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Is Sex Important in a Relationship? Everything You Need To Know

Is Sex Important in a Relationship? Everything You Need To Know

Updated on May 27, 2022

Reviewed by Julianne Cantarella, MSW, LSW , Certified Relationship Coach

Is Sex Important in a Relationship Everything You Need To Know

Is sex important in a relationship?

Most of you may wonder what kind of a question is this? Others may respond that hell yeah… It’s a one-word answer.

But do all relationships survive on sex?

Maybe… maybe, not.

You will be amazed to know that sex has so many physical, emotional, and relationship benefits that we overlook… And only focus on the fun and pleasure part of sex.

True, that shouldn’t be ignored either. But some of you might say that sex is an overhyped term. People are in happy relationships without having regular sex too.

So, what is the bottom line for this debate? 

Is Sex Important in a Relationship Everything You Need To Know
Is Sex Important in a Relationship Everything You Need To Know

Is sex important in a relationship?

There is no right answer to this, it depends on one relationship to another. Sex sure has multiple psychological, physical, and relationship benefits but may not necessarily be important.

Before I answer this question, tell me, how often do you indulge in sex? Say you answered thrice a week.

After a few months, if you have sex once a week only, does it mean that you and your partner are not in love anymore?

No, right? Romance keeps the relationship going and sex is definitely an intriguing way of bringing forward your romantic side. But is that all? 

Few couples hardly have sex once in a month and are still happy in their relationship. It depends on how you and your partner consider sex. Is your relationship only dependent on sex?

Then, you must have it often. If not, sex is only a part of a healthy relationship. So, in short, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this tricky question. 

However, there are a few reasons why couples don’t have sex for a long time. Some of these can be:

  • Having a low sex drive
  • Some severe medical condition
  • Giving relationship some time before having sex
  • Wanting to have sex only after marriage

And if you enlist unwillingness to have sex in this list, it is also a valid reason. There is no compulsion that if you love somebody, you must always be ready to jump on them.

How else do you think our parents and grandparents go for months and years without having sex? Don’t they love each other? 

Laurie Mintz, the author of ‘A Tired Woman’s Guide to Passionate Sex’, says that if your relationship is going through rosy times, then sex only accounts for 15-20 percent of satisfaction in a relationship.

The rest of the good vibes come from the happy times you are spending together. 

Hence, the bottom line is that sex isn’t the measure to evaluate if your partner loves you or not. Also, if you have an irregular sex pattern, it is not a sign of an unhealthy relationship.

Why sex is important in a relationship? – 10 Reasons

Why does everyone keep saying sex is important in a relationship? No, not only our friends and elders, but the doctors say it too.

So, now let’s look at ten most common ways where sex can help a relationship.

1. It makes your skin glow

Have you heard about your skin glowing after sex? What makes your skin glow? Experts say that sex releases hormones out of your body that are responsible for your glowing skin.

Sex releases the hormone dopamine which is responsible for giving you happy vibes. Another hormone testosterone helps you increase your performance levels and endorphins eliminate pain.

All these hormones combine to make you happy… and this happiness radiates through your skin. 

The hormones help to develop an emotional bond with your partner. Therefore, it is often said that it is not easy to forget your sex partner.

2. Relieves stress quickly

You wouldn’t need to take hot showers, massages, or bubble baths to feel relaxed anymore if you have sex.

Why? Because sex not only makes you feel happy but also relieves your stress. It makes you forget your stress and end up in a pleasurable zone. 

Sex releases a stress-removal hormone called oxytocin. Within 20 seconds of any physical touch, your body will release oxytocin and make you feel better.

Moreover, oxytocin fights with cortisol, a hormone that causes stress. So, sex rewards your body by reducing tension through the secretion of relaxing hormones.

3. Boosts your confidence level

Whenever you are running low on confidence, indulge in sex. It will give your confidence an immediate boost. Experts say that all of us have some insecurities in our hearts. But sex makes us accept those insecurities.

If you have difficulty accepting your body features, sex gives you the confidence to accept your body just as it is. When you have sex, someone else explores every part of your body.

So, it gives you a feeling that if someone else can accept you for who you are, then there is no harm in accepting yourself.

