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How Long Is Too Long Without Sex in a Relationship?

February 10, 2024

Going a long time without sex in a relationship can be really difficult. 

Sometimes it’s hard to understand that a lot of things can get in the way of your sex life. 

If you’re struggling emotionally, worrying that your partner doesn’t want to have sex with you or, if you yourself are going through a dry spell but don’t know how to explain this to your partner, it’s important to gain an understanding of the causes and potential solutions in order to move forward in your relationship. 

There’s a lot of pressure on couples sexually, yet it’s completely normal to experience a mismatched libido or even a dry spell; it’s just not something that’s often spoken about.

Let’s take a closer look into some of the problems a couple may experience when going too long without sex in a relationship and how to overcome it in order to maintain a healthy romantic relationship. 

Key Takeaways

  • Having a good sex life and experiencing sexual satisfaction are two different things. 
  • There can be a lot of reasons why a couple might go through a dry spell, external factors outside of your relationship problems such as stress or both physical and mental health.
  • Never blame yourself if your partner is going through a dry spell, and try not to think the worst; reassurance and communication is key. 
  • Try not to compare yourself to the standard set by society. Your relationship is unique.

How Long to Wait Before Having Sex in a New Relationship?

You can wait as long as you feel necessary. You will find no sex shaming here! If you want to hook up on the first date, then go ahead and enjoy yourself. If you want to wait months or even longer then that’s totally okay too. 

Social pressure can often make women think that they need to rush into things, but, if you’re dating the right person for you, then they won’t mind waiting. 

Having sex early in the dating stages can be beneficial as it can bring you closer; I mean, you want to make sure that you’re sexually compatible. However, waiting can also help you to develop an emotional connection. It can be easy to mistake sexual chemistry for genuine attraction. 

I would personally recommend finding a balance that works for you. Sexual intimacy isn’t a result of just having sex. You can build sexual intimacy without actually having intercourse. For example, you may refrain from sex (for a number of different reasons), but still be intimate together. 

Ultimately, you will experience sexual desire for somebody, but waiting can add to the excitement for when you finally have sex. 

Follow your gut instinct. If you have a strong connection with this person and don’t feel the need to wait, or even if you have a high sex drive and have needs to be fulfilled; as long as you’re doing what's right for you. 

If you typically find that you ‘rush into things’, then consider mixing it up and waiting a while. You may decide to wait a month, but then change your mind, that’s totally okay too.

It would be wrong of me to tell you what I think is right because there really is no right and wrong when it comes to waiting to have sex with your partner. Don’t submit to society's expectations, but do consider your own boundaries. 

Don’t allow yourself to feel rushed or pressured, and really take the time to think about what it is you’re actually looking for with this partner. 

How Can I Explain to My Partner that I Don’t Want to Have Sex?

Couple having a serious talk

This can be a tricky one. 

There’s a couple of reasons why you might refrain from sex with a partner. You may be in the early stages of your relationship and are deciding to wait, you may not want to have sex at all, you may be in a long term relationship and are struggling with a low sex drive or you might just simply not be in the mood.

According to the NHS, these are the potential reasons for a loss of libido:

  • Relationship problems
  • Stress, anxiety or depression
  • Sexual problems (such as erectile dysfunction or vaginal dryness)
  • Hormone levels or pregnancy 
  • Menopause
  • Medication (such as antidepressants)
  • Alcohol consumption 
  • Contraception

Struggling with low libido, or a mismatched libido in a relationship is difficult. You want to feel happy and comfortable within yourself, without feeling guilty about your partner’s sexual needs, and you may want to work on your libido in order to contribute to your overall relationship satisfaction.

It’s totally okay to not want to have sex with your partner, it’s just important that you’re communicative. You want your partner to understand how you’re feeling but you also want to show compassion to their feelings too.

You may decide to work through this together, or you may decide to compromise. Remember, there are other ways to increase sexual intimacy without actually having sex.

If you’re in a relationship, it’s important that you don’t become complacent, because then without sexual intimacy, what’s separating your relationship from just friendship? You can reassure your partner, and still show him intimacy. Intimate moments are crucial for you to feel romantic together. 

