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A Period of Sexual Abstinence

Wait! Don't freak out. Let us explain.

If the idea of a period of sexual abstinence frightens you, you are not alone. Most people struggling with sex addiction do not look forward to a period of abstinence from their sexual behaviors either. The truth be told, however, most look back at it as one of the most crucial points in their recovery.

Before going any further, let us first acknowledge that sex is a basic human drive. No one can argue with that. It is the basis for life on Earth. And it can be a vital expression of love and affection between two people.

The Reasons for a Period of Sexual Abstinence
The problem for sex addicts, though, is that sex has outgrown its purpose and taken on a whole new meaning. Sex becomes their primary need, crowding out other life considerations, and even putting people in danger. One of the points of a period of sexual abstinence is not to punish people struggling with out of control sexual behavior, but rather help them see just how dominant a force their sexual behavior has become.

Another reason it is useful to undergo a period of sexual abstinence is that sex addicts use sex as a way to medicate their feelings. Feelings are not something that should be stamped out, though--they are useful guides that should be experienced and allowed to inform healthy decisions. Naturally, a variety of feelings will surface, and although they can be somewhat painful, it is essential to experience them in order to fully recover.

Finally, a period of sexual abstinence will help you treat sex with more care and thought. Many people view themselves and others as sex objects and compulsively use sex as a way that amounts to nothing more than masturbating themselves. Healthy sexuality means treating sex as a thoughtful and considerate act to be talked about and explored between partners in an ongoing way.

Healthy Sexuality
Taking a break from any sexual activity gives sex addicts a much needed perspective on their relationship to sex. It's like fasting from food. When people break their fast, they usually have a newfound appreciation for how they relate to food. In other words, they're more conscious of what and how they eat. Similarly, a period of sexual abstinence puts all sexual behavior on pause so people can develop an appreciation of how they use sex and learn to re-integrate it in their lives in a healthier way.

New York Pathways likes to use a temporary sexual abstinence contract to give you the foundation for developing healthy sexuality. It's much more difficult to learn how to develop healthy sexuality when you're still engaged in the destructive kind of sexual activity that got you in trouble in the first place. It requires that you stop having sex with oneself and others for a period of time. This gives you a chance to learn about how sex addictions works, what you can do about it, and begin practicing some of the tools that lead to healthy sexuality.

That doesn't sound so bad, does it?

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