The more sex, the better off we are? “No one has died for not having it, the desire is secondary”

“At one point, I had insecurities and I started thinking: 'If you're not looking for me and we're not doing anything, maybe you don't like me or maybe you're more interested in someone else,' explains Mar (this is not her real name), 41 years old.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
24 March 2024 Sunday 10:24
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The more sex, the better off we are? “No one has died for not having it, the desire is secondary”

“At one point, I had insecurities and I started thinking: 'If you're not looking for me and we're not doing anything, maybe you don't like me or maybe you're more interested in someone else,' explains Mar (this is not her real name), 41 years old. She and her partner, 47, have been together for twelve. A friend of hers had given her to understand that her husband “was looking for her all the time. If it wasn't a hug, it was 'I'll touch your ass'... And the same didn't happen to me. You wonder: Why aren't they looking for me all the time?

“In a group of friends, maybe one says that they are with their partner twice a week and someone feels super bad. But then you talk to another couple and they tell you: 'We're lucky once a week, or once a month...' and others say that they haven't had sex for months," says Rosario, 35, who is in a relationship. nineteen ago, and adds: “There are also the typical films or series that generate imaginaries about how it should be. I think the best thing is that each couple can find their balance and what works best for them at that moment.”

Do we tend to take the frequency of sex as an indicator of how good our relationship is? Do we interpret lack of desire as lack of love or interest? Is disagreement or dissonance on a sexual level necessarily a sign that something in our relationship is not going well?

“We have completely internalized that sex is an integral part of a romantic relationship and that a relationship without sexual activity can be considered abnormal or unsatisfactory. We live in a sex-centric society and there is social pressure to have an active sexual life. This can lead to the belief that a lack of sexual desire or activity is problematic and something that 'must be solved,'" says asexual activist Olivia Ávila.

On her social networks (@oliviaavilaruiz), she shares various content about asexuality, which, she explains, is “the sexual orientation in which the person feels little or no sexual attraction to other people.” For her, “there is a tendency to associate the frequency of sexual relations with the well-being of a relationship, as if it were something key and a fundamental pillar for everything to go smoothly. It is quite problematic, because it takes weight away from other important pillars in relationships.”

“There are couples who have very frequent sex that function very mall: that is the only place where they meet,” says Rosario. For her, “there are many other factors that can make a couple work or not. This is one more element, which is obviously super important and must be taken care of, but just as other things must also be taken care of, such as communication, personal spaces and spaces for fun and shared enjoyment, where you are not a mother, father, worker or worker. ”.

“We have learned that lack of desire is a failure and that genital sex is necessary and must be frequent for the couple to work. Furthermore, it seems that the desire appears, that you don't have to dedicate time to it, that if everything works well, it just flows. But it is not like that,” warns nurse and sexologist Silvia García Ruiz de Angulo. She explains that “Intimacy, desire and desire are built and, above all, taken care of. In the era of devastating productivity, with very high stress rates, the lack of work-life balance, the economic recession and the care crisis, how are we going to have energy left for anything? ”She asks.

“I don't believe that a lack of sex is an indicator that things are bad. What I do believe is that a more active sexual life has a positive impact, it greatly reinforces other things. Maybe it polishes fights a little and softens the friction of everyday life,” says Mar, although she clarifies: “The fact that it doesn't happen is not an indicator that we are wrong.”

In his case - he explains - “it is super linked to the fact that we have very young children. They wake up at night, ask for things, get into your bed. In the end you prioritize sleeping a little.” In general, he observes that “rhythms and routines affect you.” They recently took a trip without children for the first time. “Without all those barriers, we had much more time and we were both much more willing,” he says.

“We know that there are times when we are closer and other times further away,” explains Rosario and clarifies: “Yes, it is important. Sometimes, with motherhood and fatherhood, the couple becomes a kind of competition for who does what or who is more tired, and tensions are generated and there are fewer encounters. I think it is important to generate these spaces, to know that they do not always occur spontaneously. On the contrary, the most normal thing is that you have to look for them. "Sometimes it's lazy, but then it's very satisfying."

