There are different ways people respond to offenses when offended by their partners. Some of the common reactions include silent treatment, deserting the home and acting strangely. But, one that is of interest in this context is sex starvation, whereby the aggrieved person denies the partner of sex, even when they expressly demand for it.
According to experts, denying a partner of sex could be harmful to a relationship.
Perhaps, one could surmise that in this part of the world, it is more harmful if the man is the one deprived of sex because the society seems to be lenient with men if they resort to cheating, while women are forbidden from doing same; it seems unforgivable for married women to cheat.
Thus, a British sociologist, Dr Catherine Hakim, explained in her post on Mail Online that the consequences of such starvation could be deeply worrying. She began:
“For such sexual drought has a profoundly negative effect on our society; fracturing families and potentially leading to violence and crime. I’ve found that deep sexual frustration results in men having affairs, and then, all too often, divorce and family breakdown.
“Sexually starved men are more likely to visit prostitutes, view pornography and, in the worst cases, even molest other women. So, insisting on fidelity within a marriage is all well and good, but unless women ensure they are also having enough sex with their husbands, they are calling catastrophe into their lives.”
Also, a psychiatrist and fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, Dr Scott Haltzman, pointed out that when individuals use sex as a form of behaviour management, it could damage a relationship. He therefore gave three reasons why sex should not be used as a punishment, and these are:
It could breed infidelity: This is perhaps the commonest consequence of depriving a partner of sex, given the importance of sex to an adult and the pivotal role it plays in a marriage. Thus, when people feel rejected, it could drive them into trying someone else. Haltzman said,
“Sexual relationship is a necessary part of every marriage. There’s no other place your partner can get sex except with you, so to be withholding sex as punishment may unconsciously give the message that he or she would be better off getting sex elsewhere, and it could lead to affairs.”
It breeds resentment: Like silent treatment in marriage, denying a partner of sex has been found to create further conflict, breed resentment and alienation. Haltzman warned that it could widen the gap between couples and lead to other problems. He added,
“Two individuals in a marriage will always have different needs at different times, and part of the challenge of a happy marriage is to negotiate getting needs met.
But withholding sex isn’t negotiating, it’s blackmail, and your partner is likely to feel manipulated. Over time, that kind of withholding until conditions are met stirs resentment and alienation in your partner.”
Sustained deprivation could signal waning love: One could safely say that sex is one of the ways of showing love to a partner. Thus, Haltzman, in his post on The Staten Island Family argues that when a partner denies the spouse of sex, the person on the receiving end could possibly see it as a subtle signal that the love between them had begun to wane. He added,
“Sex is a way of showing love. If you don’t believe it, think back to when you and your partner first started getting it on. Married partners should always be looking for ways to demonstrate affection, but when sex is withheld as punishment, it gives the opposite message.
Like it or not, withholding sex may make your partner feel less love from you, and, contrary to what you would like to see, he or she may give you less love in return.”