You know when we can’t have something, we tend to want it even more, and then it feels so good when we finally do get it? Does the same hold true for sex?
We already know that sex makes us feel physically and emotionally closer to our partners, but purposely denying ourselves sex with our loved one could make us want our partner even more, if practiced the right way.
Abstinence can help you recognize the value of your significant other, especially if you’ve taken him or her for granted or lost the spark that drew you together, says family therapist, Dr. Tiffany Sanders. “It can also contribute to more meaningful interactions because the time spent together may be viewed as coveted and intense,” she says.
While many experts agree that regular sex is important for relationships, practicing restraint every now and then to focus on the non-physical aspects of the relationship can also be part of a healthy sex life. A study published in The Journal of Communication says that couples in long distance relationships where abstinence is more of the default have more meaningful interactions than those who see each other on a daily basis, leading to higher levels of intimacy.
To keep the romance alive, these couples will engage in more frequent verbal communication and discuss deeper issues, such as love, trust, and future plans. Therefore, the intimacy developed is more psychological than sexual and physical, says researchers. “Spend this new found non-physical time learning more about each other’s likes, dislikes, hobbies and stressors. [And] don’t go on dates in the home. When you layup, you get laid. Get out of the house and be active. This will help you have fun and enjoy each other,” says Sanders.
There is also that strong sexual desire that can build if couples restrain from sex, especially if emotional, intellectual, and physical intimacy are still being stimulated while you wait. Once sex finally occurs, couples may see that holding off for a little bit was worth it.
However, if couples decide to delay sexual gratification, it’s important that both partners are on the same page about the length of time this is practiced. When sexual sparks are flying, it’s better to acknowledge them. “While abstinence can reinforce the love between the two, it can also cause a disconnection from your loved one and then you realize that the relationship was never really that great.” Or, worse, that sex was the only thing keeping you two together.
When taking a break from sex in an effort to strengthen the relationship, it’s important to remind each other why. When sex dies down, as it usually does, you’ll want to ensure there’s a solid foundation to maintain the relationship.