What a Sex Therapist Advises to Couples Who ‘Save’ Sex for Special Occasions

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For many folks in partnered, sexual relationships, it's common for the frequency of sex to wane as time goes on. Whether it's the novelty of being with a new partner, the novelty of being able to have as much sex as you want as often as you want, a generally high libido, or otherwise, sex in the honeymoon stage is, for many, simply more abundant. Of course, for some couples, that frequency remains constant or may even increase with time—we're all different and so is every sexual relationship. But for some couples, sex frequency may dwindle as time passes—maybe even to just special occasions like birthdays, holidays, and anniversaries. And, according to certified sex therapist Jacqueline Méndez, LMFT, saving sex for special occasions in't necessarily a bad thing.

“There are people who engage in romantic, affectionate ways that don't necessarily lead to sex all of the time,” says Méndez. “Those who save it for more special occasions [might feel] like sex is meant to be sacred. It's meant to be special.” And for people on the asexuality spectrum, sex may not even be part of their entirely intimate, fulfilling relationship.

“People who save sex for special occasions…don't necessarily need sex to nourish that relationship emotionally.” —Jacqueline Méndez, LMFT

If someone’s a fan of saving sex for special occasions, it doesn’t automatically mean they lack physical attraction to their partner that stands to facilitate ongoing connection and all forms of intimacy. Rather, perhaps they consider sex to be “a physical demonstration of love towards somebody else,” Méndez says.

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Also, she adds, it's just as acceptable to have sex once in a while as it is to do so daily, because while sex is important, it’s not the sole factor in romantic relationships. “Relationships start with emotional connection. That’s really what’s sustaining people,” says Méndez. “People who usually save sex for special occasions have really tapped into that, so they don't necessarily need sex to nourish that relationship emotionally,” she adds.

Even so, there are ways to keep your intimate connection strong without engaging in sex. For instance, you can focus on dialing up the anticipation about when that special occasion sex does take place. Regardless of how often you have sex, you can talk about the sex you've already had to both stir up some excitement for next time and communicate about what everyone involved liked (and perhaps didn't like). This exercise can help ensure more pleasurable experiences down the road.

For instance, you might discuss what made, or would make, sex meaningful for you. And if there’s something you’ve been wanting to try—a new sexual position or experimenting with BDSM accessories, perhaps—that's also a good topic to cover during these conversations. Ultimately, having these discussions between sex sessions can ensure that the sexual energy is present, even when sexual activity might not be.

What to do if you and your partner don’t agree on saving sex for special occasions

Communication is key, says Méndez, adding that to effectively have a chat about this mismatch in sexual appetite, you and your partner need to be transparent in your intentions and expectations. “Sometimes we forget what sex means to each other,” says Méndez.” For one partner, it might be a way to get closer, but for another partner, it may be a moment of celebration.”

That’s why Méndez encourages people to have a conversation about why sex is important to each of you and which functions it serves for you. “Sometimes, when partners focus on the underlying importance…it takes the pressure off the actual act,” Méndez says.

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