This is what counts as a sexless relationship, according to a therapist

There’s an enduring obsession that society has with quantifying sex.

Whether a couple is deemed to be having ‘too much’ or ‘too little’, there’s always another magic number to aim for or a dreaded, sexless number to fear.

But as Match’s dating expert Hayley Quinn tells us, there’s no one-size-fits-all for the amount of times people should be having sex with their partner.

‘Some people consider a relationship sexless if they haven’t been intimate with their partner for the past month,’ she says, ‘whereas for others it can be when one partner explicitly tells the other they no longer want to have sex with them.

‘Before judging any type of relationship, it’s important to remember that there are lots of reasons why one, or both partners, may no longer want sex within their relationship.

‘From health issues, to older age, to a loss of desire, to identifying as asexual, or recognising they have a different sexuality.’

There’s also just the grind of life at play with ‘ruts’ and ‘dry spells’ for couples in long-term relationships – over anything from a new baby to work stress – ‘incredibly common’.

As for what the science says, it seems there’s technically an optimum amount of times per week for people to do it – but whether that’s right for you is another thing.

A 2015 study from York University, which had over 30,000 participants, found people’s happiness levels associated with sex plateaued when they did it once a week.

Researchers from the University of Toronto Mississauga have also concurred – having sex around once a week is the ‘sweet spot’ for happiness.

Any more than that doesn’t really have any more of an impact, based on data collected from 25,510 Americans aged 18 to 89.

With that being said, don’t let yourself feel pressure to do it once every seven days – after all, that stress will probably defeat the purpose of doing it in the first place.

If you’re worried you’re not having enough sex, or that your relationship might be verging on sexless, Hayley says: ‘Before hitting the panic button, consider if this is just a “dip” – AKA short-term.

‘If one partner is very stressed they may be physically withdrawing from the relationship, which can make their partner feel insecure and crave affection more. To get out of this cycle, and build the happy, committed relationship you want, you’ll need to reach a compromise.

‘That might mean putting your needs on the back burner for a period of time, as you recognise that your partner has issues unrelated to you to work through.’

If your partner is a bit of a closed book on the subject, you might think about giving couples therapy a try.

‘Or’, Hayley adds: ‘it may be about working together to find a middle ground – that might not (at least for now) be a passionate sex life, but it could be a regular good morning massage or a cuddle on the sofa.

‘Over the course of a long-term relationship, it’s almost inevitable that you’ll have moments of reduced desire – which is a common reality in relationships, but with a continued commitment to one another, you will be able to work through them.’

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