How Important Is Sex In A Relationship?

Updated April 9, 2024by Regain Editorial Team

How important is sex in a relationship? This is a question that varies from person to person, but  it’s an important topic that requires having a healthy and open conversation about it in your relationship. The last thing you want is one or both people being regularly dissatisfied but not saying anything about it. That sort of silence can lead to increased distance and, eventually, separation. In this article, you will learn why sex is important, what can lead to its decline, how to assess whether you are having enough, and what to do if you think your sex life could use some work.

Why is sex so important for relationships?

Are you unsure about the physical side of your relationship?

On a basic level, your sex drive is a fundamental part of your biology. Humanity has evolved to maintain extraordinary comfort levels and strive to achieve higher principles, but we are still motivated by a desire to seek physical pleasure and procreate. Sex is highly pleasurable and leads to creating more offspring. Accepting that sex is something your brain will seek in one form or another is important for emotional health. Anything you can do to minimize stress levels for your relationship is a good thing.

Why sex is important to relationships involves a lot more than just physical drives, however. There are strong emotions that often come into play. Sex can develop a deeper sense of commitment and affection. It can be a way of being completely vulnerable with your partner that often increases confidence that you truly care for one another. After all, many of us are insecure about our physical appearance and our abilities as sexual performers. When we find someone who loves everything about us, including those aspects, it can be affirming.

There are all sorts of  doctors have identified from sex over the years, such as reducing blood pressure, improving immunity, reducing prostate cancer risk, and reducing stress.  While things like increased physical fitness or improved immune response shouldn’t be the primary driver behind pursuing sex or not, it certainly doesn’t hurt its positive impacts.

Perhaps most importantly, when sex is a positive experience for both partners, it can create a positive feedback loop. Enjoyable sex with your partner can help you feel more affectionate for them and more satisfied in general with your relationship. This helps you feel more comfortable, relaxed, and happy around your partner, which in turn can lead to increased physical intimacy. While the amount and type of sex can vary widely for different couples, studies show that it can improve your relationship.

If sex is so great, why are there so many problems around it?

There are several emotional, physical, and psychological factors that can lead to changing sex life. The first and most obvious is that all relationships tend to decrease in sex over time. In the early days, the spark of attachment is strong and invigorating. You are just getting to know one another, and many couples go through a period where they have a high amount of sex. It’s fun, but it usually doesn’t last. Sex frequency declines over time as the relationship goes on.

Another common factor that limits sexual contact is changing priorities. As relationships deepen, you may start to take on bigger goals together, such as buying a house or raising a family. You will become more deeply entangled in each other’s personal and professional lives. When your relationship starts to turn towards these factors that may encourage long-term commitment, the close sexual bond can decline or even fall by the wayside.

This is also connected to how stress can drive down sex. Individually or as a couple, you may become embroiled in several stressful issues. Because your lives are so deeply intertwined, your partner’s stresses become your stresses and vice versa. When general anxiety is high, it becomes harder to initiate sex comfortably. The stress barrier isn’t insurmountable, but it does take awareness of the problem and deliberate action to overcome it.

Physical barriers can also develop. Your partner may develop a health problem that makes sex difficult, if not impossible. A health crisis can lead to a physical change that decreases your attraction to one another, making sex less spontaneous and fun than it used to be. Many couples report that after having children, their sex drive plummeted. Whatever the cause, your body can seem to lose interest in sex.

Finally, just like having sex too soon can lead to a subconscious feedback loop, no interest in sex can lead to a negative feedback loop. Because sex is so emotional, not having it can be emotionally fraught. When your partner doesn’t feel like having sex, it can feel like they don’t want to be with you, that maybe they don’t even care for you the way they used to. This can damage your self-esteem and intimacy, leading to greater distance and distrust, in turn leading to even less sex. Couples in this situation can start feeling like their only escape is to cheat.

Are you having enough sex?

There is no short answer to this question, no equation or assessment tool to set the number of times, length of session, and various activities you and your partner should have. Sex is dependent on each person’s libido and general interest. If you feel like having lots of sex but your partner is rarely interested, that’s a bad sign. Similarly, if both people feel fairly in sync about what’s a good amount, that can be great.

What matters most is not about having enough sex but having the right amount for you and your partner. This is why having an open and honest conversation about sex is so important. Society places a lot of pressure on the idea that what matters is how many people you have sex with and how often. Even just by comparing yourselves to your immediate social circles, if some of your friends seem to be doing it all the time, it can feel like if you’re not having sex it’s because your relationship isn’t as strong.

This isn’t necessarily true, however. Some people love sex, can’t get enough of it, and have the stamina to last a long time. Some people are rarely interested in having sex, if at all. Most of us are somewhere in between, and there’s a lot of variability in there. As with other issues, what matters with sex is how close you are on how much is enough, how well you communicate about it, and how well you handle times when you’re out of sync.

