4 Unspoken Risks Of Using Sex To Get What You Want From A Man

Sure, it works. But you get a lot more than you bargained for.

Last updated on Apr 18, 2024

Woman winking after bribing her husband with sex IPGGutenbergUKLtd | Canva

I overheard a conversation at the nail salon that got me thinking about the state of intimacy in relationships. One woman told another that unless her husband did all the chores on his "honey-do list", there was no way he was getting "it." When her friend responded that she was going to reward Gary with an intimate favor if he finally cleaned out the garage, I couldn't help but balk.

They were followers of an age-old set of rules — believing the person in control is the one with the most power in the relationship — and withholding intimacy as punishment and using it as a reward. The problem with that approach is physical intimacy is one of the ways partners show love.


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4 risks you take when using sex as a tool — or a weapon 

1. It becomes emotional manipulation

In monogamous relationships, the marriage is the only place your partner receives any physical affection or sexual activity. Withholding intimacy as a form of punishment often sends the signal to your partner that he'd be better off seeking physical gratification elsewhere.

We connect with our partners through physical intimacy, in a way we don't connect in other relationships. As such, sex is sacred. While, partners may not share the same drive, claiming you're "not in the mood" because you're trying to punish your partner (rather than because you truly are tired, or not feeling well) is equal to leveraging intimacy as a weapon.


Sure, there are nights when you feel angry about something and prefer to forego lovemaking, and that is always your prerogative. but to withhold it continually until you deem your partner has earned it is tantamount to emotional blackmail.



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2. It creates resentment and emotional distance

Withholding intimacy causes resentment, alienates your partner, makes him feel less loving and less valuable, and erodes the trust of marriage. However, looking at the flip side, sex as a commodity leads to the reward system.


When a couple is happy and wanting to bond, time between the sheets is a great way to make their closeness grow. Physical intimacy is a way that partners give to each other while practicing the art of receiving, as well. Time together produces all kinds of wonderful oxytocin, right? However, when intimacy is part of a reward system in a marriage, it begins to shift sex away from being away when a couple expresses happiness and love and becomes a way a spouse doles out approval.

loving couple sharing intimacyPhoto: Ground Picture via Shutterstock

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3. It creates a power imbalance

Instead of being a shared experience as a couple, "reward sex" turns lovemaking into something one-sided. Physical intimacy in marriage isn't just about intercourse, but also about the sensual and spiritual aspects of sex, as well. When it's only doled out as a reward, intimacy in the marriage feels more about the mechanics.

There's a great deal of power in sex, and being the person who solely says "yes" or "no" creates a troubling power imbalance. Are you using that power for the good of everyone involved, including your own physical and mental health? Or are you using intimacy to keep your partner in line — to punish or reward them for meeting your expectations? (Often, expectations never even mentioned or discussed.)

I would never tell you that you owe your partner intimacy when you truly don't want it. Never. I simply ask you to ponder whether you use sex as an unhealthy means of control in your relationship (even if you didn't realize it until now).

If you choose to use intimacy as a commodity — either withholding as a way to "punish" your partner or using intimacy as a way to reward your partner for "good" behavior — you're breaking your marital bond and diminishing intimacy and trust.


4. Sex as a commodity will destroy your relationship.

Is using intimacy as a commodity turning your role in marriage into one of a caregiver or a child? Would you prefer to see your marriage as a partnership? What if you experimented for the next 30 days? What if you saw possibilities and intimacy any time your partner made advances of any sort? What if you initiated sex on occasion?

How much stronger — and happier — could your marriage be if intimacy was an act of love instead of a transaction?

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Debra Smouse is a life coach and author whose work has been published in TIME, Huffington Post, MSN, Psychology Today, and more.