Can a relationship survive without sex?
Short answer: yes. A relationship can survive perfectly well without sex.
Hang on, I hear you say, survive is one thing but what about thrive?
Surprisingly, the answer is still yes.
Sex is good for you – massively beneficial – in lots of ways. But lots of couples thrive in no-sex or low-sex relationships.
This is part one of a two-part blog that looks at the scenarios when sexless marriages work – and when not having sex is the kiss of death for any relationship.
A lack of sex isn’t always a sign of trouble.
Lots of couples go through periods without sex – both intentionally and unintentionally – and still enjoy a happy, healthy relationship.
But there are two CRUCIAL boxes you must tick if this is going to work for you.
Sexless relationships ONLY work if BOTH of you are happy with sex being removed from your lives.
You must also still be actively intimate in other areas.
If affection, closeness, touching and kissing stop as well, you’re now friends not romantic partners.
SITUATIONS WHEN SEXLESS RELATIONSHIPS WORK
The concept that all people need sex and to be having it regularly is called ‘compulsory sexuality’.
It’s what people think – but that doesn’t make it true.
The societal view that sex is necessary to keep a relationship happy is unhelpful and counterproductive. Research shows couples who give into pressure and force themselves to have sex when they don’t want to, don’t enjoy it and feel even less motivated for a repeat performance.
Agreeing to not have sex and admitting you’re both happy with that, will do much more for your relationship than pretending to want something you don’t.
These are the sort of situations that make some couples decide sex is going to be – temporarily or permanently -put on hold, without necessarily harming their relationship.
Life isn’t giving you much opportunity to hook up
Your partner works a night shift, you work during the day. You don’t live in the same city. You’re travelling for an extended period. Your kids have moved back home.
All of these scenarios make sex difficult and can result in a temporary hiatus that’s perfectly normal and nothing to worry about.
All your focus and energy are needed elsewhere
Certain things happen in life that rob us of the time and energy we’d reserve for sex. If you’ve got three kids under three, sex is a (very) low priority. Looking after elderly parents. Launching a business. Impressing a new boss.
If the life events are also making you feel stressed and anxious, you’re even less likely to be in the mood if the opportunity does arise.
Lots of couples agree sex isn’t important when you’re completely and utterly worn out and take the pressure off the relationship by acknowledging it.
One of you has health issues which interfere with sex
It might be a flexibility issue – your partner’s got a bad back or you’ve had a shoulder operation – general ill-health, depression or anxiety. Sex feels difficult or unappealing when these things happen.
Sexual dysfunctions like erection problems, painful sex and complications from menopause are common dissuaders. There are solutions and treatments for these issues but if your motivation for sex was never that high, you might both agree this is the time to stop.
You’ve both had your fill
You’ve done it thousands of times already and simply lost interest. Netflix changes its content constantly which is more than you can say about the average couple’s sex routine.
If neither of you are that interested in sex, desire is low and there isn’t a sexual experience you haven’t tried that you’d like to, sometimes it makes sense to call it a day.
You’ve found YOUR normal
Some couples are happy with sex so infrequent, their relationship is officially ‘sexless’ even though they still have it on the odd occasion. (Therapists define a sexless relationship as one where couples have sex less than 10 times a year.)
If you’ve been together for 40 years, one brilliant sex session while on holidays once a year might be enough to keep both of you happy. Love, playfulness, affection – these things also bring intimacy to relationships and are equally as important as sex.
Those of the sort of scenarios where stopping sex can make both happy rather than feel deprived.