The idea of going on a “sex fast” with your partner might seem counterproductive, but according to some, it can be hugely beneficial to your relationship.
At least, that’s what Kourtney Kardashian said recently in an interview with Bustle.
The 42-year-old told the publication that she and her fiancé Travis Barker previously took part in an Ayurvedic cleanse and that one of the components of the cleanse featured a so-called sex fast.
The phrase means exactly what you think it would: willingly abstaining from sex with your partner for an extended period of time.
Explaining the benefits of her fast with Barker, Kardashian told the publication: “Oh my God, it was crazy,” before noting, “But it actually made everything better.”
“Like, if you can’t have caffeine, when you have your first Matcha, it’s so good,” the Keeping Up with the Kardashians star added.
While the concept might be unfamiliar to some, going on a sex fast is something relationship counselors might prescribe to couples struggling with intimacy.
“Sex fasting can be one way to reignite their passion for each other,” says dating psychologist Dr Madeleine Mason Roantree.
“It could, ironically, be particularly helpful to the couples whose sex-life is non-existent,” she adds. “The trick is for both parties to be on board with the idea of abstinence.”
A sex fast of sorts has worked for Jack*, 31, who explains that he and his wife of three years have regular periods of abstinence.
“It has been completely transformative for us,” he says of their routine, which sees them sleeping in separate bedrooms during the week, and reuniting at weekends.
“That means you get a great night’s sleep on busy work nights (or just when it’s hot weather or someone works late) and feel good the next day,” he explains.
“Then, with more energy, you are more awake for each other on the ‘together’ nights. Also, it’s exciting again sharing a bed with someone, feeling someone lying in bed next to you.”
Jack describes it as “the 5:2 diet but for sleeping together” and adds that it can be particularly beneficial for couples working together from home.
“You can both get under each other’s feet all week and you lose the excitement for each other,” he says. “Not sharing a bed every night, brings that back.”
There’s a psychological explanation behind this, says Mason. “A switch gets flipped when something like this is forbidden,” she explains.
“After some time, couples will find that they increasingly want more of what they aren’t allowed.”
Mason adds that there are additional exercises couples can take if they want to maximize the benefits of their fast.
“For these couples, I would recommend an exercise called ‘sensate focus’, which requires couples to allocate some time in the week, around an hour or so, taking turns to be sensual with one another,” she says.
“First, try touching non-erogenous zones without kissing or having intercourse, then gradually over the weeks increasing to including erogenous zones and eventually intercourse.
“The exercise is broken into levels, and over a few weeks, they work their way through these levels, with the idea of increasing communication between. They learn about what touch they and their partners prefer and what feels good to them.”
This not only improves couple intimacy, says Mason, but it can also help with a number of sex difficulties, from erectile dysfunction and vaginismus to low libido and low mood. It can also recalibrate to high sex drive.
“I think it’s a healthy thing for any couple to try,” she adds. “People don’t come with manuals. Sensate focus is a great way for couples to learn about each other and build a wider sexual repertoire.”
*Name has been changed