“Sexual desire is something that is fed. We have the image that it is something that has to magically appear to me, like in the fiery encounters in the movies. This spontaneity is neither always nor in all relationships, nor is it maintained over time if it occurs. It is expected that desire will vary throughout life and depends on many things,” explains couples therapist Lua Carreira and points out: “When the novelty wears off, it seems that desire diminishes but it really transforms. We begin to live a more reactive desire, which depends more on the context.”

The factors that can cause desire to decrease can be many and do not necessarily have to do with the couple, indicates the therapist. Being going through a bad personal moment, being very stressed, tired, worried about something. Being in a stage of adaptation, such as the arrival of a child. Or at a time when routine has invaded us and we don't have much time together.

As he observes, “more important would be to see if we communicate well, if we resolve conflicts, if our needs are covered in the relationship, if we have joint projects, if we have moments of intimacy even if they are not sexual. If we really understand each other and we are compatible.” However, he clarifies that: “It is an aspect to pay attention to, because many times in sexual life it can reflect how our connection is being on other levels. But in and of itself it is not a predictor of the quality of the relationship, nor does it have to be a warning sign.”

“Satisfaction in a relationship cannot be measured solely by the amount of sexual activity. The quality of communication, emotional intimacy, mutual support and other aspects are equally important,” says Olivia Ávila. For her, “the association between sexual frequency and the well-being of a relationship generates unrealistic expectations and unnecessary pressures. It can make people feel uncomfortable or even force themselves to do things they don't want to just so they don't feel like they are wrong, broken, or that they have 'a problem to solve.'

“The quantity of sex and sexual desire are not the only indicators of the quality of a relationship,” says sexual and couples therapist Leila López Nieto and clarifies: “While it is true that unresolved conflicts can affect desire and Therefore, sexual frequency does not necessarily mean that a healthy relationship translates into constant sexual activity.” The decrease in desire - he indicates - can be due to several factors, from an illness to a grieving process or work stress. Especially in men, he observes “a self-demand due to the widespread myth that they always have to be willing and willing to have sexual relations.”

“Sex is not a necessity, no one has died from not having sex, and desire is secondary. It is deactivated to prioritize other needs,” explains sexologist Silvia García Ruiz de Angulo. “We believe that it has an organic cause and of course, that we have something wrong but, generally, the 'lack of desire' is the tip of the iceberg of many other things that we are not taking care of, such as fatigue, lack of sleep, stress, the lack of personal space, the unresolved problems.”

“I think that for sexual activity to occur, many times it does not depend so much on what the other person generates in me, but on how I feel about myself. Sexual desire is affected by many factors, such as self-esteem, stress, sadness, anxieties, little rest, and lack of schedule coordination. It doesn't necessarily depend on whether the couple is wrong,” says Franco, 33 years old.

He observes that “socially, it is interpreted that if sexual activity decreases, your partner or relationship becomes a friend. For it to be a couple there has to be sex. And that is not so true either, because there are people who are more sexual than others.” He relates “in a non-exclusive, more polygamous way.” This means “that I can have a socio-affective bond, in which my sexual needs are satisfied and, suddenly, another bond, in which there is a lot of containment, communication, affection, emotional support, pampering, kisses, but that does not reach something sexual And that doesn't mean it's less healthy or not working well. It's just another type of relationship."

“As soon as my first daughter was born, we took several months to resume sexual relations. Beyond the physical discomfort, I think you are experiencing something completely new and your libido is not focused on sexual matters. In my case, I had no desire,” explains Natalie Simone and adds: “When we resumed, everything didn't flow perfectly. It hurt me a lot and I didn't have a good time. After a while, it became normal.”

Although it was not a pleasant situation, “we did not at all think that not having sexual relations meant that we were in a bad relationship at that time. The focus simply wasn't on there," says Natalie and clarifies: "many times it happens to us that, either because of work stress, or because we don't meet the schedule, or because one of us falls asleep while putting the children to sleep. , we are more disconnected. But we do not take it as a parameter that we are wrong.”

