Girlfriend withholding intimacy

Withholding sex - Sexual withholding in a relationship

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You may not have heard the term sexual withholding, and instead may think of it as sexual rejection or a partner withholding sex from you. Here, Dr Katherine Hertlein, expert advisor at sex therapy app Blueheart explains what sexual withholding is, how to know if your partner is withholding sex from you (or if you are from them), and how to navigate sexual withholding in your relationship.

Withholding sex - what is sexual withholding?

Sexual withholding is a complex issue and it can fall into two categories.

Sexual withholding as a form of abuse: This is where one partner deliberately withholds sex and affection from their partner as a form of punishment or blackmail. This is an abuse strategy and can be a form of control within the relationship.

      Sexual withholding as an avoidance strategy: This form of sexual withholding is a deliberate avoidance of sex and intimacy within the relationship from both or either partner. This can manifest in several ways, whether that be through refusal, avoidance or a more nuanced sexual disinterest. When this happens, it can be hard for either partner to rekindle the passion and intimacy within the relationship. Feelings of self-exposure and judgment can leave both partners feeling confused, rejected, and resentful. All of these factors can unsettle, what can be, a perfectly healthy relationship.

      Ashley Armitage / Refinery29 for Getty Images

      Why do people withhold sex?

      Sexual withholding as an avoidance strategy often starts (and is perpetuated) by a breakdown in communication around a sexual issue or traumatic event. Either partner may dismiss sex or affection, sometimes frequently, and this comes across as disinterest. This can then cause both partners to stop initiating sex or intimacy, which results in sexual withholding.

      Alternatively, sexual withholding can happen due to a negative experience or issue around sex. This could be anything from erectile dysfunction or low libido to sexual trauma or the fact that there’s simply too much stress in their day-to-day life. Sometimes it can be because a partner feels pressured or overly self-conscious during sex.

      How to know if you're experiencing sexual withholding in your relationship

      If you’re experiencing sexual withholding in your relationship, it might look like the following:

      • Your partner frequently dismisses or avoids acts of affection or intimacy. This doesn’t have to just be sex, this can be dismissing holding hands, kissing, hugging or any form of general touch
      • Your partner often dismisses or rejects sex when you initiate it. They might say that they don’t feel like it, they’re too tired, or are too stressed
      • Avoiding situations that could lead to sex, such as date nights, going to be earlier, or getting up before their partner

        You should also be mindful about whether you are withholding sex from your partner. If you frequently avoid sexual interactions or dismiss displays of affection from them, then this could be a sign that sexual withholding is present within your relationship. More importantly, it’s important to explore, within yourself, the reasons you feel this way.

        Ashley Armitage / Refinery29 for Getty Images

        Can a couple recover from sexual withholding?

        Yes, but the only way to recover and repair the relationship is improved communication and complete honesty.

        The key to recovering from this is to have a conversation that acknowledges that there is a lack of intimacy within the relationship. Then, as a couple, consider the following questions:

        • How does it make you feel when there’s a lack of intimacy within the relationship?
        • What type of intimacy would you like to see in the relationship? Is it more sex, more holding hands, more words of affirmation, etc…
        • When did the lack of intimacy start or when did you become aware of it?
        • Is there a specific event or issue that you’d like to share with your partner, about why you feel this way?
        • How can your partner help you through this issue and make you feel comfortable?
        • Think back to when you initially met, what was your first intimate experience? What is your best memory as lovers?

          Ashley Armitage / Refinery29 for Getty Images

          Seeing a therapist

          While the advice above is a great way to start a conversation to address the issue of sexual withholding, if you find that the issue you want to speak about is a lot more complex and needs to be handled sensitively, it could beneficial to see a qualified sex therapist to mediate the conversation.

          Sometimes, trauma and extreme life events can make it very difficult to talk about these kinds of things with a partner and there may be ongoing issues that you still need to work through. This might be the case if you’ve experienced events such as miscarriage, sexual abuse or another traumatic event that has impacted your sex life or your relationship with your partner and will need handling sensitively.

          You can get access to qualified therapists and counsellors on the NHS or through a local directory.

