicts isn’t easy, but it’s necessary if you want to move forward together.

What this looks like:

  • Sitting down and talking through things that have been bothering you both. It’s not about winning an argument; it’s about understanding each other.
  • Perhaps consider writing down the points you want to talk about beforehand so you can stay on track during the discussion.
  • Seeking a mediator or counselor if you find yourselves going in circles.
Resolve those old battles so you can face new days together, lighter and more in sync.

Avoid Blame and Criticism

Blame and criticism can turn a simple conversation into a full-blown battleground. When you’re addressing sensitive issues like the lack of intimacy, focus on expressing how you feel rather than pointing fingers.

Begin sentences with “I feel…” rather than “You always…”

This shifts the conversation from potentially explosive to collaborative problem-solving. Remember, the goal isn’t to win the argument but to find a solution that works for both of you.

Celebrate Small Moments of Closeness

Sometimes, it’s the tiny, seemingly insignificant moments that create the most warmth in a relationship. A squeeze of the hand, a quick peck on the cheek, or a shared laugh over an inside joke — all these add up. Celebrate these moments of closeness!

Acknowledge them with a smile or a reciprocating gesture to let your partner know how much you appreciate these connections.

Plan Regular Date Nights

Date nights are not just for new couples; they’re a must for keeping the spark alive in any long-term relationship. Regular date nights can show your commitment to maintaining the fun and excitement that brought you together in the first place.

Here are some ideas for your date nights:

  • Fancy ones for anniversaries.
  • Casual takeout nights.
  • Picnics in the park.

The key is consistency, not complexity. Make it a habit and watch how a little playfulness can bring a sprinkle of magic to your relationship.

Passion is the quickest to develop, and the quickest to fade. Intimacy develops more slowly, and commitment more gradually still.

– Robert Sternberg

Experiment with Romantic Gestures

Now, let’s get creative! Romantic gestures aren’t one-size-fits-all. They should be tailored to what melts your partner’s heart.

Maybe your partner’s love language is receiving gifts — something as simple as their favorite snack can be an “I’m thinking of you” present. If they cherish acts of service, perhaps completing a chore they don’t like to do can show them love in a more practical way.

Playing with different romantic gestures can be a lot of fun and show your partner that you’re really into keeping the relationship exciting and fresh. Don’t be afraid to try new things and see what makes both of you smile the most.

Understand the Impact of Past Traumas

Traumas from the past have a tricky way of showing up in our present, especially in intimate situations. If your partner is dealing with such ghosts, it’s important for you to understand that these experiences can deeply affect their comfort levels with intimacy.

Take the time to learn and understand what might trigger discomfort for your partner. This understanding can guide you on how to support them through their healing process, ensuring that you approach intimacy with the care and sensitivity it deserves.

Rekindle Romance Outside the Bedroom

Now, lighting that spark doesn’t always mean candles and dim lights. Romance is about connecting with each other in ways that make you both feel loved and cherished, no matter where you are.

This could look like:

  • Surprising your partner by taking them to the place where you first met.
  • Enjoying a shared hobby, allowing you both to experience joy together.

And this is just the beginning. By finding that romantic connection outside the bedroom, you’re setting the stage for a more organic, pressure-free intimacy.

Initiate Non-Sexual Physical Touch

Physical touch can convey so much warmth and love, and it doesn’t always have to lead to sex. Touch is a language of its own — a hand on the shoulder, a gentle massage, or just a long embrace can say “I love you” without a single word.

Incorporate these simple gestures of love into your day-to-day life:

  • A hug before leaving for work.
  • Holding hands while watching a movie.

Educate on Love Languages

We all have our special way of feeling loved: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, or physical touch. Figuring out your partner’s love language — and them learning yours — opens up a world where you can show love in the way it’s most deeply felt.