According to therapist Lua Carreira, it is key to “have the freedom to be able to say no, when you consider it, without retaliation, with peace of mind,” as well as “create spaces for intimacy, of all kinds, not just sexual. If I stop having dates, interesting conversations, spaces and quality time with my partner or if I feel pressured to have sex, it is difficult for me to want to.”

“Despite the fact that studies indicate that there is a huge orgasmic gap, and that the vast majority of women do not reach orgasm with penetration, we continue to call everything else preliminaries,” says sexologist Silvia García Ruiz de Angulo. “Sometimes you say: 'Oh, I haven't had relationships in a long time.' But what about a kiss, a hug? Now, for example, I am resting. But we can still meet, hug each other, look at each other,” says Rosario.

For Olivia Ávila, sex is not only not key but also not necessary for the well-being of a relationship: “It is perfectly possible to fall in love or love someone without feeling sexual attraction for that person, since there are people who can feel romantic attraction, who do not It always goes hand in hand with sexual attraction. The misperception that asexual people do not want to have romantic relationships is intrinsically linked to the idea that, if there is a lack of sexual attraction or 'disinterest' in sex, it will be very difficult or impossible to be in a relationship. But romantic love can manifest itself in many different ways. Additionally, asexual people can experience deep, loving and emotional connections with other people.”

“I believe that health in a bond or as a couple goes the other way, it is more a matter of having an honest, assertive communicative relationship, having emotional responsibility and knowing how to listen and empathize with what happens to the other person. ", says Franco and adds: "If the parties are happy with what they receive and what they give and do not feel pressured or obliged to comply with certain social standards or with what the other party asks or demands, there is no reason to there be nothing wrong. Yes, obviously there has to be compatibility. "A very sexual person will hardly be able to maintain a bond with someone who is not."

One of the last relationships he had ended precisely because of an imbalance on this level. “It all started very well, very intense, but suddenly she didn't have that much desire anymore. Many things were happening to her in her life. That ended up generating friction, different needs, and that made wanting different things not work,” he says.

For Olivia Ávila, “it is essential that couples address these concerns in an open and respectful manner, communicating their needs, desires and limits with each other. Otherwise, situations can arise in which people are forced to do things that they may not want to do.”

“I think the key to everything in a couple is always communication. We always try to talk more about what each person needs. One thing is a desire or a need of mine, and another thing is a complaint or reproach,” says Rosario.

“I think it's okay to talk about it. We have talked about it, to see if it was that we were not attracted to each other or something like that. But we have concluded that it is not going that way,” says Mar. In his case, they agreed to leave Monday to Wednesday so that “everyone can do more with their lives,” and “then on Thursdays and Fridays we try to share the nights more.” Also - she explains - “with children, it's about being a little creative... We both work from home and, for example, one day when we didn't have calls or meetings it occurred to us that midday could be a good time. “It was a fun situation.”

“If a period of time passes, about 10 days in which we did not have sex, the alarm goes off and we try to find the space and put in the desire, because afterwards we have a good time,” says Natalie Simone. Among the goals they set as a couple this year, one was sexual activity. “Not as an obligation, but to put a little more focus, since we knew that we did not have as many meetings as we would like, and also to not lose that connection that we believe is important. We also decided to go out to eat alone more. It seems to me that they are all important points to take care of the couple,” she indicates.

“It is important to avoid automatically assuming that a lack of desire indicates a lack of interest in the relationship or, what is worse, thinking that that person has encounters with another person and that is why they do not have the desire left when they get home,” says the therapist. Leila López Nieto and advises that “the person with the greatest initiative never pressures or insists on the person who has the least desire,” since “that causes the opposite effect to occur. It is also essential not to make jokes about it and not fall into the 'I'm doing it so he'll leave me alone.'" She recommends leaving the pressures aside and talking about the issue in an “honest, close, empathetic and free of reproach” way.