Pressing pause on having sex while in a relationship might sound like an unfair way to pressure your partner. However, when decided mutually, it can be an effective tool to take your connection to a new level rather than act as a relationship power play. Here our expert explains why.
Why should you consider taking a sex break in relationships?
In some situations, abstinence can be quite useful, especially when sex is usually used to resolve conflict. Instead of communicating with each other, partners can fall back on ignoring the issue and compensate for problems by having sex. While this may lighten the mood in the short term, over a longer period this can cause frustration and even issues with libido. Your love life is a complex interplay of various factors, all controlled by each partner – both consciously and subconsciously. Of course sex has a huge impact on a relationship, but it should not be the central focus.
Relationships under stress – when taking a break becomes urgent
“Usually, sex is one of the nicest things in the world, but when it’s dysfunctional, a break can be helpful,” explains Nicole Engel, our relationship expert. Discussing why and when taking a break might be necessary, she explains, “Most couples experience a lull in their sex life due to everyday stress or other problems. However, there are other cases, in which couples use sex as a go-to solution rather than abstaining from it. This can be wild and passionate but doesn’t really help in resolving the basic problem, so of course the issue will continue to occur. In other words, this kind of couple might lack a certain level of honesty and trust in their communication. When it comes to arguments or distance, sex becomes the solution for both. This situation is dysfunctional as it doesn’t help to resolve any communication issues in the long term, and so taking a break from sex becomes a sensible choice.”
Putting it into practice
To ensure the period of abstinence is effectively used to improve the relationship, here are some of our expert’s key suggestions:
“How long really depends on the individual case. The main thing is that the couple doesn’t view the break as a form of punishment, but rather acknowledges that it offers a different way of solving problems. It is alternative to slipping into old behavioral patterns (like using sex instead of communication). That said, it only makes sense if the couple is working on communication together. This is quite difficult without expert support, so I would recommend couples seek advice like relationship coaching.”
“As depicted in the Fifty Shades of Grey series, many will know that sometimes a sexual hiatus is requested by only one of the two partners. These situations often involve people that are sexually addicted or have learned to manage their own needs and emotions solely through sex. The example from the books is Mr. Grey and his sadomasochism. This is indeed another situation where a sexual break can make sense if both partners are suffering as a consequence. The partner in question can take a look at what triggers their sex drive and what alternative solutions there are than just having sex. Again, professional support in the form of a life coach or sex therapist would be extremely beneficial in this situation.”
Think outside the bedroom
Some forms of routine can certainly help a healthy relationship, but when it comes to sex, passion and libido can often suffer. When boredom becomes a problem, taking a break from sex can help. Intimacy is not limited to having sex, instead it can be celebrated on different levels. Challenge your imagination and revamp your love life. “Thinking outside the box” can be wonderful for your love life. Of course, you should agree on the duration of the hiatus before you begin and this way you will both have an exciting light at the end of the tunnel to anticipate. Having a fixed time helps keep you focused and increases your enthusiasm during the countdown.