Originally posted on Bustle
Sometimes, you just need some time off — even from the things you love. You can be someone who loves sex one minute and then, for some reason, you just need to take a break from break from sex. That’s totally OK. But whether you and your partner have a lot of sex or not as much, it can still be tricky explaining that you need to take some time away from it. Just keep in mind that there are actually some huge benefits of taking a step back from your sex life.
“Things can get chaotic and confusing when you are having sex all the time,” Audrey Hope, celebrity renowned relationship expert, tells Bustle. “How is the emotional piece of the pie? How is the mental piece of the pie? Do you both really have a future together and do you really connect, spiritually? Take a break from [sex] and find out who the person beside you really is.”
Also, don’t feel like you need to have some big reason that you want to take a break from sex — if you do, obviously that’s totally valid, but you don’t have to. Maybe there’s a specific reason, like you are having problems physically or you want to get back in touch with the emotional side of your relationship. But maybe your sex drive has just dipped a bit — that’s OK too.
“A healthy sex drive is different for each person,” Amy Levine, sex coach and founder of Ignite Your Pleasure, tells Bustle. “Overall, it’s when we feel balanced in our desire (it feels good to us, as opposed to something being off whether too high or low) and sexually fulfilled whether it’s alone or with a partner.” That balance shifts sometimes — and you don’t have to try and fight it.
But it can still be uncomfortable telling your partner you need a break from sex. You don’t want to hurt their feelings or their pride, but you also need to be honest about how you’re feeling. Here’s what to keep in mind, according to experts.
Explain What It’s About
Naturally, your partner is going to wonder “Why?”, so you’re going to want to have an answer to that question. Don’t feel the need to get defensive — you have every right to need a break — just explain your reasoning. It may be that you just want to get more in touch with your partner.
“I often recommend for couples to abstain from sex to focus on the emotional closeness and friendship of the relationship,” Dr. Wyatt Fisher, licensed psychologist, tells Bustle. “Sexual desire or openness to sexual contact flows out of emotional closeness. Therefore, as…. emotional closeness climbs, [your] openness to sex and desire for it will increase as well.”
And if the issue is about sex itself, then you should explain that to them, too. “[Taking a break from sex] allows both individuals to notice and be aware of how they are using sex,” Lisa Bahar, LMFT and relationship therapist, tells Bustle. But make sure that you also explain what you like about your sex life, so they don’t feel like you’re just not enjoying it all anymore (although if that is the case, you can totally say it in a respectful and constructive way).
Choose A Time Frame And Set Ground Rules
Taking sex off the table can feel like a huge change, so talk to your partner to work out a time frame and ground rules that will make it more manageable. “Taking a break from [sex] offers the opportunity to reset your relationship, and get to know a person divorced from them principally as a sexual partner,” Constance Dunn, communication expert and author of personal self-improvement handbook Practical Glamour, tells Bustle. “To give your relationship legs, propose a [sex] break that lasts approximately two weeks. This is long enough to get to know each other but not so long as to seem like forever.”
In that period, you may find that you want no sexual contact at all — or maybe that’s still on the table. “The intercourse break is not just great for getting to know the person behind the body, but it also builds erotic suspense and allows you to explore each other sensually, since intercourse is off the table but other activities are not,” Dunn says.
Make sure you and your partner are on the same page about what a break means, before you start one.
Finally, understand that this may concern your partner, so try to go into the exchange with some compassion. Know that they might feel hurt or confused — and like they’ve done something wrong. Focus on the positive by highlighting what you hope to gain and everything that you like about your sex life already and talk about other ways you can connect and spend time together during the break. Make it feel like something is being added to the relationship, rather than just being taken away.
If you need a break from sex, for any reason, that’s totally something you should take — but it’s important to be open about why you want it, reassure your partner, and focus on the good that will come of it for your relationship. Because, actually, you might find some whole new ways to connect.