Like women, men sometimes weaponize sexuality.
By T J Jordan
When men withhold sex from an intimate partner, they are inflicting a kind of psychological abuse, a passive-aggressive punishment by withdrawal of warmth. Withholding sex is an unhealthy power play, an exercise in indifference that turns our bedrooms and our playrooms into battlegrounds, and inflicts irreversible emotional damage to the gifts of trust and respect.
Sex between intimate partners is a heart-opening experience of desire and acceptance. When one partner chooses to close down sex, they close off paths to connection and joy, and put coldness where warmth is needed. They short-circuit possibilities for intimacy and destroy a crucial part of the scaffolding of their relationship.
We aren't accustomed to women raising the issue of lack of sex in their relationships because we have adopted the false belief that men need more sex than women, and that women can always get as much sex as they want. But this misses the point that men withhold sex from their partners as a passive-aggressive way of exerting control and refusing warmth. This is a denial of essential emotional connection, which is needed by all of us regardless of gender, in order to flourish in fully lived lives.
Withholding Sex Is Emotional Abuse
Withholding sex is completely different from not having sex due to a lack of love or as a result of illness or sexual dysfunction. (The issue here is not an absence of sex due to illness or injury — we all need brief moratoriums on sex at various points in our lives.)
Choosing to withhold sex is a form of psychological abuse that reveals a desire for some kind of control by a partner who feels emotionally impotent. It is a statement of resentment. And resentment is a kind of anger that destroys relationships.
Withholding sex is punishment by indifference and coldness. It reveals without doubt a troubled intimacy. Men who withhold sex often feel conflicted about love and seek to protect themselves in a way that is less than courageous.