Being in a relationship where it doesn’t feel like there is enough sex sounds like a trivial and somewhat comedic luxury problem, as though someone were complaining there wasn’t enough tennis or yoga between a couple.
But an absence of sex isn’t trivial in the least, it is humblingly serious and might even be what either guarantees or dooms the relationship itself.
One statistic stands out. In an average year in the OECD countries, 70% of those who initiated divorce cited a lack of sex as the first or second reason for parting. If there’s one generalisation we can make about couples, it’s that a lack of sex – by which we mean, less than four times a month – is an alarm bell we should listen to.
Why is sex such a key part of keeping two people close?
Because in sex, two people accept each other in the most profound of ways. The apparently dirty and shameful sides of us, the wayward fantasies and the unusual longings, are legitimated through sex. Someone else witnesses and accepts us as bodily and psychological beings. Sex symbolises an end to loneliness and a reaffirmation of trust. Not daring or wanting to have sex with a partner is tantamount to admitting that one can’t be oneself in their presence.
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