          Signs Your Partner Resents You, Like Starting Fights and Refusing Sex


          If your partner starts fights over inconsequential things, he or she may resent you. Roman Kosolapov/Shutterstock
          • Resentment can stem from the perception that the relationship is unbalanced. If left unaddressed, it can lead to conflict or even a breakup. 
          • If your partner uses sarcasm in ways that are more hurtful than funny, doesn't celebrate your successes, or increasingly starts arguments over little things, he or she may resent you. 
          • If you sense resentment in your partner, it can help to calmly confront them and tell them how you feel. Talking to a therapist together or on your own is a good option too. 
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          Resentment is a type of unspoken anger that can poison otherwise happy relationships. It can stem from the perception that one partner has been treated unfairly or that the relationship is unbalanced in some way. If left to fester, unresolved resentment can cause serious conflict or even the end of a relationship.

          INSIDER spoke to relationship experts and psychologists to identify some of the warning signs that your partner may resent you.

          They make hurtful comments disguised as "jokes"

          No one likes to be mocked or criticized, especially by a loved one. A partner who is constantly cracking mean jokes at your expense or using sarcasm in a way that seems snide might be using humor to cloak their resentment.

          "If your partner makes fun of you or says biting things that hurt your feelings, but then hides behind 'it was just a joke,' there might be something else going on — especially if you tell them how it makes you feel, but it keeps happening," Lisa Marie Bobby, a psychologist and marriage and family therapist, told INSIDER.

          People who struggle with direct confrontation may use mean jokes as a way of indirectly calling attention to their negative feelings. However, this kind of humor is not only unpleasant, it can be emotionally abusive. Talking to a mental health professional about your situation can help you figure out whether the relationship is worth salvaging.

          Read more: A therapist reveals the issues that come up the most in couples therapy and how to address them

          You feel they no longer notice the nice things you do

          Part of maintaining a loving relationship is appreciating the helpful and caring things your partner does. Appreciation can take many forms, but if you suddenly feel as if all your thoughtful gestures are being overlooked, it might be a sign that your partner resents you.

          "The negative feelings they are harboring may make them more tuned in to your shortcomings and less interested in your positive attributes. You may feel like all your good efforts go unnoticed and that your partner only notices when you screw up," clinical psychologist and marriage counselor Luke Carrangis told INSIDER.

          Calmly confronting your partner about their perceived lack of appreciation for your efforts may help to initiate a conversation about how they're feeling and if they're dealing with any resentment.

          They seem to secretly enjoy when bad things happen to you

          Noticing that your partner seems to take pleasure in your pain or disappointment is a huge red flag.

          "If your partner is holding grudges and resentment toward you, they will be pleased when you're 'punished.' If your partner appears to be cavalier, uncaring, smug, or even a tiny bit gleeful when you are experiencing a setback or difficulty, you can be fairly certain they are angry with you," Bobby said. 

          It's natural to want your partner to be happy for you when good things come your way. Dealing with a partner who seems to delight in your misfortunate – or worse, sabotages your success – can be a huge relationship obstacle and may be a reason to rethink the partnership altogether.   

          Their behavior doesn't match their words

          Behavior is a form of communication that can be more revealing than spoken words. If your partner is assuring you that all is well but they're acting in a passive-aggressive way, resentment might be to blame.

          "Examples of passive aggression include when your partner agrees to do something but doesn't, says 'yes' but then shows you 'no,' or 'forgets' things that are important to you. In these cases, they may be communicating that they have unspoken resentments," Bobby said.

          A healthy relationship shouldn't involve constantly guessing at your partner's true feelings. Having a discussion about why your partner's behavior doesn't match their verbal communication is a good first step toward uncovering any hidden resentment.

          They start arguments more often

          If your formerly easy-going partner becomes more openly critical or starts to pick fights over seemingly insignificant issues, it might be a clue that they're struggling with hidden resentment.

          "One sign of resentment is arguing over inconsequential things. If you're getting pushback or criticism for how you're hanging the toilet paper or slicing the tomato, chances are your partner has bad feelings simmering under the surface that need to be aired," Bobby said.  

          It can be hard to break patterns of destructive or negative communication once they start. Talking to a licensed therapist as a couple or on your own may help you figure out if resentment is at the root of your frequent fighting.

          They seem less interested in physical affection

          It's common for a partner who feels resentful to lose interest in physical affection. They may make excuses to avoid intimacy, which may then create feelings of hurt and resentment on both sides of the relationship.    

          "For many people, desire is not possible when feeling resentment. Sex may be initiated less or not at all. Kissing may completely stop or become limited to a quick peck rather than a passionate exchange," certified sex therapist Krista Jarvis told INSIDER.

          Others may become more demanding around sex when they feel resentful, Javis said. For some, demanding more sex may be a way to feel a sense of control. If they are feeling resentful about one unmet need in the relationship, they may want their partner to "pay" by meeting another.