You start feeling better because of the release of dopamine hormones. These hormones give you sexual satisfaction and make you feel good about yourself.

4. Helps to get better sleep

After sex, your body feels relieved from the stress and you will be in a good mood. So, it is obvious that you will get a peaceful sleep. Moreover, sex release another hormone called prolactin when you orgasm.

So, what is the benefit of this hormone? Experts suggest that prolactin helps you get a deep sleep and you spend more time in the REM stage of sleep.

The REM stage is when you get dreams which are suggestive of deep sleep. 

So, if you sleep well, ultimately you are going to be fit physically and mentally. The more you sleep, the less irritated you will be and will fight less with your partner. 

5. Helps you outside the bedroom

Sexual intimacy in the bedroom helps you develop an affectionate bond outside the bedroom too.

You start caring for your partner and become more affectionate towards them. The love and care that you shower on them outside the bedroom turn them on which results in more sex.

It helps the people who use physical touch as their love language. For them, sex is the best way to show their partner how much they mean to them.

It generates more hormones and creates an unbreakable bond between you and your partner.

6. Post-sex cuddles make you happy

If you are a couple who loves cuddling, try to do it after sex too. Cuddling before sex is a common phenomenon but cuddling after sex makes them feel more special.

Get all snuggly-wiggly with your partner after sex and see your bond getting stronger. 

Your partner will feel that you genuinely value them and were not interested in them only for sex.

To support this argument, Archives of Sexual Behavior published a study that mentioned that you can share a satisfactory and happy relationship if you cuddle after sex.

Oh yes, let’s not forget about the oxytocin hormone responsible for our happiness.

7. Holds your relationship

So, if you had a terrible fight with your partner recently, step into the bedroom and have sex. You will see every problem vanish away in a matter of minutes because sex is the glue that holds your relationship.

No, I don’t say you cannot survive in a relationship without sex, but you will get frustrated with your partner without sex.

If you don’t have sex with your partner, it is like living with a roommate sharing household chores, bills, and an occasional laugh.

What brings you out of that roommate zone is the passionate sex that holds your relationship with your partner. 

8. Keeps you physically fit

Oh, you will wonder how sex can keep you physically fit but it sure can! It has many more benefits than only giving you physical satisfaction. Sex relieves your sore muscles and helps joint pains.

Moreover, women will be very happy to know that sex can even relieve menstrual cramps! Orgasms for women can lessen the risk of endometriosis and make their period cycle regular.

To keep your heart healthy, have sex! It gives you longevity, boosts your immunity, and prevents hypertension.

Even if you have a headache, SEX is the answer! So, for any big or small problem, sex can certainly help you.

9. Helps explore yourself in non-sexual ways

Sex makes you happy and falls in love with yourself. You will want to spend some time nurturing yourself.

After the satisfaction, you will want to have the same feelings for the rest of the day and so you will try other sensual activities.

To feel relaxed, you can opt for some non-sexual ways like dancing in the rain, a hot bubble bath, or a massage.

So, apart from sex, it also helps you be creative in satisfying yourself through non-genital ways.

10. Develops trust and care for each other

You can have sex with anybody, but passionate sex is only with a person you trust. It is because in a long-term relationship when you keep having sex with the same person, you develop trust.

You know your partner wouldn’t hurt you because they have seen every aspect of you and loved you. They have seen you in your most raw form and adored you without any judgments.

Hence, trust develops for your partner no matter what they will stand by you. It leads to an affectionate bond and you start caring for each other.

If these reasons weren’t enough… let me take you though some benefits of indulging in regular sex.

Benefits of sex in a relationship

After knowing why sex is important, let me amaze you with some unknown benefits of sex! Oh yes, sex benefits our body- not in one or two ways, but in multiple ways!

Read along to know how.

Psychological benefits

Well, sure sex is pleasurable and fun, but it certainly has some psychological benefits too. Social psychology suggests that sex makes you happier by reducing stress.

There are other emotional health benefits too which you must explore like:

  • Boosts self-confidence
  • Helps you accept your body
  • Relieves stress
  • Recharges your brain
  • Higher rate of happiness
  • Better self-image
  • Improved sleep
  • Makes you feel younger
  • Prevents panic disorder
  • Fosters mutual interest

Physical Benefits

Apart from expressing love, a healthy sex life certainly keeps you physically fit. The sexual relationship between the two people has some medically reviewed benefits unknown to normal people.

