Can a relationship survive without sex? In the wake of a friend’s recent breakup for that very reason, this week’s blog looks at whether sex is the be all and end all, and what we can do when it disappears from an otherwise loving partnership.
Not everyone wants sex all the time, granted. But one of the single biggest relationship deal-breakers is when the white heat of passionate sex at the beginning of a relationship becomes a pale shadow of its former self as time goes by. For many of us, sex is the ‘glue’ that binds a relationship, and when it falters, or fails completely, we can feel like there’s nothing left to hold it together. Once that initial ‘buzz’ of a new sexual partner wears off, it’s harder to feel excited. We want to feel seduced, we want to keep experiencing the lust that fuelled us at the beginning, and when it disappears, we instead feel frustration, and like something is missing.
For guys in particular, part of their identity as a male is in pleasing another, and when that’s taken away through sexual dysfunction, or through a clash in differing levels of libido, it can cause an identity crisis, and place further strain on relationship dynamics.
Other common problems occur when we become too comfortable in our relationship, and we perhaps stop exercising, put on weight or lose that feeling of being attractive. We feel we need to look a certain way in order to feel a certain way, and when we don’t feel comfortable in ourselves, we enjoy sex less and less.
It’s hard not to feel rejected when a loved one goes straight to sleep after getting into bed, or says they’re too tired, or wraps the sheets around themselves to keep the other out. But what’s important to remember is that it’s absolutely ok if we go through a phase of not wanting sex – and it’s often not personal, or about the ‘rejected’ other.
Intimacy can be created in many ways, and sex is just one. Unfortunately, we’re not taught how to cultivate open communication, how to connect through loving touch and affection, and how to navigate through these types of complex issues (though watch this space for our upcoming 12-week video Masterclass series, launching in the new year to teach you some of these techniques).
Within sexual dynamics (as with every other aspect of life) the only constant is change. Cooling desire, and sexual ‘phases’ aren’t necessarily the beginning of the end. Dry spells are inevitable parts of relationships. Of course, the familiar can often become mundane – but it’s important not to hold all sex up to some impossibly high standard of transcendence.
As long as there’s willingness from both sides to talk openly, to spend the time together needed to support a healthy relationship, to express any fears, needs and desires, and support each other through the peaks and troughs of sexual expression, sexual lulls can be accepted and transcended.
There’s also an opportunity in every challenge, if we’re willing to recognise it. Believe it or not, if we embrace and accept them, sexual ups-and-downs can actually be healthy, triggering new growth, and taking our relationships to never-before-experienced levels of vulnerability, intimacy and understanding.
In love and light,