Is Sex Necessary in a Relationship?

Sex is obviously pleasurable, but is it necessary to maintain a relationship? Like many relationship issues, the answer isn't as cut and dry as it may seem.

Sex and Satisfaction

Studies done on the impact of sex in relationship satisfaction are conflicting. Some studies show that more sex makes for a happier healthier relationship.

However, another study tracked two groups of couples. One group was asked to maintain their normal level of sexual activity, while the other group was asked to double the amount of sex they had.

Surprisingly, the group that had more sex than usual actually reported a decrease in happiness and desire. This is thought to be because the couples were being asked to have sex more often, instead of just doing it when they felt like it.

Reasons for Sex

Studies have shown that the reasons for having sex also have a significant impact on the overall relationship satisfaction.

Reasons for sex were classified into avoidance and approach. Approach goals are when sex is had to achieve a positive outcome. Avoidance goals are an attempt to avoid a negative outcome.


Approach Goals

  • More intimacy
  • Mutual pleasure
  • Feeling closer

Avoidance Goals

  • Avoiding disappointing partner
  • Avoid arguments
  • Avoid angering partner

When sex was had for approach goals, both members of the couple reported greater desire and relationship satisfaction.

When sex was had for avoidance goals, surprisingly both members reported lower satisfaction and sexual desire. This shows that sex for avoidance reasons doesn't actually prevent negative relationship outcomes.

Sexless and Happy?

In the U.S., approximately 20% of marriages are sexless. Sexless is defined as 10 or less sexual encounters in the past year. Sexless relationships are more common than you might realize, but are they happy?

Sexless relationships can be just as happy as sexual relationships when both partners needs are being met.

In short, sex isn't necessary in a relationship if you and your partner are happy without it.

Problems only occur when one person wants sex or more sex when the other partner doesn't.

Have you ever been in a sexless relationship? Were you happy? Do you believe sex is necessary for a happy relationship? Let us know in the comments!

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