Let us see how sex can be physically beneficial to us.

  • Boosts immunity
  • Provides exercise benefits
  • Improves heart health
  • Relieves headaches
  • Boosts memory
  • Prevents heart attack
  • Relieves joint and muscle pain
  • Reduces hypertension
  • Increases longevity
  • Regular period cycle in women

Relationship Benefits

Men and women consider that sex is meant for romantic purposes only. However, it is partially true. Regular sex helps your relationship to grow and drives you closer.

No wonder why sex therapists recommend regular sex!

Some of the relationship benefits of sex are:

  • Strengthens a relationship
  • Partners feel secure
  • You feel valued
  • Brings you closer
  • Adds to pleasurable activities
  • Reduces arguments
  • Helps you foster a family
  • Nurtures trust
  • Renews the ‘love’ feeling
  • Creates spontaneity in the relationship

But wait, like every other thing in the world, sex is also not ALL good…

Challenges of Sex in a Relationship

A lot of elements pertain to making sex life challenging. These factors may include hormones, children, stress, pressure, medical needs, age, relationship difficulties, and a lot more.

All these together determine how frequently a couple makes love.

Very often, our hormonal levels drop with our age. We, as humans, tend to crave sex at different intervals. A lack of interest in sex can lead to being distant from your partner.

It, at times, may also be difficult for one of the partners to maintain active sex life or not be able to have sex due to physical or health conditions.

So, in such a case, couples can try maintaining their relationship in non-sexual ways. An authorized couple therapist can also help you overcome many such issues.

For a long while, people believed that sex leads to prostate cancer. But, in a study published around 2016, it was found that men who had 21 or more than 21 ejaculations in a month are a little less prone to the disease.

On the contrary, men with fewer than 7 ejaculations were more likely to have the disease.

Generally, the second most reason for cancer deaths in men was prostate cancer. For a few of them, sex has led to a heart attack as well. From a study in 2011, regular sex reduces heart attacks.

Sex, therefore, is also a protective physical activity. But, it may be a threat if an irregular burst occurs as it adds strain to the heart.

Thus, unprotected sex could turn hazardous if good sex practices are not maintained.

After the reasons, benefits, challenges… The one question that may linger in your mind is…

Ideal Frequency for Having Sex

A study conducted in 2015 has proved that sexual frequency may improve your overall well-being but only to an extent.

It has also been found that relationship was seen progressing when couples go from having zero sex to having sex once every week but that was it. No further impact was observed with further increased frequency.

Although, sex once per week is the current average. But with our daily hustle-bustle, you often fail to achieve that too.

Now, if we compare this to the frequency of sex in the 1990s, then in 2010, the rate decreased to nine times lesser than the original value.

As per so much research being conducted, they validate these feelings of emotional well-being and interconnections when you have sex more than once.

“There is no one-size-fits-all sexuality,” says Mintz, a Therapist. Practically, this implies that there isn’t any particular frequency set for having sex.

On the whole, it is the decision of the couple. It is because, in the end, it’s the partners who need to be satisfied.

So, to make a relationship happy and healthy, the two partners need to communicate and compromise.

Here is a summary of the Average Sexual Frequency rates determined through surveys.

  1. Average Adult: 54 times/year or 1 time/week
  2. Adults in 20s: 80 times/year
  3. Adults in 60s: 20 times/year

Hence, even if the older adults have a lesser frequency, they need to be active sexually.

Studies also noted that married couples have more frequent sex than unmarried in a particular age group.

Sex vs Intimacy

Sex and intimacy are interlinked. A study has shown an in-depth connection between having frequent sex and the overall well-being of the partners.

The connection depicts how sex speculates fondness and this fondness, in turn, predicts the frequency of sexual activity.

Thus, if you have the urge to have sex, the best thing is to have more sex. Yes! You heard that right. It does seem a little imbecile, but it is the final answer for improving your sex life as a whole.

However, having sex is not the ONLY solution to get intimate with your partner. Often, sex is used interchangeable with intimacy, which is not righteous.

