“You wonder why I’m distant, angry, and hurt. You wonder why I’m not affectionate – just think about it. How would you feel if you reached out to me for sex and I turned my back, pushed you away, or made lame excuses to avoid any romantic or sexual time together? How about if I went day after day ignoring your sexual needs?
It’s hard for me to feel like helping you or supporting you when you’re so insensitive. Problem is, it takes two of us to be sexual but only one person (you!) to say no. You have the power to stop our sex life and you have used that power at the risk of our happiness.
You must not feel what I feel when we go without sex. I can’t help but believe if you knew how physically, emotionally, and psychologically uncomfortable it is for me, that you would feel guilty about your resistance. Or maybe you just don’t care; maybe you don’t care about sex and don’t care about me. Whatever the reason, I’m not happy about it and you should understand why I’m upset.”
The Purpose of Sexual Withholding
People withhold sex for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it’s simply a difference in sexual desire: one partner wants sex twice a week and the other prefers twice a month. (The two most common frequency preferences among couples)
Some partners don’t enjoy the same sexual activities and therefore resist any sexual contact at all. They lack effective communication skills as well as suggestions for sexual techniques that could lead to mutual enjoyment.
Some people use lack of sex as a way to “punish” their partner or get their partners attention when they feel their partner is not listening to them anymore.
A significant number of couples simply don’t make time for sex. The lead busy lives with little relaxation or quiet moments together.
Some partners simply aren’t interested in sex and feel justified in ignoring their partner’s needs- although this is far rarer than you might believe. Given the right situation almost everyone enjoys sex.
If the partner who initiates sex more often exhibits offensive behavior, such as acting in an angry or defensive manner, this may serve as a turn-off and justification for the other partner to withhold sexual contact. Without effective communication skills a cold war may ensue.
Easily, the most common reason partners withhold sex is lack of information related to healthy, fun, sexual practices. They don’t know what turns them on and therefore cannot provide their partners with constructive information that would lead to mutual satisfaction. They may never have come close to experiencing their own sexual potential.
The Disconnect from Sexual Withholding
Early in a relationship, with novelty fueling the libido, sexual desire and receptivity run high for most couples. Over the course of time normal differences evolve, requiring skills and knowledge to navigate. Unfortunately, not all individuals or couples are equipped to manage these sexual changes.
When reality falls short of expectations, disappointment sets in. In the beginning of a relationship it appears as if you both have the same desires, similar interests in sex, and are tuned in to one another’s needs in an almost perfect manner. Managing your intimate love life takes little or no effort at all. This romantic love stage fosters the belief that it will always be this way. When normal differences emerge, disenchantment follows. How you manage this common post-rapture stage of love will determine how connected or disconnected you are as a couple.
Disconnection occurs when curiosity, caring, compassion, and open communication are replaced with criticism, control, blame, bullying, defensiveness, defiance, withdrawal, withholding, anger, or avoidance.
Transforming Sexual Withholding
Most people live a lifetime and never experience the full pleasure of their sexual potential – or the potential of the partnership. Unaware of sexual styles as well as the differing partnership. Unaware of sexual styles as well as the differing pathways to arousal, they stay stuck in old patterns and parochial views. Transformation requires a new perspective beginning with commitment to creating a passionate relationship together.
Sexual withholding can be a little problem or a big problem, and transformation must be congruent with the level of severity. If you are just out of practice and need to get back on track, reignite your sex life with these words of wisdom:
- Set mutual established sensual/sexual goals for your relationship.
- Start with small, doable goals.
- Make time for sex. Block off private, uninterrupted periods and make these commitments sacred.
- Become an expert in your own sexual arousal and desire.
- Establish a safe way of talking about sex.
- Accept and honor differences between the two of you.
- Understand that half the population doesn’t feel like having sex until they are already having sex.
Most couples agree that sex is important to the care and feeding of a relationship, but they get stuck around the “will wee or won’t we have sex” stage. Take away the tension, reflect on what you admire in your partner and keep an open mind. Replace withholding with a commitment to be available as a sexual/ sensual/ intimate partner whenever either of you has the desire.
There are many, many ways to be sexual. From the quickie to the weekend sex fest, couples run the gamut when it comes to sensual pleasure. Get in the habit of expanding your sexual repertoire in terms of time, attention, and technique.
If the issues between the two of you are more complicated than just getting off track, then you might need to address the unresolved issues that are contaminating your sex life:
- Set aside time to talk and listen in a calm, respectful manner.
- Practice replacing criticism with asking specifically for what you want.
- Anytime your partner comes close to pleasing you, acknowledge the act with a smile, touch, or “Thank you!”
- Consult a third party – Read a related book such as “Hot Monogamy” or “You Can Make It Happen” as a study guide for your relationship.
If sex has become a deal-breaker, or if the two of you are growing further apart, consult a specialist ASAP. If there is underlying contempt, or the feeling that there is “too much water under the bridge” or that you are no longer feeling like you are understood by your partner or compatible for reasons outside sex, then the relationship needs help. There is no substitute for professional support when it comes to sexual issues that threaten your relationship. Counseling doesn’t have to go on forever or cost a fortune. Be sure to work with a therapist who has been trained in relationship counseling as well as sexuality. There’s not a better way to invest in your home improvement!