          They stop doing little thoughtful things

          A resentful partner may stop doing the small things they once did that made you feel special, such as picking up your favorite snack at the store, making sure you have clean socks, or clearing your windshield of ice on a cold morning.

          "A partner who feels resentful will likely stop doing the little things they used to do to show they care. It can be difficult to bring ourselves to express thoughtfulness and kindness to someone we resent," Jarvis said.

          However, just because your partner stops making as many thoughtful gestures doesn't mean they resent you. It could be that they're dealing with additional stress or time constraints outside of your relationship. It's worth talking to your partner about how you're both feeling if you notice a change in their usual behavior.

          • Read more:
          • How fishing can be a surprising way to boost both your love life and your mental wellbeing
          • 6 signs you're a bad kisser, even if you think you aren't
          • 7 ways millennials are changing marriage, from signing prenups to staying together longer than past generations
          • The benefits of sex in your 20s, 30s, 40s, and beyond

          women confessed why they refuse sex


          Moreover, these difficulties concern only the male sex - the beautiful half of humanity does not suffer from them / frame from the movie "What Women Want"

          In English An online survey appeared on the Daily Mail portal, in which women speak frankly about the reasons for refusing intimacy with men. Vechernyaya Moskva shares the results of the survey.

          Unattractive partner

          One reason for rejection is the unattractiveness of the partner when women introduce someone else during sex. A sign that a woman is forced to represent someone else in order to get pleasure is a bad sign in a relationship.


          A common reason for refusing to have sex is complexes and dissatisfaction with one's own appearance. Some girls refuse intimacy even because of ... vegetation in bikini areas. And some of the respondents said that they avoid intimacy only because they do not want to appear naked in front of their partner.

          These reasons are purely psychological, and in order to establish an intimate life, you must first deal with your own "cockroaches".

          Fear of pregnancy

          This cause is most common among young girls. To get rid of the fear of pregnancy, there is a good proven way - the use of contraceptives.

          According to Tsvetkov’s dream book, pregnancy is a deception for young girls and a joy for a woman / a frame from the movie “A Little Bit Pregnant” (2007)

          Rudeness of a partner

          Rude behavior of a partner is a good reason to refuse sex. If a man speaks disrespectfully about a woman's body, laughs at her, or, worse, tries to force her into intimacy, this indicates the partner's selfishness. This is a wake-up call that something is wrong with your relationship.

          Lack of orgasm

          Some women are afraid to openly tell their partner that they cannot achieve orgasm, and that sometimes they have to fake it.


          Daria Chunina, psychologist:

          – It is quite natural for a woman to refuse intimacy if she has lost her desire for it. This does not mean at all that she does not experience pleasure from intimacy or does not love, does not want her partner. In addition to the reasons indicated in this survey, there are other equally objective reasons to say “no” to sex for a while. Poor health, ailments, critical days are quite weighty reasons. Surprisingly, none of the respondents admitted that they could refuse intimacy due to depression and stress, since they can significantly affect the state and sexual desire of a woman.

          Alexander Poleev, sexologist, MD:

          - Daily Mail survey - non-scientific. The first and, perhaps, the main reason for not having sex with a more or less permanent partner is sexual boredom, lack of variety. As a result, sex does not lead to pleasure and relaxation. So why bother with them then? Plus, it should be taken into account that approximately 33-34 percent of Russian women do not experience orgasm at all. The second reason for refusal is that women, in principle, need less sex. The sexual desire of both sexes depends on the level of testosterone. So, men have 15 times more of this hormone! And if it were the same, then prostitution would simply not exist, because the attraction would be equal. The third reason for refusal is critical days, as well as the state before and after them. Well, just do not want a woman! And, finally, a woman is against sex if she is offended by a lack of attention and affection. Then she does not want the situation of symbolic submission, which always occurs in the course of sexual intercourse.

          Marina Dokuchaeva, psychologist:

          — I think that the main reason a woman refuses to have sex is if a man does not regularly satisfy her. A woman does not want to experience sexual arousal, and then go to bed unsatisfied. Often the cause of failure is chronic stress. After all, in order to want to have sex, you need to tune in to it. But a woman is often unable to switch. She literally "doesn't care", because she is in a state of neurosis or even prolonged depression, when she wants literally nothing. The third reason follows from the second - it is fatigue. The fact is that a woman, unlike a man, plays several social roles. A man, as a rule, is limited to the role of a breadwinner. And a woman is a breadwinner, a mother, and a housewife. If at the same time she is also a perfectionist, i.e. tries to do everything as well as possible, then it is simply not enough for sex. By evening, such fatigue accumulates that there are no physical or emotional resources anymore.