Talking with your partner about sex

Before you start talking to your partner about sex, be careful of your timing. Don’t try to talk about sex just before or after having sex. Talking about it just before may make the ensuing sex more awkward (or cancel it outright). Talking about it immediately after can come across like you have judgments or problems you just thought of during the act. Try to start the conversation in a more neutral way, where you can both be a little more relaxed about it.

If you aren’t sure where your partner stands on sex, or you would like to start exploring the subject with them more deeply, here are some questions you can ask each other to develop a better conversation.

  • What are your feelings around sex, good and bad? What do you like about it? What stresses you out? Where do you think your hang-ups and quirks come from? How can your partner help or hurt in those areas?
  • What, in general, does sex mean to you? How does that vary in different situations? (Note: sex does not always have to be a romantic and careful encounter, nor does it have to be a hard and fast affair. It’s healthy to acknowledge that you don’t want the same experience or connection every time.)

These are just some considerate starting points for exploring this topic with your partner. Whatever you do, understand that this will likely need to be a series of conversations. Sex is complicated. It takes time to dig up, understand, and discuss all the different thoughts and feelings around it. If you and your partner can learn to take the time to do that, you will both be better for it, and so will your relationship.

What can you do to improve your sex life together?

Many couples don’t realize they have an issue around sex until they take some time to look at their satisfaction with their sex life. It’s easy to drift into a new normal before you realize things are different. But now that you do know and are working with a healthier open dialogue, you can start taking steps to address it.

Here are some general tips to improve your sex life:

Consider different books or resources to explore your idea

If you had a good conversation during your talk about sex with your partner, you probably identified either areas that you want to improve or completely new things you want to try. There are countless resources out there for new and interesting ways to spice up your sex life. Don’t be afraid to use them.

Be intentional about changing things up, even to the point of scheduling it

Talking about sex in a new way is one thing. Trying something new with your partner can be a whole different kind of daunting. Get on the same page about what you want to try, when, and possibly even how you plan to do it. If you aren’t intentional about it, you’re much more likely to slip back to old habits. Talking about it beforehand will also make it ok if it doesn’t work out. Sometimes new ideas take practice, so create a safe space for you both to experiment.

Continue to practice patience

Even with all the healthy dialogue and support globally, tempers can flare, self-esteem can be wounded, and doubts can start to creep in. This is natural. Do not panic if negative feelings emerge. Acknowledge them as part of the process of learning something new, reaffirm your excitement for learning to do these new things with your partner, and try to be present for their struggles as well.

See a relationship counselor

Professional help is always valuable, but it can be vital when it comes to talking about sex. You and your partner may be lucky enough to have such a close bond that even you can be present, calm, and compassionate when talking about sex. However, for many people, some professional support is crucial to keeping things moving in a positive direction.

Everyone has sex, but not the same way

Are you unsure about the physical side of your relationship?

Sex is simultaneously a universal idea that everyone understands and an extraordinarily individual experience between two specific people. With strong roots in our biology and psychology, it’s no wonder that trying to achieve a ‘healthy sex life is such a common issue. As with any relationship issue, one of the keys to getting there is open and honest communication backed by patience and compatibility.

Working with your partner to understand one another’s desires and work towards a common goal is tricky under the best of circumstances. While you will both have to learn to work together, achieving real growth is much easier with the support of certified relationship counselors. With professionals like the ones at Regain, you and your loved one can get well on track.

In some situations, individuals (or couples) may have emotional or mental roadblocks related to sexual issues. In these cases, a therapist can help by working with partners or individuals to overcome difficulties such as intimacy issues or performance anxiety – all in a safe, supportive, and nonjudgmental environment. Therapists can help patients wok through a variety of sex-related concerns, such as sexual anxiety, sexual trauma, mismatched desire, poor body image (and how it relates to sex), sexual addiction, and improving communication, among other things.  

Studies have also found that online therapy is just as effective as in-person in many situations. 

Counselor reviews

“Austa has been wonderful thus far. She has helped my partner and I during an unimaginably difficult time… She has also guided us in communicating effectively and setting appropriate boundaries in our relationship. I was hesitant to pursue counseling at the beginning, but I truly believe that it is making a difference for our relationship. Austa is easy to talk to and she is a great listener. I would wholeheartedly recommend her as a counselor.”

“Sessions with Natalie are very insightful and give practical advice on implementing new habits and changes. Be prepared to engage and be challenged to think in a different way. I know that my partner and I can already see improvements in our relationship and feel more positive about working through our issues together.”


At the end, how much sex you have isn’t as important as if it’s the right amount for each of you. Sex is important in a relationship, but only in so far as it’s yet another expression of how well you click with each other. If you use the questions and ideas described in this article, you’ll be one step closer to understanding how to manage sex in your own life healthily. If you need more help, reach out to Regain and connect with a counselor right away.

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