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When sex matters

Last updated on: December 15, 2010 13:12 IST

When sex matters

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Just why is sex so crucial to longterm romantic relationships? Here is the answer.

A strong sexual connection can be a very powerful tool to help initiate and sustain a strong, committed relationship. This raises the obvious question: why is it that sex matters so much? In one word, the answer is 'intimacy', but there is more.

The importance of sex

While there is possibly no other way for a man and woman to become physically more intimate, sex serves as more than just a source of physical pleasure. The intense emotional closeness that comes with sex plays an equally important role in sustaining a relationship.

Helen Fisher, PhD, at Rutgers University encourages couples to have frequent sex. She says, "Couples trigger sex drive, romance, and attachment -- along with their attendant hormones, testosterone, dopamine, and oxytocin -- with regular sexual activity."

In fact, partners who are able to please each other sexually are more likely to keep the warmth and closeness alive in their relationship. This is equally true of new as well as long-standing relationships. Couples who have been together for several years attest to the fact that external stress due to money, work, and family as well as internal stress due to the demands partners place on each other can strain the relationship.

In the words of author Judith Kurlansky, 'Good sex smoothes the rough edges that all the stresses leave.' Couples who have sex regularly are, in fact, able to keep lines of communication open and smooth out differences that can lead to a build-up of anger and resentment. Additionally, sex is known to have several health benefits. Sex can relieve minor pain, boost the immune system, improve physical fitness and improve mental health. It seems having sex is a win-win situation!


Image: The intense emotional closeness that comes with sex plays an equally important role in sustaining a relationship
Photographs: Courtesy Bolohealth.com
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New relationship?

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Initiating sex in a new relationship can be hard. Not everyone is comfortable baring his or her body in the bedroom and levels of sexual confidence can vary from individual to individual.

While a little anxiety may help to improve sexual performance, incessant worrying can dampen a sexual relationship before it even begins. As such, it is important for partners to allay each other's fears and take the pressure off the 'performance'. This, along with being forthright about what pleases you can help you successfully kick-start sex in a new relationship.


Image: Initiating sex in a new relationship can be hard
Photographs: Bryan Brenneman of Sheridan, OR, USA
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When you don't have sex

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Sex is very important, especially when you are in a committed relationship and dependent only on each other to satisfy sexual needs. But it can get particularly difficult to sustain a healthy sexual relationship over the long run.

Every relationship goes through ups and downs when it comes to sexual fervour. Since sex is often treated as a way to emotionally connect with your partner, it is important not to ignore one's sex life. One way to keep the passion alive is to schedule 'couple' time. Go on a date, take up a hobby together, woo each other again and try new ways to have sex, or just connect with each other every day by sharing a laugh or giving a hug. Remember that the act of sex is not restricted to intercourse. Touching, kissing, holding hands, or rubbing your partner's neck also counts.

Sexual conditions such as impotence or a decreased libido can also contribute to lack of sex. If you suspect that stress or some medical problem may be the underlying cause of a sexual dry spell, see a doctor who can help. A sex therapist can also provide you with suggestions to liven up your sex life.


Image: Touching, kissing, holding hands, or rubbing your partner's neck also counts
Photographs: Moni Sertel, Deutschland/Wikimedia Commons
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How to improve your sex life

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Before you rush to a therapist, there are some things you can do to spice up your sex life. Set aside time to have sex. Change your location or your position. Book a hotel room. If you're used to a missionary position, experiment with something different. Create a romantic atmosphere. Try out each other's sexual fantasies. Exercise! It has been shown to up your libido. Try to introduce variation during foreplay. Turn away from your tried and tested moves and surprise your partner. Remember, keeping your sex life steamy, especially after spending years together, takes effort. So instead of giving up, just keep trying!

The sexual act has a number of physical and psychological benefits for both men and women. Working towards pleasuring each other and re-igniting passion can help to sustain a relationship through normal highs and lows. Finally, if you are not able to sustain your sexual chemistry, do not hesitate to consult a sex therapist.


Image: Remember, keeping your sex life steamy, especially after spending years together, takes effort
Photographs: Courtesy Bolohealth.com
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