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Developing Needed Coping Skills
The act of sex can be healing, but if you’ve been getting frisky to avoid dealing with other important issues, consider hitting the pause button. “In [some] cases, people may use sex to cope with these problems, so it would be best to take a break from sex and learn other coping mechanisms,” said Chavez.
Eric M. relates to this scenario. He decided to stop engaging in “frequent hookups” after realizing he'd been attempting to “avoid feeling the grief I had from losing my mom.” What started out as a plan for a month away from sex turned into nearly a year. “By the time I got back into it,” he said, “I was a healthier partner…more respectful and present and I enjoyed it more.”
Read: Sex and Sadness: How to Cope With Depression In Your Love Life
Greater Ease and Relaxation
As Anderson learned, stress is a common buzz kill. Sexual intimacy and orgasm can help relieve stress and some folks desire more sex while stressed. But it won’t help if the process or prioritizing of sex exacerbates matters. “My stress level reduced as soon as [our sex break] started,” said Anderson. “I could focus on other things without that emotional weight I was carrying.”
If You’re Considering Taking a Break From Sex, Consider These Steps:
Determine the Specifics
Decide whether you’ll avoid sexual activity altogether or just certain types of activities, such as penetration, masturbation or naked make-out sessions. Keep in mind that people’s definitions of sex vary, so open communication with your partners is key.
Anderson and her partner decided on cuddling only until she felt ready for more. “When that happened, it was really awesome,” she said. “It was like a fresh start…kind of like making out for the first time again.”
Keep the Time Amount Flexible
You can either hit pause and see how things go or choose an estimated length of time for your sex break. Chavez suggests setting a time allotment as a starting point and evaluating the break periodically, such as weekly or monthly. “Don’t feel guilty about taking the time,” she said. “Take as much time as you need… Focus less on the amount of time and more on how you are using that time to take care of your needs.”
Ease Thoughtfully Back In
Once you’re ready to resume sex, ease back in, keeping in mind that there’s no need to go back to your previous routine. In fact, you might really want to change things. “Use this as an opportunity to try new things and explore your sexuality, alone or with a partner,” Chavez recommended. “Set realistic expectations for making sex a priority. Focus on pleasure and not performance. Come up with erotic menus to try out so that sex doesn’t feel routine.”
Read: How to Find Inspiration for the Hottest BDSM Scenes
Set Healthy Intentions
Lastly, stay mindful of old habits that led to your need for a break in the first place, applying Chavez’s advice: “Set some intentions around sex that can enhance self-care and connection in your life.” A thoughtful sex break prioritizes your needs, respects your partner(s) and relationships and benefits everyone involved. It isn’t about denying pleasure, but making way for far more of it.