“Sexual tension is a good thing when you’re waiting to be sexual with someone,” says Stewart. She explains that the tension gives you an opportunity to flirt, seduce, and mentally prepare yourself to be with the person who shares your sexual attraction. 

An amazing aphrodisiac for people who can eventually be together, sexual tension “can help build anticipatory arousal with the right amount of sexual frustration paired with excitement,” Balestrieri adds. You might even consider it an emotional edging technique, she says, “since the tease and delay can stimulate fantasy, longing, hope, curiosity, and/or adventure.”

However, there are downsides to having palpable sexual chemistry with someone, particularly when the people feeling this energy know they can’t or shouldn’t act on it. “This leads to them being distracted by the sexual tension and even possible resentment if they’re in a current partnership,” Stewart says. Anything that might lead to violating a sexual boundary can hinder quality sexual tension, she adds. 

When the person you experience sexual tension with is an employee, a friend of a significant other, a family member, a minor, or anyone considered inappropriate, Balestrieri says sexual tension can be a negative influence on a person’s life.

Another situation that presents unfavorable aspects of sexual tension is when it’s weaponized as a form of revenge against a current partner. “If your partner flirts with someone in front of you to evoke a reaction out of you—and it’s not part of your consensual kink—that could be an example of sexual tension run amok,” Balestrieri says.

“Wherever exploitation, betrayal, or other negative consequences, like losing a job, may live as a consequence of sexual tension realized,” she says it’s likely to be quite destructive.

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