Are sexless relationships more common than we think?


Should a lack of intimacy be a cause for concern for couples? Does a lack of erotic pleasure mean a relationship is doomed? Social pressure and self-imposed expectations regarding sexual performance often create issues where there might not actually be any

A couple relaxes in bed.
A couple relaxes in bed.SHUTTERSHOCK

Understanding why many couples choose to stay together when passion and sex are no longer part of the equation can teach us a lot about love. It's an uncomfortable reality, especially considering the value our culture places on eroticism. Paradoxically, in a society where a wide array of narratives about love and relationship styles exist, we still struggle to accept that sexless couples can be truly happy without the steamy stuff. But what do we mean by a sexless couple? A standard definition might be a couple who, in absolute terms, either do not have sex or engage in erotic encounters less than once a month.

So, why would a couple hit pause in the bedroom? It's not always about losing interest or waving bye-bye to attraction. Sometimes life just takes over. You know, the daily grind, stress, or maybe even the arrival of kids. It's like in the beginning, sparks fly, but then life starts throwing other stuff our way.

Imagine this: the honeymoon phase ends, and suddenly, the fascination dwindles, but the attraction and desire stick around. Or maybe the physical attraction fades, but the urge for intimacy is still there. Then there's stress, monotony, age, all throwing a wrench in the whole sex appeal thing. But hey, the physical attraction's still in play.

And get this, not having sex doesn't automatically mean zero attraction. It's not like everyone turns asexual because they're not in the mood. Adults, they're all about finding other ways to feel connected: affection, closeness, emotional support — it all counts.

Love, More Than Just Passion

Passion has a tendency to be seen as an irrational force, as the element that ignites and sustains relationships. It signals physical attraction, the search for pleasure and immediate enjoyment. But love isn't solely built on desire.

Beyond the romantic ideal — the one that Hollywood has been feeding for years and more recently, the successful Turkish soap operas — love demands a strong and shared commitment, high levels of communication, and, of course, trust, respect, and honesty.

The effort to nurture these elements should be mutual, equitable, and constant. As we've mentioned before, a relationship is hardly healthy and fulfilling when reciprocity is absent, when only one partner maintains interest in nurturing the bond.

However, while some couples don't experience discomfort when sex fades or deliberately choose to enjoy their relationship without sexual activity, there are also those who, due to the absence or infrequency of erotic encounters, experience significant dissatisfaction. Placing greater value on sexuality and shared eroticism in a relationship constitutes a relatively recent change. There's less taboo, more freedom, greater acceptance of diversity, fewer sexual fears or prejudices.

Non-negotiable Eroticism?

As the meaning of sex in our society has been redefined, detached from reproductive function and distanced from adjectives like 'dirty,' 'improper,' or 'immoral,' its importance in our love lives has also changed. That's why, in its absence, it's crucial that we question what intimacy means to us. Laziness as opposed to sexual initiative (and variety), prioritizing activities that don't require effort, or lack of time amidst marathon workdays might make sex seem undesired but still a necessary element for the well-being of the couple.

If your love story's feeling more like a drama because of the lack of action, don't sweat it alone. Maybe try some sex therapy. Sometimes, a fulfilling relationship needs a little help from the spicy side of life.

*Loola Pérez is a qualified sexologist.