Many relationship gurus today are suggesting people forgo physical attraction and a fulfilling sex life with their potential romantic interests. People should instead “settle” with someone in which sexual attraction matters less in the grand scheme of a committed relationship.
They insist you needn’t be sexually attracted to the person you marry – for the person you will wake up to each morning every single day for the rest of your life, sex is merely “the icing on the cake” and doesn’t serve your long-term romantic interests. People must instead focus on adjusting to a more platonic arrangement where two people are “best friends” and roommates.
That’s the perfect prescription for a marriage beelining straight into divorce if there ever was one.
Sex in a long-term relationship matters. A great deal, in fact. Sex, or the absence thereof, can make or break a marriage. If you’re not having sex with the person you plan on spending your life with, it’s bound to open up a Pandora’s box of marital troubles – such as infidelity, growing apart, and alienation of affection, to name a few.
Can a relationship survive without sexual attraction? It can’t. Here’s why…
Chemistry or Compatibility
Today’s false dichotomy of “chemistry or compatibility” suggests people will have to choose between one or the other – couples are doomed to be stuck with someone they’re compatible with vs. someone they have chemistry with.
And worse, some of these so-called relationship experts suggest that people should give people they’re not attracted to a chance to prove chemistry can build over time: “Being attracted to your partner is important, but that isn’t the only thing that matters. You can have a slight attraction to someone and wind up developing amazing chemistry. You might want to spend some time doing fun things together and see if any sparks start to fly. They just might if you’re willing to let your guard down and give someone a chance.”
It’s misleading to imply that attraction just springs forth out of nowhere and to give people you’re not attracted to a chance to prove that attraction is flighty and subjective. We know within three seconds whether or not we’re physically attracted to a person. No doubt shared values and other facets of compatibility are important, but those aspects tend to be overlooked and undervalued when the attraction isn’t there.
We know within three seconds whether or not we’re physically attracted to a person.
Some are even touting the “benefits” of a platonic marriage: “Couples make a platonic commitment for different reasons. Maybe they’re disillusioned with romantic love and they’re ready to start a family with someone they love and trust, without the complications that sexual desire can bring.”
Sexual desire is said to be “complicated.” Meanwhile, being married to someone for whom you share no sexual attraction seems to be more straightforward and is the lesser issue and concern. Doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, does it?
Couples Foster Deep Attachment Through Sex
There’s a hormonal component that is tied to lifelong bonding through sex for married couples. Women release oxytocin in copious amounts with men they’re sexually attracted to, and it allows them to achieve orgasm. Oxytocin also allows women to bond with their children through breastfeeding and giving birth.
Men release smaller amounts of oxytocin but achieve bonding through sex in releasing ample amounts of vasopressin. These bonding hormones, secreted over years on a regular basis, forge these lasting bonds. This deep attachment keeps couples happy and satisfied so that they may concentrate on other facets of the marriage that are equally important. In other words, sex is the glue that holds a marriage together.
According to a study conducted by Harvard, the release of oxytocin and vasopressin is required in forming long-term attachment to our partners.
Sexual attachment keeps couples happy so they can concentrate on other important facets of the marriage.
Long-term attachment and bonding are achieved through having sex and basking in the oxytocin/vasopressin afterglow, repeatedly. Our brains and neural pathways are rewired each time we experience sex with someone we share chemistry with. And the frequent release of these hormones is necessary to feel lifelong attachment to the other person.
Infidelity and Being in Search of Greener Pastures
A sexless relationship often brings about infidelity. The “dead bedrooms” subreddit boasting 300,000 members strong is all the evidence one would need that sexual attraction is vitally important in a relationship.
Many people cheat on their spouses, declaring their needs aren’t being met, e.g. he/she doesn’t provide emotional support (which is often tied to sex) and he/she is checked out of the relationship and becomes withdrawn.
This is fertile ground for infidelity. If we can’t rely on our spouse to fulfill our innermost sexual and emotional desires, we may actively search for another individual who can.
Furthermore, it can seem like betrayal to be sexually rejected by our spouse. We want to feel desired and loved. And in facing sexual rejection in a marriage, people feel jilted and unwanted and will seek sexual and emotional validation from others.
“He/she made me feel sexy and desired.”
“He/she was willing to meet my sexual and emotional needs where you couldn’t and wouldn’t.”
“You didn’t pay any attention to me at all, and he/she did.”
Sex is about mutual gratification as much as it’s about the other person’s willingness to fulfill our sexual needs. Being faced with sexual rejection in a marriage leads to animosity, bitterness, and resentment where our spouses are often left wondering, “Is this all there is? What am I missing out on?”
You Need It All: Chemistry, Compatibility, and Great Sex, Especially When You’re Young
Chemistry, compatibility, sexual desire, trust, loyalty, shared goals and values, great conversation, and the ability to share emotional intimacy are all important in a relationship.
You shouldn’t be expected to short-change your sexual needs and desires in finding a mate to share your life with. Years down the road, after the blossom of your youth has faded and sex may or may not become less important to you, then you can romanticize platonic companionship and trekking off to faraway lands or vegging out in front of the TV together on Saturday nights.
Your exuberance and youthfulness are meant to be enjoyed having sex and bonding with the person you love.
For now, your Saturday nights should be filled with unbridled passion and eroticism with the person you love. That’s what being young is for. The first half of your life should be the honeymoon phase in your long-term relationship in enjoying each other’s crisp youth, vitality, and stamina in having fantastic sex to your heart’s content.
There’s no plausible reason to settle in a marriage devoid of sex. Thus it befuddles me that anyone would insist that young people should waste their better years in a sexless long-term relationship when their exuberance and youthfulness are meant to be enjoyed having sex and bonding with the person they love.
If we didn’t need sex as human beings, platonic marriages would be the norm and wouldn’t be hailed as a viable option or even an antidote for all else that may be missing in our relationships. Sexual thrills and passion are essential for anyone who desires a lasting marriage.
If the attraction isn’t there, you can’t force it. And sex with a person you’re not attracted to sounds like pure hell on earth, if there was such a thing.
Don’t overlook chemistry and a healthy sex life. These are essential to a satisfying and fulfilling long-term relationship.
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