Here’s a closer look at the five love languages and some examples of what they might look like in action:

Love LanguageHow It Looks Like
Words of AffirmationComplimenting your partner on a job well done. Saying “I love you” often. Writing a love letter.
Acts of ServiceDoing the dishes without being asked. Making them breakfast in bed. Taking the car in for an oil change.
Receiving GiftsPicking up their favorite snack on your way home. Surprising them with a book by their favorite author.
Quality TimeSetting aside an evening to have a phone-free dinner. Planning a weekend getaway together.
Physical TouchHolding hands while you walk. Giving a back rub after a stressful day. Snuggling up on the couch.

Once you get these love languages down, it’s like having the right keys for the right locks. It’s all about knowing what matters most to your partner and making little changes in how you show your love to them.

Tip: Read the book "The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts" by Gary Chapman to learn how to speak in a love language that resonates with your partner.

Exchange Personal Desires and Fantasies

Open up the conversation to include deeper desires and fantasies — what excites you, what you’re curious about, or maybe even what you’re nervous to try. The point of this isn’t necessarily to act on these desires (unless you both want to) but to create a space where you both feel heard and understood.

However, make sure it’s a safe and non-judgmental conversation. No idea is too silly; it’s all about sharing, not obliging.

Address Body Image or Self-Esteem Issues

It can be difficult to be “in the mood” if you’re not feeling good about yourself. Negative body image or low self-esteem can really put the brakes on intimacy. So, if your partner is struggling with these issues, be the cheering squad they need.

How it looks like: Compliment them sincerely and quite often. Help them focus on their strengths and what you love about them.

Remember, this is a delicate area, so always approach the topic with kindness and an open heart.

Increase Physical Fitness as a Couple

Physical fitness is not just about getting into shape; it’s also about the shared energy, the endorphins, and the sense of achievement that comes with it.

Hit the gym together, go for jogs, or try out a new sport as a duo. It’s a fantastic way to bond, support each other’s goals, and have fun — all of which can positively influence intimacy. You’re not just building muscles here; you’re building a connection.

Simplify Your Routine to Reduce Stress

Overbooked schedules can, most of the time, steal those moments that can be spent nurturing your relationship. Take a good look at your daily routine. Where can you cut back to make life less hectic?

Maybe it’s decluttering your space or opting for easy meal prep during the week. Simplifying your life opens up room for relaxation and, yes, intimacy. Remember, a clear space can lead to a more open heart.

Consider what simplifying looks like for you:

  • Decluttering your living space for clearer minds.
  • Preparing meals together for quality time and less rush during the week.
  • Setting boundaries with work time to ensure home time is truly home time.

Acknowledge Positive Changes

When your partner makes an effort, notice it and say something about it. It could be as simple as a thank you for being more open or a thoughtful comment on how enjoyable last night’s date was.

Recognition goes a long way and reinforces the behaviors you want to see more of in your relationship. Even small steps deserve a high-five because every step counts when it comes to rekindling intimacy.

Observe the Influence of Outside Stressors

Life’s hustle and bustle don’t just stay at the office or out there in the world; they follow us home, affecting our moods and our connection with our loved ones.

That’s why it’s important to spot those outside stresses — whether it’s work deadlines or family drama — and recognize how they might be creating tension in your relationship. Understanding this can lead to greater empathy and support for your partner.

Avoid Pressure or Ultimatums

Now, while we’re dealing with those outside stressors, here’s something just as important: don’t turn up the heat by adding pressure or giving ultimatums about intimacy.

That’s a surefire way to send your partner’s stress levels soaring even higher. Instead, offer a reassuring presence that says you’re not just waiting for the storm to pass so you can get what you want but that you’re there to weather it together.

Seek Out Couple’s Activities and Workshops

Couple’s activities and workshops can be an amazing way to build new skills and have a blast while you’re at it. Whether it’s a cooking class where you can both laugh over a soufflé gone wrong or a dance class where you get to learn new steps together, these shared experiences bring a lot of joy and closeness.

