Should Bad Sex Actually Be A Relationship Deal-Breaker?

Should Bad Sex Actually Be A Relationship Deal-Breaker?

Sometimes, when it comes to what I have written for this platform, it takes someone inboxing me with a link to trigger my memory. Take an email that I got not too long ago asking me about “These Are The Deal-Breakers You Shouldn't Hesitate To Have In The Bedroom.” Actually, they were using this as a segue into a different type of issue because what they wanted to know is, what if the deal-breaker, in their eyes, is the sex isn’t that good with their partner?

They weren’t talking about a casual sex situation either. No, this woman has been with her man exclusively for about 10 months, and it just doesn’t seem like the sex is improving. She shared that she senses that he is going to propose soon, and although she loves him, she is having a hard time thinking that she can spend the rest of her life not hanging off of chandeliers (my words, not hers; she was a bit more…graphic), and so, she wanted to know what she should do about it.

For her, there were some other factors that came into play that we had to work through. Anyway, I’m happy to share that she and her man are making some headway and it looks like they are going to be able to go the distance. However, because I’m aware of the fact that,reportedly, about one-third of Americans are not exactly happy with their sex life — this means that at least a handful of our readers are low-key pissed about theirs too.

If that’s you, you’re about at your wit’s end when it comes to your own bedroom, umm, situation, and you’re not sure what to do about it, here are my two cents about how you should tackle the question of whether or not bad sex is truly a relationship deal-breaker.

What Makes the Sex “Bad”?


Before we go any deeper on the topic, at the expense of patronizing y’all just a bit, let’s review what the word “bad” means. While I know that everyone learned it as a tot, actually, that’s kind of my point: words like bad and good are so elementary that sometimes we forget that they tend to have some pretty layered meanings:

Bad: not good in any manner or degree; having a wicked or evil character; morally reprehensible; of poor or inferior quality; defective; deficient; inadequate or below standard; not satisfactory for use; inaccurate, incorrect, or faulty; invalid, unsound, or false

Synonyms: awful, cheap, poor, abominable, careless, atrocious, imperfect, substandard, second-rate, unacceptable

See what I mean? When you think about your sex life with your man, it’s one thing if it’s second-rate vs. not being good in any manner or degree, or it’s below standard vs. careless and unacceptable. So…which is it? Pull out your journal (a sex journal if you have one; check out “The Art Of Sex Journaling (And Why You Should Do It)” if you’ve never heard of one of those before), ponder all of the definitions that I just provided and get really honest with yourself about what kind of bad sex you’re having; then think about what actually makes it bad.

For instance, I was once in a relationship with someone who, while the actual act of sex itself was pretty good, the kissing was damn near horrifying — not some of the time either. It was ridiculously inaccurate, about 8.5/10. Listen, a few years ago, I penned an article for the platform entitled “Wanna Climax More? KISS MORE.,” so I’m a huge believer that good kissing leads to even better sex, which means that I couldn’t ignore the fact that I really couldn’t go on, indefinitely, with our kisses being totally out of sync. So, while that wasn’t the only reason why I ended things, it definitely played a valid part.

Bottom line here is, sometimes, when you stop speaking in generalizations and you actually get to the root of a word and how it is directly impacting you, that alone can help you to see if there is a way to come to some sort of resolve or compromise — or, at the very least, it can help you to be clear and concise should you decide to communicate your thoughts, feelings, and needs with your partner. Look over the definitions. Where do things land for you?

Is “It” Actually a Reflection of Your Relationship?


I promise y’all that I wish I could remember where I once heard that "good sex is 10 percent of a marriage while bad sex is 90 percent" because what happens in the bedroom sets the tone for the rest of the house. It’s so on-point when you stop to consider that sex is an expression of the level of intimacy, communication, and connection that two people feel. With that being said, the next thing that you should think long and hard about is if the coitus that is going down is actually mirroring some breakdowns in your relationship overall.

Let me explain. I’m pretty sure that it comes as absolutely no surprise to y’all thateven research reveals that what women look for most in a romantic relationship with a man is their ability to fully and completely trust him. So, if there is something transpiring in the relationship that is preventing you from trusting your own man, I’m sure you can get why and how that could influence how you respond or react to him sexually. Or, say that you know that you have trust issues, period — things that, if you were really honest with yourself, is your ish and not his. This could cause you to have walls (if not barbed wire fences) that could keep you from fully letting go and enjoying all of your sexual experiences with him.

Another example (that I oftentimes have to deal with when it comes to some of my clients) is not having — which, at the end of the day, is more like not making — enough quality time in the relationship. When you’re not spending time with each other to solely focus on one another, not only does that lead to a disconnect, but it can also make foreplay a bit subpar. The correlation is, that if you’re not cherishing one another outside of sex, you may want to rush foreplay, and that can lead to all sorts of sexual displeasure (especially for us women).

And that’s why, yep, the next thing to do is ask yourself if there are areas within your relationship that are “missing the mark” and if that could be the main reason why the sex doesn’t seem to be blowing your mind.

