Are you prioritizing the quantity over the quality of sex in your relationship? Dr. Jess evaluates whether it might be a good time to take a vacation from sex.
Too much of a good thing may be wonderful, but when it comes to sex, taking a hiatus can be good for your relationship and sex life!
Read through some of the benefits of temporarily abstaining from sex to decide if now might be a good time to take a vacation from sex.
Benefit #1: A boost in libido
Science suggests that a sex fast can enhance sexual desire. When the brain and body lack specific stimuli, we tend to seek new sources of stimulation. The sexually-specific sensory deprivation experienced during a sex hiatus can help to fuel spontaneous sexual desire, which doesn’t tend to exist in abundance for many of us in long term relationships; we tend to experience desire after we’re aroused as opposed to spontaneously. Though you’re perfectly normal if you don’t experience spontaneous sexual desire, you can cultivate this experience via a non-permanent break from sex.
Benefit #2: An increase in affection
As you take a break from your usual sexual routine, you’re likely to seek new approaches to expressing love, appreciation and physical affection. Cindy and Ross went on a 40-day sex “cleanse” last year in which all forms of genital stimulation (partnered and solo) were disallowed. They report that abstaining from their regular ritual (sex on Sunday mornings) revolutionized their relationship.
“It was such a relief to not feel obligated to ‘be intimate’ every weekend,” Cindy explains. “And when we got back at it after Lent, it was so much better, because we kissed, cuddled, hugged and spooned more often. Because he’s more affectionate with me all week — not just on Sundays — I’m in the mood more often and our frequency has skyrocketed after nineteen years of marriage. We’re giving up sex again for Lent this year and even though it will be tough, we both know it will be worth it.”
Benefit #3: Improved communication
Negotiating a sex fast requires that you actually talk about sex. You need to discuss what your sex stoppage will entail and delineate its purpose. As you move away from your predictable routine, it not only injects novelty into the relationship, but provides an opportunity to share your specific desires, interests, and boundaries and learn more about your partner’s. As your understanding of one another’s needs deepens, so too does your connection and mutual satisfaction.
Benefit #4: A longer, more satisfying sexual experience
One of the most common complaints I hear, particularly from women, is that their (male) partners tend to move too quickly during sex play.
A partial sex fast can help you to re-frame sex to include a wider variety of activities that delay or preclude intercourse. This exploration may also lead to an increase in pleasure and satisfaction for women, as a recent study found that the likelihood of orgasm increases when sexual encounters include deep kissing, oral sex, and genital stimulation.
Benefit #5: A decrease in performance pressure
Whether you opt to refrain from all sexual activity or simply select specific activities (e.g. intercourse) from which to abstain, an intentional sex suspension can help to alleviate pressure. Not only do we face the pressure of physical performance in the bedroom, but our quantity-over-quality world adds a layer of social pressure with regards to how often we get it on. Purposefully forgoing sex for a set period of time helps us to shift our focus away from frequency to the quality of our sexual interactions and their impact on our overall relationship.
Benefit #6: Heightened pleasure (once you return to sex)
Couples who intentionally abstain from sex find that the intensity of physical and psychological response when they return to sexual activity is significantly heightened.
Christophe describes his experience: “By the end of the month, I was starving for it. And so when my hunger was finally satiated, the intensity increased tenfold. It felt like the very first time. People who think that more means better are really missing out. Temporary deprivation really does make the eventual experience even hotter.”
Planning a sex break vs. having a dry spell
Differentiating between a planned sex fast and an incidental dry spell (or sexless relationship) is also of paramount importance, as the former tends to be a team effort, while the latter is often more one-sided. The aforementioned benefits are connected to sexual abstinence that is mutually intentional, so talk to your partner about your needs, concerns and desired outcomes to see if a sex fast is a good fit for your relationship.
I hope you enjoy these tips for reinvigorating your love life and remember to always practice safer sex.