Why Women Withhold Sex

Dear Neil: No matter how a man treats you in marriage, if you are a woman you are always expected to allow him access to your body. Even when he calls you insulting names, mocks your sexual history, graphically describes your sex life to other men, is verbally abusive or makes sex painful, bad or boring. Those men often wind up in sexless marriages, because their women do not feel respected, valued or treated well.

Men who are in happy sexual marriages treat their wives with love, care, kindness, tenderness and understanding. They don’t provoke their woman to be angry, hurt or emotionally reeling from a fight. They’re willing to accommodate to a woman sexually and won’t demand what she doesn’t want to give. They like making sex good for her, and will put in the time and effort to pleasure her. They will help her to feel secure and loved during sex. This is how a man who wants a willing woman can end up in a sexually active and vital marriage.

Poor Treatment is Not Sexy

Dear Not Sexy: There are many reasons women (and sometimes men) decide to withdraw sex from their relationship. Anger, resentment, hurtful words, poor treatment and disrespect are described in the letter above. Here are some of the other non-medical reasons for a relationship to wind up chaste and abstinent:

  • There is very little affection or touch outside the bedroom, so lovemaking begins to feel awkward, artificial and foreign.
  • One person feels manipulated, controlled or coerced, and therefore begins actively resisting their partner.
  • There is a loss of trust, such as when a betrayal occurs, where one partner is hurt or no longer feels safe with the other.
  • The relationship has grown distant, disconnected and withdrawn. The relationship no longer feels close, friendly and intimate, so sex doesn’t feel appropriate or warranted.
  • Repetition over time becomes boring and numbing. Most of us require an element of novelty, variety, imaginativeness and creativity to keep the spark alive.
  • If one person doesn’t enjoy sex, s/he has no incentive for engaging in it. Here’s what helps your partner to dislike sex or to lose interest: being too quick; too focused on the act and not on the person; too selfish; not enough foreplay; not tender enough; or not being mentally, emotionally and/or physically present.
  • Using porn, fantasies about others or engaging in any sexual activity that your partner feels is wrong or distasteful. All of those are likely to make your spouse feel bad, dirty or demeaned.
  • Withholding sex can be a way of punishing your partner. It can also be used as a form of leverage to get one’s way in a conflict or disagreement.
  • Hygiene issues, such as bad breath, dirty clothes, smelly hair, body odor or not being squeaky clean.
  • Appearance issues. Have you given up trying to look fit, attractive or appealing to your partner?
  • Low libido. If your desire isn’t strong, there is no sense of urgency or hunger.
  • Protection from feeling vulnerable. If I don’t allow you close to me physically, perhaps I won’t feel defenseless when I get your judgement, rejection, criticism, withdrawal or anger.
  • You and your partner are no longer friends.

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