Can A Relationship Survive Without Sex? A Sex Therapist Explains


There’s a common assumption that sexless relationships are inherently unfulfilling, or at least less fulfilling than sexual ones. But that’s actually a big myth, according to Francis.

“Not everyone wants to have sex, and not all people consider sex to be an integral part of their partnerships,” she points out.

Of course, many people do have an innate desire for sex and see it as vital to their relationships, but it’s important to recognize that that’s not true for everyone. For example, ever heard someone say they could go the rest of their lives without ever having sex again? (Or maybe that’s you?) Some people really do experience little to no desire for sex—also known as asexuality. “Asexuality exists as an umbrella, and is an example of a group of people who may intentionally create relationships that have low or no partnered sex experiences,” says Francis.

While much research has demonstrated a connection between sexual satisfaction and relationship satisfaction1, it’s important to remember “sexual satisfaction” can mean vastly different things to different people and different couples. A couple might have one single, fabulous sexual encounter a year and not really feel a desire to do it any more frequently; that’s sexual satisfaction for them. Another couple might have sex every week, but one person wants it more often and the other finds the sex to be a chore. That’s probably a pretty unsatisfying sex life, despite the fact that they’re having frequent sex.

Likewise, for some couples, having little to no sex might actually be a pretty satisfying situation. As Francis puts it, “If both partners are in agreement to not have sex, then not having sex is not a problem and can bring people closer as they create the kind of relationship that honors their desires.”

And for the record, one 2017 study2 found sexlessness in the past year had virtually no impact on an individual’s self-reported happiness—even among married people. People who had no sex in the past year reported being about as happy as those who had been sexually active. This isn’t to say that sex isn’t important to some people (it definitely is!), but it may not be as universally necessary to everyone, as we’re so often told.


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