Take an extra 5 minutes in bed in the morning for a cuddle and a kiss, be vocal about your emotions, and consider non sexual intimacy. 

How to Survive a Dry Spell When Your Partner Is Away?

Working on your sexual relationship long distance can be difficult, but there are certainly ways to combat this. 

Long distance relationships can be a blessing, as it can encourage intimacy, and it’s healthy to miss your partner every now and again. I completely understand that it’s upsetting to be away from your partner, but time apart can honestly make the heart grow fonder (I love a good clichè).

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Surviving a dry spell whilst your partner is away is all down to communication. Naturally you’ll call and text where possible, but it’s important to actually allow yourselves quality time together. 

You may schedule time each day to video call, or make plans to meet up where possible (of course, it depends on the distance), but ultimately you want to show that you’re still making the effort. 

In terms of sexual intimacy, consider phone sex. Phone sex is hot, and doesn’t at all need to be embarrassing if this is what you’re concerned about. Spend the days texting, flirting, sending spicy photos, and talk about how excited you are to finally see them; there are many ways to keep that spark alive long distance. 

There are even specific sex toys for long distance relationships. For example, consider a love egg. Long distance sex toys allow your partner to control your pleasure from a distance, and you can even wear a love egg outside of the house if you’re really looking to spice things up. 

Why Doesn’t My Partner Want to Have Sex with Me?

Woman hugging, man looking uncomfortable

Going without sex in a relationship isn’t always down to a woman's low libido. People often assume that men have higher sex drives, and although this is generally true, it isn’t always the case.

If your partner doesn’t want to have sex with you, it can feel harder to overcome. We’ve already established the stereotype that men have higher libidos, so consider how difficult it may be for a man to talk about this in order to help you understand the cause. 

It’s super important to encourage communication and to not blame yourself. A common worry can be that he’s cheating; again, not always the case! In most cases, it can be down to stress, mental health, or even medical conditions, so it’s important that you’re supportive and understanding. 

Remember, he’s probably feeling guilty enough about it as it is. It can feel like a lot of pressure knowing that your partner depends on you for sexual satisfaction, so it’s important to take this strain off rather than adding to his stress. 

My first suggestion will be to ask him about it. Don’t pressure him, but consider what’s actually the cause of his low libido and how you can work together to ensure that you’re both sexually satisfied. 

It may be that you’ll have to masturbate for a while to take a little bit of the pressure off of him, and that’s totally okay; in fact, I’d even encourage it! Masturbation has many health benefits and it’s important that you have a good sexual relationship with yourself. 

If you’re missing sexual intimacy in your relationship, take it upon yourself to fulfill your own needs, but also explain this to your partner. Let him see that you’re understanding, and that you’re more than happy to sort yourself out for a little while whilst he gets back into the swing of things.

Eventually, you will get back into a routine with this, it’s just about finding that balance to make sure that you’re both feeling happy and satisfied. 

With that being said, make your boundaries clear. 

Don’t ever give him an ultimatum, but it's important that you’re feeling happy in your relationship. You don’t want to get to the point where you start seeking sexual interactions elsewhere. 

Make sure that although he doesn’t want to have sex with you currently, that he’s making the effort to try and that he’s still working on his emotional closeness with you through some sort of intimacy.  

If you’re in a sexless relationship currently, it’s important that you still have a good relationship. It’s perfectly normal to go through a dry spell, but this shouldn’t be a permanent change and your partner should want to work on this as much as you do. Consider scheduling sex, or even scheduling quality time together to help improve intimacy. 

It’s always a good idea to speak to your close friends for support in this. Everyone is different, and although I can generalize, I can’t speak for your partner specifically. A close friend of yours will have a better understanding of your relationship and should hopefully offer you some advice that is better suited to you and your partner. 

How Long Is Too Long Without Sex in a Relationship?

I really wish I could tell you the answer to how much sex you should be having, but no one can. 

It really depends on you and your relationship. One person might say that you should have sex once a day, someone else might say once a week or even once a month. If it feels like too long for you, then it’s too long. 

