Join Date: Mar 2021
6 Reasons Why Sex Is Important in a Relationship
Iwant to start by saying that sex doesn't need to be a part of every relationship. It might be important to you to wait a certain amount of time or until a particular life milestone (like, say, getting married) to have sex. Or, as Liz Powell, PsyD, an LGBTQ-friendly sex educator, coach, and licensed psychologist, points out, "There are people who are asexual who are in relationships where sex is mutually unimportant or undesired, and those relationships are just as valid, loving, and intimate as any others."
But for people who do decide to have sex be a part of their relationships, it's super important. Because when it comes to sex—both having it and talking about it—you and your partner need to "navigate, communicate, and compromise," says Shadeen Francis, a sex, marriage, and family therapist. Are you in-tune with each other's needs and wants? Do you trust your S.O. enough to be vulnerable with them? And to handle your bod with respect?
Beyond the emotional benefits, there are also a slew of health perks that come with doing the deed. And that helps your relationship, too—because when your stress is down and confidence is up, it's the perfect environment for your love to *flourish.* (Bonus: The physical benefits aren't reserved for penetrative sex alone, says licensed clinical psychologist Sarah Schewitz, PsyD. "It's important to realize that there are a lot of ways of being intimate physically: deep kissing, hand jobs, mutual masturbation, even watching porn together," adds Powell.)
Keeping reading to learn 6 expert- and science-backed reasons why sex is important in a relationship.
after sex glow
Photo: Stocksy Viktor Solomin
1. It gives you an emotional high
The blissful afterglow is one of the main reasons people do mega-intense workouts. And, it turns out, you experience a similar high after sex, thanks the release of feel-good hormones.
Here’s how it works: Sex releases dopamine in the brain, which increases your ambition and sense of happiness; testosterone, which improves your performance at work; and endorphins, which reduce your stress level and minimize pain. “All of these hormones together play a complex role in human pair-bonding and are essential in maintaining the glue of a relationship,” says psychologist and relationship expert Danielle Forshee, PsyD.
Plus, a study published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin has found that having sex promotes overall well-being and fosters positive emotions, particularly within 24 hours of gettin' down. So, in addition to the immediate gratification, the physical encounter with a partner creates a sort of lasting “hangover” that can strengthen your relationship, mood, and emotional bond.
2. Sex can help relieve stress
By now, you’ve probably tried the de-stressing staples: deep-breathing, massages, hot baths, and even hotter yoga. But why not add sex to the mix? “Sex releases oxytocin into the bloodstream, which promotes relaxation and stress relief,” says Francis. “And oxytocin also combats cortisol, the main stress hormone,” says Schewitz.
In fact, researchers have found that sex is similar to eating pleasurable “comfort food” in its ability to reduce tension by stimulating the brain’s reward system. And orgasm isn’t necessary to reap the benefits: Your body releases oxytocin after only 20 seconds of skin-to-skin contact, so any sort of physical touch is beneficial.
While the reduction in stress is beneficial to both parties individually, it's beneficial to the relationship as a whole, too. "Even if stress is not relationship-specific, it can interfere with how good you feel in it," Francis says.