The first time I didn’t have sex with my ex-partner at his apartment, I was too drunk to stay awake. I kicked off my shoes, wobbled to his bed and flopped down on his pillow. We waited until the morning. Though I don’t consider myself a high sex drive fanatic, not enough sex with a boyfriend would cause problems. Yet for some, sex in a relationship isn’t important; it barely factors as a priority.
Can a relationship last without sex?
A friend of a friend is in her 20’s and in a happy relationship – without much intimacy. Supposedly, her and her partner feel sexually satisfied. Their contentment feels surprising – aren’t we often told no interest in sex is a problem? It’s something we expect long-term, bored couples to experience; a pair with a new-born or a partner with a stressful work situation.
An article on The Conversation describes how sexual desire can come and go. One example the publication uses: people can regain their arousal when they have someone to have sex with. The piece also notes that the expectation to continually experience and enjoy sex throughout life is relatively modern. Sex use to tie to marriage and duty.
Today, it’s easy to order erotic pleasure. Western society embraces sexual exhibition: cuddle and sex parties, Tinder and Grindr, friends with benefits and casual hook-ups. There is a sex toy for every personal requirement. More than ever, we’re hearing: sex is good, have lots of sex. And if your sex drive is low: indulge in sexual fantasy, communicate, create more foreplay. So for couples and people who don’t believe sex in a relationship is really important, they can feel stigmatised and concerned.
From looking at search engine results, the problem feels less about the quantity of sex and more about entirely sexless partnerships – people who have gone months or years without action. Website Mind Body Green published a link to research, which suggests people who aren’t having sex can be as happy as those sexually active. Not always having sex can work for couples who share the same urges, but a relationship can struggle when either partner doesn’t feel sexually satisfied.
When your partner doesn’t want to have sex vs. when you do
Before lock down, I was going on dates and blogging my stories. Even when I wasn’t sleeping with the guys, sex felt available. And in a strange sense, that made me hornier. Mid-way through lock down and months spent not socialising, I began to feel less concerned: intercourse stopped feeling like a priority. For others, the opposite happened.
On the Huffington Post, psychologist Barry McCarthy explained how sex has more importance in a relationship when it “provokes conflict”. When people are happy with their sex lives, they’re likely to spend less time analysing it. But when sex is causing problems and dissatisfaction, it can become a huge aspect of a couple’s happiness. Our partners help make us feel sexually wanted and attractive – I’d feel insecure if a boyfriend continually turned me down.
Sex in a relationship: long-term
Once the initial attraction wanes and you’ve seen your partner nude each morning as they stroll to the shower, it can become tough to continue the passion. Especially if you’ve already ordered the toys, bought the costumes and tried every Cosmopolitan sex position. We expect new couples to regularly have sexual fun together – how important is it for long-term couples?
On website Meet Mindful, a male writer says sex is one of the most important things for guys. He explains how not having sex in his marriage caused resentment towards his wife, and how they ended up growing distant from fighting, with no sexual connection to make them close again. In short, he summarises the need for every couple to experience a happy sex life.
As a piece on Grazia shares, individuals can make excuses for little to no sex. They might argue that relationships change, passion can transition to friendship. The magazine featured a professor, Cynthia Graham, who says that sexual desire is more about relationship quality than longevity. Meaning, regardless of the length of time, putting in work can lead to sexual fulfilment. Communicating, scheduling time, showing affection (cuddling, holding hands) can help to increase interest in making love.
The benefits of sex
Earlier, I mentioned a study on non-sexually active people being as happy as those sexually active, however, not having sex removes some incredible benefits. My blog on The Effects of Not Having Sex sources research on the many positive producing body chemicals during intimacy. When you give up sex for a long period, your body can feel side-effects, such as sluggishness.
In the bedroom: fantasy, freedom, sexual power and confidence come alive. Sex is a moment when I can dedicate my focus completely to self-pleasure, and in turn, the pleasure of who I’m with. It’s a secret intimacy – what can you replace it with?
How important is sex for a healthy relationship?
We can conclude that it’s normal to not always be interested, and for some, a little means a lot. Ultimately, sex is a substantial element of a relationship: even when someone is experiencing no sexual desire. It’s an elephant in every couple’s room. The ideal situation is finding a person who matches your sexual drive.
Sex separates lovers from friends – it’s a way to enhance a physical bond and connect on a deeper level. Some people perceive sex as an additional thing – a mere added bonus if a great partner can also meet sexual needs. To me, it’s part of a package deal, next to intelligence, attraction, kindness and ambition.
How important to you is sex in a relationship? Would it matter if it wasn’t a priority?