Why sex matters so much in a relationship – and can cause so many problems

Why sex matters in a relationship

From a certain age onwards, sex is a major part of most people’s lives. It can give us so much joy – but also seems to cause so much trouble.

Why is that? Why can sex seem to have so much power over us and be so important?

Perhaps to understand the answer to this, the first thing is to consider why we want to have sex and what benefits it gives us. These are emotional, spiritual, and physical in their nature.

Physical benefits of sex

There are undoubtedly physical reasons why people want to have sex. After all, it is how we are designed: to ensure the human race continues.

So sex gives us pleasurable physical feelings. Nothing else gives us these same sorts of physical feelings. They are innate and there to encourage us to want to have sex.

There are also some other positive physical reasons, many of which are the same as from doing any physical exercise. These are:

  • Improves immune system
  • Gives natural pain relief 
  • Improves heart health and reduces heart disease and stroke risk
  • Strengthens muscles 
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Burns calories
  • Helps us sleep better

Emotional & spiritual side of sex

There is also an emotional and spiritual drive for and reasons to have sex. One thing is that it releases our happiness hormones, and this increases our bond with someone.

Sex boosts intimacy between people – because it is as intimate as it gets. To be naked as we mostly are during sex is a vulnerable act of trust in another person.

Sex is a very spiritual act too. It is two people becoming one with each other.

It is a way of showing love and affection for another person. It is literally a part of “making love” – as in creating and making love grow.

It boosts security in a relationship. It shows a strong commitment to each other.

A healthy sex life shows that partners are in tune with each other. It is that their communication is good and/or that compromise, as is needed in many ways in all relationships, is positive.

It is also a great way of relieving stress. This is to do with hormones that are released during sex and particularly at climax.

But it is also because it is something that stops us from thinking and worrying about anything else. We are, naturally, in the moment. It is an escape.

For this reason, sex is sometimes called “la petite mort” in France – meaning “the little death”. This is because we lose ourselves so much during sex it is as though the ego has died. Again, this is why sex is a very spiritual thing.

Why does sex cause so much trouble?

Why does sex cause so much trouble

There are some obvious reasons why sex causes so many problems. One of these is that many people have sex on a casual basis.

This can be fine and fun but undoubtedly does cause trouble as sometimes one person might think there was more to the joining together than another.  It can lead to inner turmoil for one person if they regret having sex, sometimes when their inhibitions are down such as happens after drinking too much or using drugs, especially excessively.

Them sex, of course, can make babies. This can cause a problem if one partner doesn’t want a baby and the other does. Sometimes in long-term relationships sex lives will suffer as a consequence.

Similarly, it can be that one partner might want sex while the other doesn’t want it. It could be that one partner has a low sex drive for various reasons – and these can be psychological and/or physical.

Psychological reasons can be due to past experiences, including sexual abuse. Physical reasons could be pain that arises during sex or not being able to physically function in some way, something that can happen as part of the aging process.

If we use sex selfishly it becomes a problem, and lots of people do of course. They will put self-centered demands on another.

Or one partner might use sex in a reward or punish manner. This is always likely to lead to big problems.

Some people also want to have sex in an attempt to boost their self-esteem. They feel much more valuable, loved even if they are having sex.

So it’s for insecurity and low self-esteem reasons. It can cause trouble then if they are not having sex or not having it as much as they want.

This can also lead to sex addiction as a way to seek love and approval. It is something often connected to childhood experiences of not having essential needs met by parents and/or caregivers that leaves someone feeling unlovable. Frequently it’s connected with another behavioral addiction – relationship addiction.

If sex drives are mismatched it can lead to one partner feeling extremely frustrated and perhaps getting angry. If it has been spoken about, but one partner doesn’t appear to be playing their part in compromise, it can lead to huge resentment and sometimes be one thing behind depression. It can also sometimes be a sign of codependency.

This can also of course lead to one partner cheating on the other, justifying it this way – and with all the major trouble that can cause. This is not just to the relationship, but also if this affair is a secret it can tear apart the person who is cheating as they lie and live a deceitful life. If the couple has children, this can all be even devastating and problematic.

For most people, sex is hugely important. Everybody is different of course, but for most of us, it’s vitally important that we have healthy sex lives.

Our expert Tikvah Lake team has helped people for decades with all emotional disorders and mental health problems. Call us today to discuss how we could help you or someone you know.

David Hurst - Tikvah Lake Recovery

About David Hurst

David Hurst has four books published on mental health recovery, including 12 Steps To 1 Hero, The Anxiety Conversation and Words To Change Your Life. He has written for national newspapers and magazines around the world for 30 years including The Guardian, Psychologies, GQ, Esquire, Marie Claire and The Times. He has been in successful continual recovery since January 2002.

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