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Have you ever told someone you don’t want to have sex with them? Everybody has at some point in their life. There are an infinite number of reasons why you might not want to have sex with someone; perhaps you’re not feeling well, you may have suffered from a Trauma in the past, or maybe you’re just not interested in having sex. These are all perfectly normal.

However, to withhold sex from someone as punishment though, is an entirely different matter. Withholding sex to punish your partner is a form of emotional abuse. To be completely clear, it is okay to tell your partner you don’t want to have sex, but to tell them you won’t have sex with them because they have done something wrong can be considered abusive, if done repeatedly.

The reason for someone withholding sex will differ from person to person, however it is typically the result of past abuse or trauma. It might appear to be part of a well-thought-out plan, although it is almost always compulsive. Furthermore, it is usually as painful for the person withholding, as the person who is being deprived. Due to the nature of the behaviour, it can also serve to reinforce itself, whereby the person withholding gets what they want by withholding, therefore it proves to be effective tool, making it more likely they will use it in the future and compounding the pattern of isolation.

The most important part of relationships is communication. If you feel as though your partner is withholding sex from you, starting a conversation about it and showing them you care about their feelings is going to be one of the best ways to help them; remember, people who withhold sex have typically suffered from some form of abuse in the past.

You can also contact us at BayPsych, if you would rather speak to one of our psychologists about you and your partner’s current situation. You can call us on 3488 0483 or email us at

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