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When Russell Wilson came out in July of this year and said he and girlfriend Ciara are abstaining from sex until marriage they were met with a resounding, “huh?”
And just last week, former footballer and funnyman Terry Crews told HuffPost that he and his wife completed a 90-day “sex fast,” which got us thinking maybe these guys are on to something.
Those three months, Crews says, left him “more in love” and “more turned on” than ever. “…no sex, all relationship, all talk, all cuddle,” he added. “I found that at the end of that 90 days … I knew who she was, and it wasn’t about ‘Let’s go out because I know I’m gonna get some sex later.’ It was like, ‘Let’s go because I want to talk to you. I want to know you’.”
For some people, sex helps them connect with their partner and for other people, they need to feel connected with their partner to desire sex, explains Megan Fleming, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and relationship therapist. Crews identifies with the latter.
“You’re not looking for porn,” he said. “You’re looking for someone to know you and love you at the same time. That’s all you want—every man out there. But he’s scared sometimes. That’s why men put up big fronts.”
If you’re still not convinced a so-called sex fast is for you, we outlined some of the reasons and benefits with Fleming’s advice.
Reignite passion in your relationship…
“So often it’s truly about feeling like your partner sees and wants you,” Fleming says. Taking the routine of sex out of the picture can help you fall in love with your partner again and force you to take notice of things you’ve become desensitized to. Plus, when the duration of the fast is up you’ll be dying to match your newfound emotional intimacy with some physical intimacy. “Feeling desired by your partner is the biggest turn on,” Fleming adds. And knowing they desire you and you alone is perhaps even better.
Help you connect with your partner…
“I consider sex to be the glue of a relationship, because it brings dopamine and oxytocin, which give [feelings of] both pleasure and attachment to your nervous system,” Fleming says. A fast from sex can help determine if your relationship is more than just physical. If you can build a foundation—or build on the one you already have—by getting to learn more about your partner’s background, interests, fears, hopes, etc., you can foster a stronger connection. “Sex enables you to feel truly alive and present with your partner,” she adds, so you can quite literally seal the deal on a stronger relationship after your fast by breaking abstinence with, yes, sex.
Discern lust from love…
It’s difficult to discern lust from love in the initial stage of a relationship because the chemistry, passion, and neurotransmitter-fueled romantic “love cocktail” you’re drunk on is meant to end, Fleming explains. In the beginning, you feel an amazing connection but you don’t really know this person. It’s all projection. You’re in the “honeymoon phase.”
“For men like Russel Wilson, coming out and saying they aren’t having sex (delaying sex) because they want to focus on coming together as a couple, I think that’s great,” Fleming says. Taking the time to figure out if you truly like the person you’re dating—without the dopamine kick—helps you to get a better sense of what draws you to a person and the type of relationship you need that meets your core values and deepest needs.