Can Taking A Break From Sex Improve Your Relationship?

by Laken Howard
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As someone who's super sex-positive, I'll be the first to admit that the thought of taking a break from sex with my partner is pretty damn unappealing. If you're in a healthy, happy relationship and have an active sex life, why press pause on that? On the other hand, I can understand why the idea might not be all bad: there's no harm in temporarily switching up your sexual routine and seeing what kind of effects that has on your relationship as a whole. So how can taking a break from sex improve your relationship?

"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."

Obviously, the stipulations of your sex break are totally up to you and your partner: maybe you only want it to last a week, or maybe you'd prefer to go "foreplay-only" instead of pressing pause on all sexual activity. Whatever you decide, here are six reasons you should consider taking a break from sex in your relationship.


You'll Be Able To Reflect On Other Aspects Of The Relationship

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It should go without saying that having a hot, passionate sex life is not mutually exclusive from having a serious, emotionally fulfilling relationship (in fact, those things often go hand-in-hand). Nonetheless, taking a short break from sex can give you and your partner the opportunity to focus *solely* on the emotional and mental connection you share, and reflect on your relationship outside of 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."


You Can Focus On Your Sensuality

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Although the definition of 'sex' is different for everyone, if you're planning to take a break strictly from intercourse, you have the perfect opportunity to explore other kinds of sexual activity to help you get closer. You can spend time building intimacy through things like foreplay, sensual massages, or even just cuddling.

"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.


You Can Weed People Out

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If you've been with your partner for only a short time, it might feel weird to propose a break from sex. But if you're worried that your new-ish partner is only in it for the sex, taking a step back and focusing on getting to know each other — even if you've already had sex — can help clarify whether they're interested in you outside of the bedroom.

"These days, many couples start in the middle — they have sex without knowing much about the other person," Dunn says. "This proposal is a good way to clear out the riff-riff; if [your partner] is just about [sex], [they'll] turn the idea down or split for good."


You Can Get Closer Emotionally

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Is there anything better than feeling like you and your partner are best friends, and not just lovers? Although you don't need to temporarily abstain from sex to figure that out, it might be fun for the two of you to take a short break from sex just to remind yourselves how much fun you have together and how much you have in common (aside from your intense sexual connection).

"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."


You Can Figure Out *How* You're Using Sex

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When you're in a long-term relationship, sex can become just another part of your daily routine — and you might not be aware of why you're doing it. If, for example, you realize you're using sex primarily as a stress reliever, taking a break can help you get back to your roots and remember that sex should be about building intimacy and bringing pleasure to both partners.

"[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. "Perhaps it is an outlet of frustration and stress? Explore different ways to release these human needs to let go of stress."


You'll Appreciate Sex More When The Break Ends

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And, of course, the ultimate benefit to taking a quick break from sex with your partner is that, when you do decide to get back down to business, you'll appreciate and crave your partner all the more. If you use the break to build intimacy in other ways, chances are you'll be super ready to get back in the saddle and have even hotter sex with your partner than you did before the break.

No one can tell you how to conduct your sex life, and if you're super averse to the idea of taking a break from sex, then simply don't do it. But if you're looking for a way to build intimacy, reflect on other aspects of your relationship, and shake up your sexual routine, taking a short break from sex might be just what the doctor ordered.