What If You Can 'Take Or Leave' Sex (And You're In A Relationship)?

What If You Can 'Take Or Leave' Sex (And You're In A Relationship)?

Not too long ago, while having a conversation with someone who has recently become engaged, she said something that inspired me to tackle this topic on a grander scale. As she was expressing all of the reasons why she loves her fiancé and is ready to share her life with him, towards the end, she said, “I just wish sex wasn’t so much of a big deal to him.”

*Car screeching* (you know, screeching in my mind). Then I heard myself say, “What do you mean?”

“I mean, he wants to have sex a couple of times a week and I’m like, ‘Why is sex all that you think about?’”

When I broke down to her that coitus with your long-term partner, a couple of times a week, is actually pretty normal, she kind of shrugged and said, “I guess. Sex just hasn’t really ever been my thing.” Ah. So now we’re getting somewhere. It’s not that her man is being over-the-top; it’s that sex isn’t something that is a real priority — to her.

While we — “we” as a whole — really need to stop deflecting from our own issues by acting like something is wrong with someone else when they happen to approach life differently than we do, that’s kind of another message for another time. Today, let’s get into what you should do if you read what sis said and you can totally relate. Because while “taking or leaving sex” doesn’t necessarily mean that something is “wrong” with you, if you plan on trying to make a relationship work or last, you should at least get to the root of why that happens to be the case.

Hopefully, the following five questions can help you to do just that.

1.Have You Ever Really Been “into Sex”?


There’s a guy that I know who is currently engaged to be married. I’ve known him for many years now and because my marriage life coaching mind rarely shuts off, he’s been on my “symbolic couch” many times when it comes to deep topics — sometimes, whether he truly wants to be or not. Anyway, something that he’s always told me about sex is it’s not something that’s really a big deal to him. When he does it, for the most part, he enjoys it; at the same time, though, he can think of dozens of other things that he’d rather be doing, shoot, most of the time.

When that came back up on the heels of him telling me that his wedding date had been set, I simply said, “I hope she knows all of this because sex in a marriage isn’t just a ‘fun activity’; it’s a ‘relational responsibility’ too” (umm, even the Bible says so — I Corinthians 7:5). Like the woman that I just mentioned, he also simply shrugged, said that she seemed to be fine with his attitude about it (even though he also admitted that her drive and desire are way higher than his) and then he changed the subject. Yeah, good luck with all-a-dat.

Listen, I’ve written articles on this platform about people who like to have sex but hate to kiss (check out “Umm, What's Up With These People Who Hate Kissing?”) along with people who enjoy intercourse but close-to-loathe oral sex (check out “Sooo...What If You HATE Oral?”). The conclusion that I’ve come to is, just because a lot of us really enjoy sex (some of us to the point of not being able to get enough of it), there is also a fairly large group of folks who don’t see it as being a huge priority in their life.

It’s not due to drama or trauma either — it’s just not what tops their list of favorite things. If that’s you and it’s always been that way, again, I get it. Just make sure that it’s really “just because” because the guy that I just mentioned has some sexual abuse in his history and the woman from the intro has been faking orgasms for years. Both of them should speak with a professional, just to make sure there aren’t some unattended wounds or issues that need to be addressed.

And you know what? If what I just said about them triggered you somehow…so should you.

2.Is It a Sex Issue or an Intimacy Issue? (Or Both?)


Another thing that is definitely worth exploring is if you have a ho-hum attitude about sex itself or if there is something about intimacy that you are kinda-sorta lukewarm about. The reason why it’s important to separate the two is because while, in an ideal world, the physical act of sex and the emotions that come with intimacy would go hand in hand in a relationship, sometimes they simply…don’t.

What I mean by that is, some people don’t enjoy the closeness of sex because there are certain things about sex that they’re not super fond of. It could be the wetness of it (sweat, bodily fluids on the sheets, etc.). It could be that penetration has never been all that appealing to or stimulating for them. It could be that, ever since they began having sex, it was more about doing it for someone else or doing it to maintain the expectations of a relationship, so they’ve never figured out what pleases them when it comes to the act. It could also be that they’ve never had an orgasm before, so they don’t really get what all of the hype is about (I’m sure you see where I’m going with this).

