Do relationships really need sex to be considered romantic, intimate, and healthy?
People seem to have no problem sharing most of the details of their lives, from their meals to their post-sex faces, but there is one aspect that people don't want to share with the world, and that's a romantic relationship where there is no sex.
I spoke to Margaret and Steven (names changed), a couple in their early 50s, who live together, and in most respects have what most people would call a normal relationship except for the fact that they don't have sex.
"It's embarrassing," says Margaret, referring to when friends or family find out she and Steven don't share a bedroom.
"People think it's weird that we haven't had sex in over 11 years, and that we're not especially concerned about it."
There's a lot of shame involved for people in a sexless relationship, and they're often made to feel abnormal. But a sexless marriage or relationship is actually more normal than you think.
"We're extremely happy, and I couldn't imagine being with anyone else," Margaret continued.
Both she and Steven were content in their sexless relationship and didn't think that they needed to see a therapist or split up; they weren't broken and didn't need to be fixed.
"It hurts me when someone assumes that either Steven or I have a problem — that one of us is gay and can't come to terms with it, but that's not the case. We're definitely attracted to each other and enjoy being affectionate, it's just that neither one of us wants intercourse," says Margaret.
Do relationships need sex to be considered romantic, intimate, and healthy?
It seems as if that's the common belief, but more and more couples are staying together, even though they don't have sex anymore. What they do have is stability, companionship, and even a soulful love; just no or very little sex.
Not all relationships are exactly the same, and your relationship isn't weird if it's different from other people's. You may have alternative ways of staying connected, such as cuddling, kissing, and doing things together.
If both parties are okay without having sex, then it's a working relationship.
There are many reasons people may not want sex: they've had a drop in libido, they're too busy, too tired, or have medical issues that sex may exacerbate. Many women with endometriosis may experience pain during intercourse.
If you started to associate pain with sex, wouldn't you be grateful for a partner who understood and came up with other ways to express his affection? Lack of sex doesn't just happen to older couples, either; it can be the norm for younger ones, too.
The kind of sex you're having, or not having, shouldn't define who you are as a person. You may prefer masturbation to intercourse and that's great, as long as you're getting your needs satisfied.
You don't have to have sex to feel sexy and desirable, and you don't have to have a relationship according to other people's standards.
If a man isn't interested in sex, it doesn't mean that he's not masculine or that he’s cheating. There are many reasons a man may not want sex, such as Andropause (male menopause), low testosterone levels, and erectile dysfunction. Since these can be symptoms of undiagnosed health concerns, it's always a good idea to see a doctor.
People shouldn't be made to feel badly because they're not involved in a sexual relationship.
If your relationship works for you and your partner, that's all that matters. Just because many people have an active sex life that's a big part of their relationship, doesn't mean it has to be that way for you.
Not engaging in sexual activity doesn't mean you can't have passion and excitement in your life.
If you and your partner have come to a mutually agreed decision to not have sex, or to have sex somewhere along the line, your sex life just naturally decreased. Don't stress about it.
You can have a quality marriage or partnership without sex, no matter what other people might say.