So things have turned sour in your relationship. It sucks, I know. If, like many people in your situation, you’ve found yourself sobbing uncontrollably on the bathroom floor, you probably want nothing more than to go back in time to re-experience all of the steamy, soul-melding sex you and your partner used to enjoy. That new relationship energy is so intense, so exciting and wonderful that it’s hard not to think of it as the one solution that could fix everything.
While sometimes it does make sense to focus your restorative efforts on the physical side of things, it’s even more important that you’re committed to rebuilding other areas of your relationship. Why? Because the truth is that sex can strengthen a relatively healthy relationship, but it can just as easily prolong a toxic one. Here’s what I mean…
Sex Can Be an Expression of Love
Of course it can; nothing new about that. Sex can be a lot of other things too, which I’ll cover shortly, but sex as an expression of love is the kind we often think of as the warm and fuzzy cure-all for relationship troubles. The problem is, how can one recreate that kind of intense sexual expression without the emotional foundation upon which it’s built? If the love is gone, you can have as much crazy sex as you want, and it’s not going to fix anything. Take it from someone who’s made a few relationship-saving, sexual attempts over the years and felt emptier for them. Of course, there are ways to rekindle your love for one another but it takes a lot of work, both inside and outside the bedroom.
Sex Can Be an Avoidance Technique
Sometimes when things are going to shit in our relationships, it’s tempting to ignore the larger issues and just keep focused on what feels good. Even though it might not be transcendent, sex in a failing relationship can still feel better than the alternative of nothing at all. At least that’s what we tell ourselves. I’ve certainly been guilty of trying the whole, transition-to-friends-with-benefits thing that is so extremely painful but somehow seems like a better alternative than the clean break. The clean break is always the healthiest way to end a relationship. Sex just keeps the breakup dragging on and makes it harder to recover in the long run.
Sex Can Be a Comfort-Seeking Behaviour
There are many possible reasons to reach out for sex. Sometimes we do it out of love, and sometimes we do it out of lust. In a dying relationship, we often do it out of sadness and heartbreak. It’s part of that larger lie we cling to, that letting go is ultimately more painful than continuing on in our dysfunctional relationships. If you feel helpless to fix the underlying issues that are causing the two of you to drift apart, there’s nothing to gain from seeking comfort between the sheets. It all comes down to the same thing: sex is an expression of whatever is happening in the larger sense between you and your partner. If you’re both committed to turning things around, look at strengthening all parts of your relationship in addition to the physical aspects and you’ll have a much better chance of surviving as a couple.
Also read: Are You a Sex Addict?