On the (emotional) intimacy side, it could be that they don’t like how “naked” sex makes them feel when it comes to having very little to hide because, if there’s anything that encourages people to shed it all — both externally as well as internally — in order to reveal who they truly are…sex would be it. That’s why, when I first heard Iyanla Vanzant say that intimacy is into-me-see, it resonated because when the clothes are off, the make-up is off — there’s just you.

This actually reminds me of something that recently transpired in a sensuality class that I was in. The instructor was encouraging us all to make noise while breathing (like when you yawn or stretch) and it was funny to see how some folks were stressing all the way out because of it. One of the students said that she felt self-conscious about sharing that part of herself in front of other people.

Listen, I’m not sure how anyone has sex without some heavy breathing going on. Yet, since there is life inside of every breath (literally), ironically, there is an exchange of intimacy that transpires within those moments. If you’re not used to 1) letting your walls down and/or 2) revealing all of who you really and truly are, and/or 3) not just letting someone enter into your body but into your mind and feelings too — that could be why you try to avoid sex at every turn.

Hey, just something to think about.

3.What Are YOUR Expectations of Sex in a Dating Dynamic? How Realistic Are They?


There is an elephant in the room that needs to be addressed and it quite possibly has something along the lines of a church choir robe on — if you’re running cold when it comes to sex due to your religious beliefs and convictions, that’s an entirely different matter. There’s no way around the fact that the Bible defines fornication as sex between people who aren’t married and that it frowns upon that activity (Ephesians 5:3, Colossians 3:5, I Corinthians 6:9-10). So, if that’s why you’re avoiding sex in your relationship, understood.

HOWEVER, what I will say is that it doesn’t make a lot of sense to try and build a relationship with someone who doesn’t have a similar perspective and value system as you do. It’s also pretty manipulative to weaponize intimacy in the sense of using sex as a “bait carrot” to get someone to hurry up and commit to you. Bottom line, in this case, is, if you would rather do without physical intimacy due to your religious/spiritual stance, find someone who feels the same way. It’s easier on everyone involved if/when you do.

With that exception being out of the way, when it comes to “odd expectations” in this area, not too long ago, I watched a video that featured a young woman who said that while she engages in casual sex, when she’s actually interested in someone, she implements the 90-day rule because he needs to “earn” it.

Umm, maybe it’s just me but that sounds like there’s some real internal confusion and conflicted resolves going on — so, the guys you don’t really care about can get it randomly while the one you do has to work and wait? What an interesting world that we live in these days (it also sounds like she’s using sex in order to get something out of the person she’s interested in which is another low-key form of manipulation). If one person should have to earn it, everyone should. Shouldn’t they?

Anyway and again, religious beliefs (or even being atheistic or agnostic and still wanting to wait until a relationship has a full commitment attached to it) aside, a HUGE part of what takes a relationship from being “just friends” to being so much more than that is sexual intimacy; especially if you’re someone who expects sexual exclusivity with your partner. So, how much sense does it make to go into a relationship expecting your partner to have sex with no one else but you, and yet you barely want to have sex?

I can’t tell you how many wives I know who abuse sex in this way — they don’t want their man to cheat and yet they think that putting them through a sexless marriage (which is sex that is 10-15 times a year tops) shouldn’t be a problem. ARE YOU SERIOUS RIGHT NOW?

When you get a chance, go on over to Google and put “constructive abandonment” into the search field. It’s basically when a spouse can sue their partner for not fulfilling the obligations of marriage which include sex. Yep, that’s how serious sex can be. And that’s why, before even getting into a romantic relationship with someone, you should think long and hard about what your sexual expectations are in a relationship and what you would prefer your partner’s sexual expectations to be.

