The Simple Truth of Sexless Relationships

It just doesn’t add up. On one hand we hear that people who live together have more sex than singles, yet we also know that the statistics on sexless marriages is on the rise. Now it could just be that we know much more about what goes on in marriages. Whatever the reason, the big surprise is that a majority of marriages end up being little more than friendships that had some sex, at some time.

Shockingly over 60% of all marriages end in divorce and for the 40% that stay together, half of them are just friends. That means they have a commitment to each other and share some essential secrets, but there is simply no passion. This is where duty sex takes place. Sex is so infrequent that when it does happen, it’s simply a process of taking the pulse. These couples are having sex 12 times per year or less…much less.

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So how do these couples manage. For some sex is not as important as staying together to raise children, pay bills and have outings together. For others where one partner wants the sex but the other one is not interested, well the simple truth is that partner is forced to outsource the sex. They find sex outside the primary relationship. That actually explains another statistic, the rate of divorce due to infidelity. About 75% of marriages in the US end in divorce because of infidelity. So it seems cheating may be a major outlet for those people in sexless relationships where one partner still wants some passion.


The research tells us that people of all ages, all races and all sexual orientations, want good sex and they have similar criteria for what qualifies as earth shattering sex. So if most of us want it, and many of us don’t get it, why do we remain in the sexless relationship? First of all, like we said before a number of sexless partners are getting their satisfaction outside the relationship. Men and women cheat on their partners at about the same rate, women just tend talk less about their sexual adventures, generally.

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Also an interesting little fact about couples and sex was revealed by Evolutionary Psychologist Christopher Ryan. He says that human beings tend to choose two types of partners for long term relationships. A social partner, for raising the kids and paying the bills; and a sexual partner for passion and fun between the sheets. So it makes more sense when we think of Ryan’s explanation, that sexless couples may stay together for practical reasons, but not for passionate reasons. They become what we call in relationship therapy, ‘ companionate lovers’ that is, friends who raise families together but are not sexually aroused by each other.


And in case you are wondering if this is love, it certainly is, and there are at least three other love relationships that don’t include sex.

Couples who no longer sizzle in the sack are likely to be in one of those. So what can you do about a relationship that’s gone flat? Well, first things first…try to remember if there was a major incident or change in the family structure before the sex died. Next, figure out how long it’s been since you really wanted sex with your partner. Experts say if it’s 5 years or more, you could actually be facing the end of the sex life together. Finally, get expert help in working through the issues that could put the ying back in your yang. |P|

Written by Dr. Karen Carpenter, Relationship & Sex Therapist (Published in PANACHE Magazine April 2016) | Find her on Twitter @loveandsexja  

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