Sex is just one form of intimacy, and thus, it is not the only way to be intimate with someone.

Certain non-sexual forms of physical touch aka intimacy include:

However, apart from physical intimacy, emotional intimacy with your partner like sharing a cup, honest and vulnerable conversations, etc., – is also equally impactful to a majority of people when it comes to having happy and healthy relationships.

Is Sexual Compatibility important in a relationship?

Sexual compatibility is of utmost importance to keep a relationship thriving.

At times, it’s difficult to deal with a situation where a partner may feel that sex is vital in a relationship, whereas the other person does not.

Similarly, it is also difficult at times as one of them may have a higher libido than the other.

Situations like these make it impossible to manage sex life. This is the time communicate with your partner and eliminate all the “sexual” differences.

Some people may find that affairs outside of the relationship are a way to meet your sexual requirements.

If you’re one of them, discuss it with your partner and if you both are on the same page… you’re always allowed to open your relationships.

But if not, find some other common ground.

Why do you experience changes in sexual preferences over time?

New couples tend to have regular sex since they are trying to know each other. However, with time there is a decline in sexual preferences. Why does this happen? There are many reasons behind this deep question. 

A possibility can be that earlier your priority was your relationship as you wanted to spend maximum time with your partner.

But now that you are comfortable with them, you want to shift your focus to other goals like your career, raising your lifestyle, or supporting your family.

Hence, the daily chores keep you so busy that you hardly get time to be romantic with your partner. 

You will also observe that when you are facing some anxiety or stress, you wouldn’t want to have sex. You may have individual stress or might undergo some stress as a couple.

Now that your lives are dependent on each other, your partner’s stress becomes your stress. Over a while, you don’t feel like having sex when your stress levels are high.

A common problem that most people face is that their sex drive decreases with time.

Or they develop some physical issues with age that make them incapable of performing sex like the earlier times. Such physical barriers can also lead to less sex.

Moreover, women do not feel like having too much sex after pregnancy. So, we can say that your body may lose interest in sex over time.

If such problems continue and you do not have sex with your partner, they might feel that you do not feel the same emotions for them anymore.

It gives them a feeling that you are unhappy with their presence and do not care for them.

It kills your intimacy and self-esteem. Distrust enters the relationship and the only solution your partner can see is to cheat on you.

Over time, it is normal to have some changes in your sexual preferences too due to several factors, including…

  1. Stress
  2. Age
  3. Difficulties in Relationship
  4. Hormonal Balance
  5. Medication
  6. Trauma
  7. Medical Conditions

Refraining from sex is not wrong and is not an issue that needs to be fixed. If your lower libido is bothering you, you can consult a doctor.

For this, you can get medically diagnosed treatments, or you may regain your libido to the previous level.

How can sexual incompatibility harm your relationship?

Some partners don’t mind waiting for their partners’ libido to return. However, a few others struggle due to NO sex.

Some people have a hard time suppressing their sexual desires and feel frustrated due to that.

Hence, if you feel that you and your partner are sexually incompatible, you must speak about it with your partner. Communicating well may ease the situation and bring up a solution to the problem.

Wait buddy… if you really want to know the “importance” of sex in relationships, it’s almost impossible without knowing some truths.  

Truths about sex in Long-term Relationships

Sex is an important element of any relationship… Do you find this statement true? What should sex be like? Should we be dependent on it?

Apart from these, there are a lot of questions when talking about sex in a relationship.

Till now, we have been looking at sex as taboo or a topic that we should not discuss, but the reality is something different. Today, we will be discussing some facts about sex in a long-term relationship. 

1. Sex depends on individuality

There are a lot of theories trying to depict the exact relation between sexual satisfaction and relationship satisfaction.

But the fact is that it solely depends on the couple how important sex is in their life.

Sometimes, sex keeps the relationship healthier, and sometimes it becomes a reason for someone’s break up.

Sex is not just some physical intimacy between two people, it’s more than that. It is a mixture of emotions, understanding, communication, and physical interaction, obviously.

It is always about individuality, and there are no fixed bars about what and how sex should be in a relationship to keep it happy. Too much or too little sex can create an imbalance in your relationship. 

