Sex in Relationships: How Much Does it Matter?

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December 5, 2022
Read Time: 3 minutes

Sex in relationships? Here are the benefits of a physical connection between partners

 

 

Whether you’re saving it for marriage or taking it for a spin on the third date, sex can play a significant role in any relationship. How significant that role is will ultimately depend on what you and your partner consider valuable. 

 

According to many couples, sex isn’t everything. Yet, despite bold declarations of love conquering all, a bad sex life can take a mental toll on anyone.

 

As per recent studies, your sexual relationships have the potential to influence your chances of tying the knot—but how much does this ring true?

 

 

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Sexual attraction—does it make or break a relationship?

Most people feel physically attracted to a potential partner before developing an emotional connection. Yet, this initial spark is no guarantee your sex life will be pushing 100%.

 

According to studies conducted by the Kinsey Institute, while physical attractiveness is a trait most individuals gravitate toward, it isn’t a top priority for all. Most become drawn to traits like intelligence, kindness, honesty and humor. 

 

However, men and women don’t hold these values identically. As per sex therapist Dr. Elizabeth Perri, most men internalize either/or perspectives of women—that those with the so-called “wife material” trait are not sexually attractive or adventurous.

 

Yet, this doesn’t ring true for many long-term married couples who have satisfactory or even hotly explosive sex lives. So does physical intimacy itself matter or do societal pressures make us too malleable?

 

Why sex is beneficial to your relationship

If you view a relationship as a full-course meal, sex is often an integral part of it. Perhaps for some, it’s a side dish. For others, it could be the entrée. Whatever the case, science—yes, science!—has proven the benefits of a healthy sexual relationship. 

 

During sex, the body releases oxytocin, which increases emotional intimacy and a sense of bonding. Thus, expressing physical love can subsequently increase feelings of trust and devotion. In addition, sex poses significant psychological benefits, like a better self-image, stress relief and overall happiness. And don’t forget better sleep—when you orgasm, the body releases prolactin, a hormone that improves sleep.

 

Frequent sex can also improve cognitive function, so you’ll likely remember whether or not you switched the oven off whenever you leave home. Top off the list with improved cardiac health, weight loss, lower pain levels and exercise equivalent to a moderate workout like brisk walking.

 

 

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So, how much should you be having?

While there are no hard and fast rules to the ideal frequency of sex that couples should be having, studies have shown that having sex at least once a week after no sex at all generally increases relationship satisfaction.

 

However, there is nothing in any sex handbook that correlates more sex with higher levels of happiness. While frequency decreases with age and changes in lifestyle, having regular intercourse can keep relationships stable and exciting.

 

Building intimacy outside of sex

Sexual intimacy isn’t the only intimacy that makes a relationship healthy. There are many ways to increase emotional intimacy, such as to improve the quality of your interactions. 

 

Take a few minutes each day to silence your electronics and spend time talking, reflecting or having a laugh. Give your dust-gathering board games an opportunity to re-manifest and awaken your inner child. Read a book together. Write a book together.

 

More importantly, seek help if you need it. Despite the taboo surrounding marriage counseling, you’ll find that third-party help can, if not enhance your relationship, give it closure.

 

Should we break up?

Whether sex is a reason to break up will ultimately depend on what it means to you. For couples whose primary love language is physical touch and sexual intimacy, a lack of it can potentially lead to the end of a relationship. 

 

According to Lucie Fielding, author of Trans Sex: Clinical Approaches to Trans Sexualities and Erotic Embodiments, ending a relationship over sex is reasonable; the expert says, “Absolutely.” For some, the absence of physical intimacy is a dealbreaker, but this doesn’t always have to be the case.

 

The universally accepted notion of compulsory sexuality is harmful because it assumes all people want and need it. In fact, this isn’t the case, especially given that the asexual spectrum exists. Sex is not always a priority.

 

 

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Decreased sexual activity or losing it entirely is challenging for every relationship. However, it doesn’t have to spell the end of your connection.

 

Fulfilling relationships are defined by how you want them to be. If other aspects of your relationship are enough, then it’s up to you and your partner to define the gravity of what sex means to you.

 

 

Copy Zoë Isabela Alcazaren

Art Macky Arquilla

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