By the way, this isn’t something that you wait on until you’ve been dating for five months before talking about it either. Whether you’ve had sex already or not, when you both are ready to officially take things to the next level (check out “The 'Pre-Commitment Interview' Every Dating Couple Should Have”), sexual expectations need to be on the table — not what you think your partner wants or would like to hear…what is the absolute truth about where you stand…and why.

4.Are You Open to Evolving Your Views on Sex?


I’m gonna be honest with you — I’m not old but I have been around for a hot minute and with the line of work that I’m in (relationships), I’ve seen quite a bit. And when it comes to how men view sex — if they do have a religious conviction and are practicing abstinence, they don’t want to date for long and if they don’t, most are not interested in being in a relationship where sex isn’t, not just involved, but a constant in their dating dynamic (especially if they sign up to be exclusive with someone else).

So, if you’ve had a pretty nonchalant view of sex, the next thing to ponder is if you’re willing to evolve in that area. Because listen here, if there’s one thing that most men are not going to waver on, it’s their sexual appetite and needs — and at the end of the day, it’s not fair for you to expect them to just because you may be more “meh” about sex than they are.

It kind of reminds me of one of my favorite relationship quotes which says, “Relationships fail because people take their own insecurities and try and twist them into their partner’s flaws.” While having a lower libido, not being all that gung-ho about having sex, and/or being someone who likes it whenever you have it, but you’re cool going a while without it aren’t exactly “insecurities,” it’s not problematic when others have a high drive, have sex on their top five list of favorite things to do and want to have it often either.

That’s why it can really do you some good to do some sex journaling (check out “The Art Of Sex Journaling (And Why You Should Do It)”) so that you can figure out why you feel the way that you do about sex, what’s open for compromise or negotiation and what would you be willing to evolve in under the right circumstances (along with what exactly those circumstances would be). Because even if you can “take or leave sex,” chances are, there are certain things that will cause you to change your perspective…even if it's just a lil’ bit.

5.Have You Shared All of This with Your Partner? If Not, Why Not?


A husband of over a couple of decades at this point told me that when he was dating his wife, she was initiating sex all of the time. After about two years of marriage, all of a sudden, she was trying to gaslight him into thinking that he had a sex addiction (?!) simply because he wanted to engage in copulation a couple of times a week.

UGH. She sounds ridiculous.

Another husband told me that while in premarital counseling, he expressed his desire for fellatio as his wife (fiancée at the time) said that she thoroughly enjoyed giving it. In eight years, he got it four times.


Moral of the story? You are doing no one any favors by being covert about your genuine feelings when it comes to sex — no matter what they are. And if a part of you is like, “But what if he’s perfect for me but we’re just not on the same page about sex?” Then I hate to break it to you but…he’s not as ideal of a fit as you think. Among the reasons for divorce, a lack of intimacy or incompatible intimacy continues to top the list; this means that you can’t expect to be in a romantic relationship and think that someone will be fine with no sex, “meh” sex or inconsistent sex; the sooner that gets discussed, the better.

So yes — I’ll close this out by saying, it is an absolute must that if you saw yourself in this piece that you speak with your partner. It doesn’t mean that something is wrong with you; however, it is wrong to hide your views and perspectives in order to accomplish some sort of relational goal.

And what if “taking or leaving sex” is something that you feel but you’re not sure why? Setting up an appointment with your doctor to get your hormone levels checked and/or seeing a reputable life coach/counselor/therapist to see if there is something mental or emotional going on couldn’t hurt.

Bottom line is — and it really can’t be said enough — not everyone sees fireworks when it comes to sex or wants to have it every other day and that’s okay. All I’m saying is if you’re in a relationship, you shouldn’t assume that others do or should feel like you do nor should you try and make them feel bad or dismiss their own sexual needs simply because they don’t.

A part of what comes with being in a healthy relational dynamic is compatibility. Including sex. Whatever attitude you and your partner may have about it…make sure you’re both in sync (especially prior to jumping the broom). It’s only fair…and right.

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Featured image by Layla Bird/Getty Images



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