2. Sex frequency decreases with time

It is one of the common problems among all couples. They engage in a lot of sexual activities in the first few months of a relationship.

But if they are seeing each other together in the future, I think I have some bad news for them. 

A study shows extensive sex at the beginning of a relationship can make someone lose all the charm and excitement in the relationship, and they do not find it attractive anymore.

Instead, people should be into romantic sex or cuddles more because it keeps up the warmth in their relationship.

So, it’s better to keep the balance of sexual and romantic relations with your partner.

3. Communication is the key, but how?

The reason behind most of the relationship failures is a lack of communication. People feel hesitant to open up to their partners about their liking, disliking, and opinions.

If you do not tell your partner what you expect from them, how would they know? Some couples do not even know how their sex life is, and that is where the problem begins.

Sit and discuss with your partner how you feel when you are in bed with them. Share your desires, fears, fantasies, and everything you feel about sex and also ask for the same from them.

Ask what exactly makes them sexually satisfied? Do they like oral or anal sex? Or anything you want to know.

It will help you know your partner better and can help end with some better climax!

4. Sometimes it is ok to say a “no”

Sex is more of a moody thing. We should understand that despite being a couple, both persons are willing to have sex at that particular moment or not.

In long-term relationships, there comes a time when a person is not in a mood to have sex, and that is totally normal because people deal with a lot the whole day, and sometimes all they need is a good massage (do not try to add a happy ending to it).

So, make sure to allow your partner some personal space to keep the relationship healthy going.

5. Relationship issues can impact your sexual desires!

A good relationship must have some good sex in it, but a relationship with issues may disturb your sex life too.

Generally, issues in a relationship may lead to loss of interest in your partner, and sex has a direct relation with interest.

So, it is advised to sit, discuss and try to eradicate current relationship issues first as it can lead to an old happy relationship and sex life too.

6. Sex is not a compulsion!

A person’s sexual desire is just like a burning fire. Sometimes it is too high, or sometimes too low.

There are a lot of factors like daily stress, health issues, relationship issues, periods, and a lot more than impact your sex life.

Understand that it is normal and so is not having sex for a few days.

7. You can enjoy sex once you start having it, even if you’re not in the mood

Sometimes you may want to indulge in sexual activity, but you are not sure about their mood. Maybe this confusion can get cleared off with some initiations.

If a person is in a long-term relationship with you, they are most likely to get aroused by your touch.

So, initiating while romanticizing things could make them melt like a piece of ice, though they were not in the mood earlier.

8. Lower-libido phase is normal!

Lower libido means someone getting less interested in sexual activities. If there was a phase of higher libido once, then it is normal to face a lower libido phase.

It is where you or your partner decrease the frequency of sex. Just make sure this phase does not make you see the disappointment in your partner’s eyes else it could affect your relationship too.

9. Sex can be as passionate in long-term relationships as it is in daily flings!

A long-term relationship includes having sex with the same person for years, which at some point of time becomes boring.

Well, not really… in fact, long term relationships can be equally passionate but only if you believe in it.

Discuss what you missed in the entire journey. Try new positions, roleplay, introduce toys, use chocolates or whip cream, and whatnot. It will light up a new spark in your sexual life and the relationship.

10. Scorekeeping never works in sexual activities

At last, sex is all about sharing pleasures. Your partner is having sex with you means they are dependent on you for their pleasure, and so are you.

But instead of delivering pleasure, you try to take pleasure from your partner, when they are expecting their pleasure from you. This confusion can lead to your partner’s dissatisfaction and also compel them to indulge in an external affair.

To prevent this, make sure sex is shared exploration for you both, not an act of negotiation.

So, if you think your sex life is suffering a downfall, it can be saved by asking a question, taking actionable steps, or giving your partner some space.

Sex can be a reason for a healthy relationship and can also be a reason for a bad break, just make sure yours is the former…

How to have a happy sex life?

If sex is so beneficial for life, and important in a relationship, what should you do to have a happy sex life?

1. Know more about your partner’s needs

It is not necessary that the partners can like the same sexual act or positions. But always try to figure out things. The sexual differences can end a relationship and you wouldn’t want your relationship to go through that phase.

So, if you already feel that your partner enjoys the sexual activity in a particular way, go ahead and learn it more.