Generally speaking I would say that at least once a week is a good guideline. You want to make sure that you’re allowing yourself the time to be sexually intimate with your partner; quality alone time is key to having a good sex life. 

If you have kids, or opposite schedules and just find that life is getting in the way, then think about what changes you could make to work on your relationship with your partner. I always say that you should aim for a date night at least once a week, and a good date night will typically end with good sex. 

Likewise, you want to make sure that you’re having good sex! If you’re having underwhelming sex once a day, then it’s still not going to feel like enough. 

Number one priority is making sure that you both orgasm; you both want to feel sexually satisfied! If you don’t typically orgasm from penetrative sex, allow yourself the time for clitoral stimulation or even take your time with foreplay.

It’s completely normal to have less sex the longer that you’re together. During the honeymoon phase, you’re most likely going to be at it non-stop; it’s always exciting when you start dating and realistically speaking you’re going to rely on sexual intimacy in the early stages of a relationship as you won’t yet have developed a strong emotional connection together. 

You should never compare your current sex life to the beginning of your relationship, as it’s slightly unrealistic. You need to find a good healthy balance, where you’re both sexually satisfied but you’re also happy in other areas of your life too. 

Sex doesn’t automatically improve relationship quality, if you’re not having a lot of sex, work on other areas of your relationship.

Overall relationship satisfaction is key. Sexual satisfaction contributes towards this, but so does quality alone time, communication, general affection and intimacy outside of the bedroom. If you feel as though you’ve gone too long without sex, I encourage you to speak to your partner and to work together to dedicate more time to your sex life.  

FAQs

How long without sex is unhealthy in a relationship?

It really does depend on the relationship. I once spoke to a woman who was really unhappy after it had been two weeks without sex, personally I’ve experienced a little longer. Not only does it depend on each person, but it also depends on your relationship and whether or not you’re still intimate in other ways.

If you typically have sex every day, then it’s completely understandable that you’d feel concerned after a week. However if you don’t often find the time for sex then your limits would naturally be a little longer. 

As long as you communicate your sexual needs to your partner, and develop an understanding of how to sexually satisfy each other within a good time frame, then you shouldn’t need to worry. 

As far as ‘unhealthy’ goes. There are many health benefits to having regular sex, but you can also get these benefits through masturbation. However, sexual intimacy is important to keep the romance alive in a relationship; find a good balance with your partner and both agree to commit to allowing yourselves dedicated time to your sex lives.

What happens if you don't have sex for a long time?

If you go a long time without sex you might feel a lack of romance in your relationship. Intimacy is key to keeping the spark alive. You may find that you begin to feel underwhelmed and unrecognized in the relationship if you go without sex for a long time. It can also have a negative effect on your mental health and your confidence. 

This is why it’s so important to communicate your sexual needs to your partner; you don’t want to be left feeling as though you need to look elsewhere for sexual satisfaction and ultimately, you want the best for your relationship. 

Does lack of sex cause anger?

Sex (and masturbation) induces a release of mind-altering chemicals (dopamine, endorphins and oxytocin). These chemicals can boost your mood, and help to relieve stress and anxiety. Naturally, if you go a long time without sex, you may find that you and your partner will be fighting more than usual. 

This is why it’s super important that you’re intimate with each other; communication is key to increasing intimacy. 

Conclusion

Going a long time without sex doesn’t always need to be a bad thing, it can be seen as an opportunity to help to reignite the spark in your relationship. 

It’s totally normal to experience dry spells. Rather than looking at this negatively, see what steps you can take to work on your relationship. It’s healthy to go through bad patches, because in most cases you come out of the other side much better off for it. 

It’s really easy to become complacent in a relationship, and your sex life is typically the first thing to be impacted (whether it’s lack of sex or quality of sex). Communicate with your partner, schedule quality alone time and really take the time to understand each other’s needs. You can also use this as an opportunity to really focus on your sexual relationship with yourself. 

Whether you’re having sex 2 times a day or 2 times a month, you should always give yourself alone time to explore yourself sexually and to really focus on your own pleasure. Only then can you truly work on your sexual relationship with your partner. 

Please feel free to share with a friend in need.

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