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Corbis Images

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When asked about the sexual satisfaction they feel in their relationships, a majority of men (54 percent) and nearly as many women (42 percent) said they were unhappy with the frequency of sex, according to a report published in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy. For the most part, the men were dissatisfied with the lack of sex in their relationships, while a small portion of women admitted to wanting more. However, a majority of the women surveyed said they were getting more than they wanted and actually would settle for less. It’s clear that when it comes to sex within a partnership, men and women are not always on the same page. So what does this mean for people who want to abstain from having sex altogether, but already happen to be in a relationship where intercourse is pretty consistent? 

Being celibate, or rather, abstaining from sex for a period, seems to be a lifestyle choice that many people are making these days in the hopes of strengthening their bonds and building something more wholesome with another individual. We see the smiles, hear the success stories and listen to all of the benefits of being in a celibate relationship, but we rarely hear stories of couples who tried abstaining from sex and found that it ended up doing more harm than good. Some have a hard time making it work, and it’s usually because one person is on board and the other isn’t. Transitioning to a sexless relationship when sex was routine is tough, but with time, patience and willpower from both involved, it’s not impossible.

Clear Communication And Intent

You wake up one day and decide you’re bored with the way things are going in your relationship, therefore, you find yourself less and less in the mood for sex. There’s no intimacy in your relationship, and you just want things to change, so you think going without sex is the answer to getting things back on the good foot. However, you fail to communicate this to your partner. It starts with a brushoff after a date night where he tried to cop a feel to get things going. The brushoffs become frequent and problems start to arise. You find yourselves bickering about small things, arguing, and avoiding spending time together. He begins to question whether you’re still physically attracted to him, even though you are, but you feel like at this point in your relationship, something’s gotta give. The problem is, you don’t adequately communicate these things to him.

Making the choice to abstain from sex is much like dieting. It shifts every aspect of your life, and if there isn’t a set goal or intent, it’s easy to fall off the wagon and relapse on the things that are problematic. There should be a verbal dialog happening between you and your partner, not just a physical change. This open communication should be able to clearly and thoroughly explain to your partner what the goal is so that you’re both actually working towards something, together. Is this a temporary situation? Are we abstaining from ALL forms of sex? What are some things we need to work on during this process? Never leave your partner in the dark about something that affects them as well.

Find Productive Replacements

Given the fact that you’ve been dating for quite some time, you’re at a place where you know each other’s triggers. The best thing to do when transitioning is to avoid those triggers. You’re aware that touching the back of his neck turns him on, and he knows that your thigh is a sensitive spot that should not be toyed with. Date night is twice a week and the night is usually capped off with some between-the-sheets fun. Try replacing it with something less physical. Maybe just cuddling? 

Remember: Baby Steps

Be aware that you are the example that your partner is following, especially if they’re having problems with getting on board. Stand firm in your decision, and when your partner sees how serious you are, they’ll have no choice but to act accordingly. But if you’re preaching about a celibate relationship, and then creating a bunch of self-serving terms that still allow you to get off, such as receiving oral sex and hand play, then they will see that loophole and make it bigger. As I said, it’s not easy trying to be in a sexless relationship with someone you’ve already been sexual with while trying to ignore those natural urges. But it gets easier as time goes by and habits are formed. You can expect a few slip-ups in the beginning, but the conversations and intent set should be the things to hold you accountable and keep you on track.

Handling Non-Negotiables

Abstaining from sex, for you, is non-negotiable. It’s something that you won’t back down on because you truly believe it will make for stronger relationships with others and most importantly, with yourself. Giving up sex is a non-negotiable for your partner. It’s not something they feel will fix your problems, and they believe that it will make things worse. So what do you do? Well, there’re only two things that can happen: Either you give up abstaining from sex to satisfy your partner or they give up sex to satisfy you. At the end of the day, someone will be compromising something they feel strongly about, which means you really have to evaluate your relationship and whether both parties feel the other is worth the work and give-and-take. 

Celibacy isn’t just a trending topic these days; it’s an entire lifestyle change many are taking seriously. It affects you in a physical way, but also spiritually, mentally and emotionally. It affects the way you interact with others, and it affects the way you love and view yourself. Making the choice isn’t easy, and there will be some highs and lows, especially when you’re in a relationship and you really want it to work with the person you love. It’s a tough transition, but not an impossible one.

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