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Last Updated on January 29, 2018

Having Sex Could Be Hurting Your Relationship Without You Knowing

Having Sex Could Be Hurting Your Relationship Without You Knowing

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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Take Away

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.

More by this author

Sarah Hunter Murray, PhD

Sex Researcher & Relationship Therapist

Having Sex Could Be Hurting Your Relationship Without You Knowing

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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