          12 reasons why she refuses you sex - Knife

          You piss me off

          Of course you didn't notice, but you naturally piss me off. You are 32, and you continue to leave unfinished bottles of beer all over the apartment, which tip over into slippers at home. She's hinted fifteen thousand times that she wants to take a week off from her hard work at the spa, and you're gleefully shaking Archstoyanie tickets and a mosquito net. You don't like her sensational post with 200 comments. In general, it has become easier to live without you, and to breed with you - brr.

          You don't seem to consider yourself an alpha male

          Women are not turned on by slouching, stifled chuckles at your own joke, and the smell of laundry soap coming from your shirt thanks to a caring mother. When a loved one does not feel your confidence in her own sexuality (and it is difficult to feel if she is not), even pity for a glorious chick who looks with such loving eyes will not make her undress.

          Sex with you is perceived as a duty

          She watches a movie where a big-eyed macho man with lush hair spends an hour and a half trying to get at least a kiss from the heroine, and then you call her to a daily hour-long pant marathon - and with full confidence in her right. As Gosha Kutsenko said to Lenka Shabadinova, well, fig.

          You neglect hygiene

          Remember, before you managed to break your leg to get away from the army, your father used to scare you with an ensign that forces you to clean toilets with a toothbrush for being 10 seconds late to line up? Now imagine that the ensign makes you use this toothbrush the next morning. This is how a woman feels when you playfully move your hips, and it becomes obvious that these boxers with duckies were on you yesterday and the day before. Yes, it is difficult for you to assess the scale of the disaster, because you are not gay and used underwear (women's) only turns you on. Then go to the women's restroom of your office for a minute, and then go to the men's room. Do you feel the smell of the Russian spirit?

          You can't do anything

          At first she had feelings for you, and they compensated for your clumsiness. Three months later, she realized that you were together for a long time, but by this time she was already embarrassed to tell a potential groom that his habit of slobbering a person from head to toe is more suitable for a bored Labrador. Many men are confident in their talents until old age only because many women are too tactful. Girls, let's stop and see what happens?

          She stopped having an orgasm with you

          About 40% of women experience difficulties with orgasm, and you are not the only one to blame for this. It’s just that we are more often shamed both for the initiative (“whore!”), And for some bodily features (“it’s okay if it’s just a whore, and also unshaven!”). You can’t discount the fact that in long-term relationships, women relax and corrode, and then suffer and don’t like themselves. That's what happens with an orgasm - it's easier to do something yourself than to figure out the failures of a scheme in which two people participate. Girls, let's not?

          She is really tired

          A Russian woman suffers from an excellent student complex and is ready to take on everything: home, work, and then a TV series for half an hour, blogs about cosmetics to read for the soul - well, that’s all, the only strength left is to throw the laundry into the washer. And you are happy to let her do it! The more often you drive your girlfriend away from the stove and convince her that you love her not for labor exploits, the more she will relax and indulge her carnal desires.

          You stopped admiring her

          “Now tell me how much you love me!” is not only a phrase from a stupid rom-com, but also an urgent need for millions of poor things who grew up looking into the mirror of male perception. You stopped saying nice things to her because you think that she already understood and remembered your opinion about herself. And she thinks - because you have cooled off. And since they have cooled mentally, it means that they have also physically cooled off (women cool off just like that). So you get a sad log in bed.

          "Is that all my rose bloomed for?"

          Suppose you won it and stopped there. But she has not yet given birth to two, has not taken a mortgage with you, has not swooned and has not calmed down. Naturally, she may have doubts about the correct choice of a partner - well, as if men do not have them. The only difference is that most women choose every time as the last. And if the first passions subsided, and you do not express a desire to progress towards an ideal husband, this affects her libido, alas.

          You are too conservative

          Yes, women are usually blamed for this. But if you are lucky and your beloved brings home a blue vibrator and edible panties, her eyes are burning, and you are scared and you crawl away to the far corner of the sofa, like a cat from a cucumber - well, then don’t blame me that you won’t want to sleep with you at all.

          She feels so good

          You are as cozy in your vest as a plush penguin, you talk about geopolitics with such passion, you are so seriously proud of your new mormyshka, oh you hare! And sex for her is the languor of Pharaoh, Zac Efron's sports trunks and the tracks of the Vulgar Molly group.

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