Are You Taking Any Personal Accountability?


Uh-huh. I know that some of y’all may not want to hold a mirror up and look into it, yet stats are based on facts, and the reality is that 1 in 4 men fake orgasms too (check out “Men Fake Orgasms (And 14 Other Semi-Random Things About Them In Bed).” A top reason is that they don’t want to hurt their partner’s feelings by telling them that they are not completely satisfied with how things are going.

One time, when I took my own unofficial poll about all of this, the three things that guys told me that they wished was better when it came to sex with their partner was better fellatio (check out “Do You Swallow? The Unexpected Health Benefits Of Sperm,” “Umm...Wanna Learn How To Swallow? Try These 10 Hacks.” and “The Secret To The Ultimate Oral Sex Experience? Lip Gloss.”), not enough dirty talk and not enough initiating/spontaneity from the woman (check out “Why You Should Be Initiating Sex More Than You (Probably) Are”).

Yeah, I know that it’s oh so easy to think that if sex is not up to par, surely, it’s not because of anything that you’re doing, not doing, or could be doing better — however, just like it takes two to make a relationship work, it also takes two to cause fireworks in the bedroom to go off.

So, if you want to get to the root of what’s happening — or rather not happening — in between the sheets, you need to prepare yourself for your partner to have some critiques, insights, and/or suggestions…too.

After All Of This, Does It Seem Like Y’all Are Simply Sexually Incompatible?


And what if after going through all of what I just said, you’re pretty much responding, like “Nope, that ain’t it” — what should you do then? Listen, if I didn’t think that there wasn’t such a thing as “sexual incompatibility,” I would’ve never written articles like “What Exactly Does It Mean To Be Sexually Compatible?” for the platform.

For this one, let me first say that if you’re married, you definitely should take a different approach than if you are not. Marriage is serious, and no matter how much our culture tries to act like it’s nothing more than a glorified dating dynamic, that couldn’t be further from the truth. So, for you, before doing anything else, please read “6 Tips For Dealing With A Sexually Incompatible Spouse,” then consider seeing a sex therapist (check out “Have You Ever Wondered If You Should See A Sex Therapist?”).

I’ve worked with couples who, with the right tips and a mutual desire to turn things around, have been able to significantly improve their sex lives. After all, incompatible (“unable to exist together in harmony”) doesn’t have to be a death sentence. You can oftentimes learn things that can make you become more compatible in time.

For the rest of y’all, it’s always important to keep in mind that you’re not married until you actually are. What I mean by that is, if a relationship that will go the distance is what you are truly after, forever is a long time to sign up for exclusivity (if dating) or monogamy (if married), and there are far too many people who talk themselves out of areas of dissatisfaction only to “suffer in silence” or cheat.

Aight, so is this my way of saying that bad sex is a good enough reason to end a relationship? Deeper than that, what I’m saying is dating means that you are figuring out what/who works for you and what/who does not. And so, after giving it your best and all, dots still aren’t connecting or puzzle pieces still aren’t fitting well together, it is not shallow or selfish of you to move on. If anything, it is mean to stay and keep putting pressure on your partner to try at something that, with someone else, there may be no issue at all.

  • If you like BDSM and he hates it, why stay?
  • If you hate oral and he adores it, why stay?
  • If you want sex three times a week and he prefers a couple of times a month, why stay?

I promise you that you both can find someone who wants what you do instead of you each trying to manipulate one another into being (or becoming) something that, at your core, you both know that you are…not.

What Are You Losing If You Leave?


Before I close this out, there is one more thing that I absolutely need to mention: what are you standing to lose if “bad sex” is indeed your deal-breaker? Because now that you get that not thoroughly enjoying sex with your partner may be about more than just the sex itself, it would be a shame to lose a great man if a few honest and open conversations, a bit of revising and tweaking, and some patience are all that you needed in order to get what you’ve been yearning for.

Unfortunately, we live in a world where folks will stay in some totally dysfunctional relationships because the sex is so good and yet will toss out a good man or woman in a heartbeat because the sex, well, isn’t so good. In real-time, I know someone who isn’t thrilled with their partner sexually, yet they have no intentions of breaking up with them because “they are one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met.” For them, sex appears to be the icing on the cake, so they can make it work. So-so sex is not a deal-breaker for everyone. Clearly.

So yes, the final focus is to answer the question: does the “bad sex” make up 10 percent or 75 percent of what is a top three priority for you? If it’s the former, stick it out. If it’s the latter…don’t lie to yourself and say that it isn’t. Typically, that only leads to you nitpicking other stuff about your partner and/or the relationship due to how unhappy, in the bedroom, that you are.


If you thought that something like bad sex in a relationship was going to have a black-and-white, cut-and-dried answer — sorry not sorry. LOL. Sex is complex, like so many things in life.

I do hope that this, in some way, offered some light in the tunnel about what needs to be done about the matter, though.

Bottom line, sex is a valid enough need to get the need met.

If after some real effort, there’s no way that it can be…a deal-breaker, it is.

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