The term “making love” naturally conjures up some positive feelings. “Making love” is romantic. Sweet. Caring. And, well, loving. The ultimate way to convey our deeply intimate feelings for our partner through a physical expression of affection.
But as any sexually active person knows, “making love” is far from the only way we can have sex. Other expressions for sex range from funny euphemisms, like “knocking boots” or “shagging” to more expletive terms I won’t spell out here! In other words, there are lots of different feelings we bring to the table when we’re having sex that can change the tone and experience of our sexual encounter.
And while sex can range from being romantic and sweet, to raunchy and dirty to…well just a little bit boring, there are times when having sex could be unhealthy for your relationship. Specifically, these are three reasons that you may want to avoid having sex with your partner:
1. If You Don’t Want Your Partner To Get Upset
There are plenty of healthy times where we might choose to have sex with our partner that’s more for them than it is for us. Say, for example, your partner is in the mood to have sex this time and you’re not – but they had sex with you when you were feeling randy the last time as they were trying to fall asleep. In other words, you might choose to have sex with your partner as a bit of a relationship quid pro quo. Or you choose to have sex when you’re not so much in the mood but your partner has just been all-kinds-of-awesome recently and you want to be close to them.
But it’s important to remember that our reasons for having sex (if they aren’t super hot, lustful feelings) are for positive, relationship affirming reasons and not to avoid a negative reaction or consequence. It can be a very toxic dynamic if we are having sex with our partner because they are laying a guilt trip on us. Or because they were pouting. Or because we know they might get mad about it if we say no.
Research has found that when we have sex to avoid our partner’s negative feelings it leads to lower sexual and relationship satisfaction. And it’s not hard to see why. After all, who wants to have sex with our partner just so they don’t pout about it?? It doesn’t feel good during sex for either party. Plus this sort of dynamic around sex likely spells some larger relationship problems that would benefit from being addressed outside of the bedroom.
2. If You’re Really Uncomfortable With the Sexual Activity
As I have written about in past blogs, one of the keys to the “best sex ever” is to have authentic sex which feels within the realm of comfort for you. In contrast, having sex that doesn’t feel like “us” is may not be healthy for your sexual relationship, particularly if your partner is trying to convince you to do something you don’t want to do.
If anal sex is just a flat out “no-go” for you, don’t let yourself be talked into it just to seem more “adventurous.” If inviting a third party into the mix makes you feel disrespected, nip that conversation in the bud. There are always times to be curious and creative in the bedroom, but as the saying goes: know your limits and play within it. The last thing you want to do is agree to something you’re not comfortable with it and it drive you and your partner further apart.
Plus, any healthy romantic partner should respect you, be mindful of your boundaries and not push you to do something you really don’t want to do.
3. If It Hurts
Some people like to experience a bit of pain during sex. For example, the popularity of the book series “50 Shades of Grey” has increased the interest in BDSM-type practices for all sorts of couples. But wanted, playful pain is hugely different from unwanted pain. If sex really hurts, don’t push yourself to do it.
As therapists we work with lots of folks who feel some discomfort during sex. Sometimes we can help people relax their bodies and/or work through past trauma so the sexual sensations feel more comfortable and pleasurable. But there are other times where people (both men and women) can feel a deep sensation of pain that won’t easily go away with relaxation techniques and relationship therapy.
Pain during sex for these people can be excruciating. Sometimes people report sharp shooting pains, a slow burn, raw friction and even bleeding. If this is you do not push through it. It negatively reinforces the connection between sex and bad pain and can make you feel further and further away from your partner – as trying to shut-down the pain also shuts your partner out.
Instead of having sex in this situation, it could be far better for you to seek medical and therapeutic support for your pain directly and give sex (or at least traditional sexual activity) a bit of a hiatus in the meantime.
As much as we may think of sex as something that can feel good if we just try hard enough (or introduce enough new tricks and tips) sometimes having sex can do more harm than good for your relationship. If you’re using sex as a way to avoid your partner’s bad mood or reaction, if you’re being asked to do something during sex that you’re really uncomfortable with, or if sex is painful, it may be best to not have sex in those scenarios and address the larger relationship and/or physical issues that may be at play.