Have you ever found yourself saying, “He’s not getting it tonight” when your partner upset you? It’s okay to refuse sex if something your partner does kills the mood; however, using it as leverage is manipulative and will negatively impact your relationship. In this article, you’ll learn what healthy relationships look like, why manipulation is wrong, and what you can do to fix things to reach newfound sexual empowerment and health in your intimacy.
What Does it Mean to Use Sex as a Leverage?
Using sex as leverage is a type of manipulation that allows one partner to coerce the other into doing what they want. This kind of manipulation might take on many forms. It might look like simply saying no to having sex with an intent to punish your partner. It might also look like saying things like “I’ll only have sex with you if you…” and only agreeing to sex to reward behavior.
In some cases, not taking care of your appearance might also be considered manipulation. If you’d previously cared about looking appealing to your partner, doing the opposite might be quite a punishment, especially for a man who is more ‘visual’. bywinona.com
Since men tend to be the ones who want to have sex more often, the way they use sex as leverage might differ. For example, they’re more likely to manipulate their partners into having sex by threatening to leave. They might also say things like, “If you don’t have sex with me, I’ll look for it elsewhere” or “If you have sex with me, I’ll clean the house”.
Why Should You Never Use Sex as a Leverage
In healthy relationships, there’s no space for manipulation. Using sex as leverage in a relationship is wrong because it shows that you have no respect for your partner’s feelings and that you don’t see him as an equal.
Here are other reasons why this kind of behavior is harmful:
1. It makes you play into societal roles
Have you ever heard of the phrase, ‘A key that opens many locks is a good key, but a lock that can be opened by many keys isn’t a good lock’ or something along these lines?
This kind of rhetoric fuels slut shaming and creates inequality between genders. Every time you refuse to have sex with your partner just because you want to punish him and not because you aren’t in the mood, you’re enforcing the view that sex is something a woman should guard and something a man should earn. But in all healthy relationships, sex is a mutual enjoyment where respect is as important as orgasm.
2. It’s degrading
Unless you’re in a BDSM relationship and this kind of power play is a part of your or your partner’s kink, having sex as a way to reward behavior or withholding it to punish a behavior is degrading. Your partner isn’t a dog that can be trained to behave the way you want him to but a human with feelings.
Plus, if you use sex as a weapon, you’re essentially depriving yourself of having your sexual needs met for the sake of being in control. Using this kind of manipulation in a relationship is pointless because no one is winning, and unfortunately, both have a lot to lose.
3. It means your relationship needs work
All healthy relationships have two main things in common: mutual respect and good communication skills. If you refuse to be intimate with your partner in hopes that it will teach him not to repeat a hurtful behavior, this can easily backfire. Your partner might soon become resentful and might hide his wrongdoings instead of having an honest conversation with you. And most importantly, this kind of manipulation prevents you from solving the real issue, which should be your goal.
4. It makes you view sex as a currency
Sex is in a committed relationship is about meeting your physical but also emotional needs. If you see it as a currency and frequently use it to manipulate your partner, you’re risking damaging the bond you have with him.
When you deny your partner sex just because you’re seeking revenge, you’re essentially aiming to hurt him and sending him a message that you only want to be intimate with him in exchange for something. This can impact his self-esteem and decrease your self-respect.
5. It might make your partner expect sex as a reward all the time
The more you rely on this form of manipulation, the more you might condition your partner to expect sex in return whenever he does you a favor. If you notice that your partner suddenly sulks when you refuse sex, it might be a sign that you’ve taken things too far.
6. It can destroy your sex life
Sex and love go hand in hand, and you should only have sex with someone because you want to, care about their needs and feel in the mood, not as a part of a power game. In healthy relationships, both parties are equal.
At first, being in control might give you the rush, but once the manipulation becomes a part of your usual dynamic, you can forget ever having enjoyable sex again. It’s not worth sacrificing your relationship and pleasure for.
How to Stop Seeing Sex as a Weapon?
Even though you probably realize how harmful this mindset is, some behaviors might be understandably difficult to unlearn, and sexual relationships can be complicated. Since women are still shamed for having sex and enjoying it, it’s possible to be conditioned to feel in control when withholding sex and forget your partner’s feelings. Here’s what you can do if you struggle not to use sex as leverage:
1. Consider why you’re doing it
Is it to make your partner finally do the dishes or finally clean the house? Or maybe to punish him for not giving you as much attention? Whatever the reason is, this tactic is unlikely to solve the issue, and even if it does, it will come at a price. Try to analyze your past behavior to find out if you lean towards rewarding good behavior or punishing undesired behavior more; it will help you get to the root of the problem.
2. Look at things from a different perspective
Instead of focusing on what you can achieve when you manipulate your partner, try to think of long-term consequences. Put yourself in your partner’s shoes and consider how you’d feel if he did the same thing to you.
3. Stop seeing sex as something to be earned
Women enjoy having sex just like men do, and there’s no shame in that. Remind yourself that sex and love are pretty similar; whether you’re naked or not, mutual respect is the key to having a healthy relationship.
4. Talk to your partner
Healthy relationships are built on trust. If there’s something you don’t like in your partner’s behavior, the easiest way to resolve the issue is by having an honest conversation. There’s no reason to say no to pleasure when you can just talk things through, especially that postponing it might hurt you in many other ways too.