Plus, workshops specifically designed for couples can provide useful tools for communication and understanding, opening the door wider for intimacy to walk back in.

Explore Mindful or Meditative Practices Together

Mindfulness and meditation aren’t just solo activities; they’re wonderful to explore as a couple, too. They can help both of you relax, connect, and be present with each other, which is a beautiful setting for intimacy to flourish. Here are some ways you can get started:

  • Set aside a regular time for joint meditation sessions.
  • Try out a yoga class that focuses on partner exercises.
  • Go for mindful walks, where you focus on the experience and your connection with each other.

Consider Temporary Abstinence

It might sound counterintuitive, but sometimes, taking sex off the table for a while can help. When you both agree to focus on connecting in non-physical ways, as we talked about earlier, it can take the pressure off and provide space to rediscover the emotional aspects of your relationship.

It’s a period to focus on those other love languages and to express your affection in new and creative ways.

When the pressure is lifted, you both might start to miss that physical connection, and when you eventually decide to end the abstinence, you’ll find that your intimacy is more charged and genuine than before.

Consider Relationship Coaching

Sometimes, love could use a coach just as much as any sports team. Relationship coaching is a proactive step for couples who want to strengthen their partnership before problems become unmanageable.

A coach can provide strategies tailored to your unique situation to boost communication, resolve conflicts, and enhance your connection. Think of your relationship as a team. A coach can help both of you play to your strengths, support each other’s weak spots, and work towards common relationship goals.

Acknowledge that It’s Okay to Seek Help

Let’s be real: asking for help is often seen as a sign of defeat, but it’s actually quite the opposite.

It takes courage to admit that you don’t have all the answers, and it’s a huge step towards making things better. Whether it’s confiding in trusted friends, consulting with family members who have been through similar situations, or reaching out to healthcare professionals, seeking help is a smart move.

Intimacy is not purely physical. It’s the act of connecting with someone so deeply, you feel like you can see into their soul.

– Reshall Varsos

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I tell if the lack of intimacy is just a temporary phase or a more serious issue?

Changes in intimacy levels are normal over the course of a relationship. However, if this phase is prolonged and accompanied by communication breakdowns or other relationship issues, it could indicate deeper problems. It might be beneficial to seek professional advice to understand the root cause.

My partner is dealing with a lot of stress at work. How can I help them feel more relaxed at home?

Create a calming atmosphere, offer to help with household chores to lighten their load, and ensure they have time to unwind. Sometimes, simply being there and showing you care can make a huge difference.

Can having a child affect intimacy levels between partners?

Having a child can affect intimacy, often due to increased responsibilities, physical exhaustion, and new priorities. It’s essential to communicate openly about each other’s needs and find ways to maintain your connection as a couple, not just as parents.


Final Thoughts

As we wrap up, I hope you’re walking away with a heart that’s a little lighter and a toolbox that’s a bit fuller.

Remember, intimacy is a dance where both partners need to feel the music. It’s okay if one of you sometimes needs a break or the rhythm changes. What matters is that you’re both willing to listen to each other and move together.

So, take these words, tips, and strategies with you. Sit down with your partner, open up that conversation, and start laying down the steps to close that gap. And hey, it’s absolutely okay to reach out for a helping hand along the way.

Together, you can find the path that leads back to intimacy — and to each other.

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Leah is a creative soul with a passion for telling stories that matter. As an editor and writer at UpJourney, she channels her natural curiosity and imagination into thought-provoking articles and inspiring content. She is also a registered nurse dedicated to helping others and making a positive impact.

In her free time, she indulges her artistic side as a hobbyist photographer, capturing the world's beauty one shot at a time. You can also find her in a poor-lit room playing her favorite video games or in a corner somewhere, reading and immersing herself in the rich worlds of fantasy and dark academia.

At home, Leah is surrounded by love and laughter, living peacefully with her partner and their three adorable shih tzus.