If they deny something, don’t keep doing it only for your pleasure. Respect your partner’s choices and work out on the sexual differences together.

2. Take intercourse off the table

At times, it is not necessary to have sex per se. If you ask a therapist, they will suggest a series of exercises to feel sexual only through touch.

Mintz says that certain exercises reintroduce sensuality, and sexuality. They are called sensate focus exercises.

So, you must focus on erotic intimacy rather than sex. Touch each other without reason and take out some time to talk to each other before going to work.

Such an erotic climate is essential to redefine your relationship.

3. Be creative and innovative

Will you not get bored of eating the same food daily? Then, how can you expect to enjoy sex in the same position every time? Obviously, it will get monotonous.

Don’t be afraid to try new positions. Your partner is all yours so you must try different ways of giving and receiving pleasure.

Until and unless you try something new, how are you going to know what is better?

We think our mind is the most intimate body organ but no, it is our skin. And our entire body is covered with it, so why not use it to its maximum and get all the feels?

4. Be playful during the sex

Don’t take sex as a task otherwise, you will never be able to enjoy it. Think of it as a game and how you can receive maximum pleasure from it. Try to add more props to your sexual monogamous relationships.

Oh, let’s say, for instance, you can use a massage candle. The specialty of this candle is that as soon as you light it, the candle melts in the form of massage oil. It is explicitly sexual and helps as a stimulation.

5. Plan your makeout session

Yes, I agree that sex should be spontaneous to get real feelings. But, at times, you get so busy with your work that you are exhausted to spare some loving time with your partner.

This is especially the case for long-term married couples.

Work is important but so is spending time with your partner. You must plan a day and time and both of you must keep your calendar clean for that spot to have some relaxed and pleasurable sex.

6. Meet your partner halfway on no-mood days

You may not be in the mood for sex and your partner might want to do it. But don’t say NO. Try to understand your partner’s mood and needs and meet them halfway somewhere.

If not sex, engage in foreplay or a back massage. You can say yes to at least some kind of sexual activity to not disappoint your partner.

If the intimacy kicks you and you desire for more, go ahead or else stop after one action. It would make the partner feel that you respected their desire.

7. Reach out to a relationship counsellor or sex therapist

If you and your partner are having some problems while discussing or having sex, it is always advisable to seek professional help.

Most of us commit the mistake of speaking to our friends and close ones regarding our problems. We fail to realize that nobody can help you as much as a relationship counselor can.

They may ask you about your sexual frequency or relationship satisfaction. Answer these questions honestly.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to them to take things in a positive direction and for some extra passionate sex.

8. Read more books

While discussing sex with friends or watching sex in a movie, we often come across new information.

We get to know about new positions, techniques, role-plays, etc. However, we don’t know the correct person to ask our questions.

In such cases, you must always refer to books or countless resources available on the internet.

You will find so many tips and techniques to use and spice up your sex life. Do not refrain from using them in the bedroom.

9. Communicate your needs

It is always a good idea to discuss sex with your partner. Oh yes, there may be things they don’t do well or up to a satisfactory level. You can tell them that.

Until and unless you talk about your needs, your partner can be of little help to you and it can lead to disappointments.

Instead, talk to your partner, communicate your needs, and ask them about theirs.

10. Be patient

Even after communicating, your partner might not be able to adapt to some things quickly. But you must not lose hope or go to someone else for sexual satisfaction.

Be patient and support your partner. Do not doubt their capabilities or let any negativity creep in between you two. Everyone has their own learning curve.

Always be excited about your time in bed. Try new things together until both of you can cry happy tears of satisfaction.

A word from ThePleasantRelationship

All of us enjoy sex, but most are hesitant to accept it. This is why we often don’t know who is the right person to approach when we have sex-related queries.

Well, don’t let society make you believe that it’s a taboo. Instead, seek experts if you’ve been struggling through a dry phase for a long time.

I know, you may feel vulnerable while discussing your sexual problems. But let me tell you that you aren’t alone, there are so many others suffering similar issues as you.

In the end, remember, sex is not the ONLY means to keep you happy in a relationship, there are so many others… so while you must make effort to keep your sexual life happy, don’t dismiss the life outside the bedroom as well.