how long is too long without sex in a relationship

How Long Is Too Long Without Sex In a Relationship?

How long is too long without sex in a relationship? Fortunately and unfortunately, there is no exact or right answer to this question. For most, if you’re here seeking an answer, you likely know some level of confusion, frustration, hurt, or even lowered self confidence in your intimate relationship.  That’s the bad news. 

The good news is that asking the question matters. It’s the beginning of a change. 

You’ll find that there are much more effective questions to ask yourself. You’ll also discover specific ways to evaluate whether your relationship truly has a sex or intimacy issue, or if you’re just passing through a natural phase in your relationship. 

How long is too long without sex depends on a variety of factors including how long you’ve been in the relationship, health factors, unresolved relationship issues, age, life circumstances, and stress, just to name a few. 

Additionally, some who ask this question may discover that they hold unrealistic, and even unfair, expectations that actually make the situation worse. Much worse. 

While you’ll likely find hope and possibility here, let’s start off with some hard truth. If your strategy has been to try to convince your partner why they should want more sex or have unconsciously guilted them because your needs aren’t being met, your attempts to have more sex have likely backfired. 

So, let’s unpack this all too common question, how long is too long to go without sex in a relationship so you understand the deeper circumstances that may be at play. More importantly, let’s get crystal clear on what specifically you can do to change the situation. 

To begin with, we need to split our original question into two, depending on how long you’ve been together. We need to consider how long is too long without sex in a new relationship separately from how long is too long for a married couple to go without sex, because the answers will definitely differ. Regardless of which situation you find yourself in, you’ll likely benefit from reading both sections here.

How long is too long without sex in a new relationship?

Even the term new has a subjective aspect to it. For our purposes here, let’s consider a new relationship as one where you have committed to officially being in a relationship but are not married. 

For any new couple, sexual desire often runs higher than usual, but not always. You may want sex with each other “all the time” in a new relationship or you may start off slowly where you want fewer interactions that have a deeper depth of intimacy and connection. As a new couple, you might have sex less frequently but for longer, more profound times, especially if either of you desires sacred sexuality or practices tantric sexuality.

Your schedules might have much more to do with the lack of sexual intimacy in a new relationship than anything else. 

As you can see already, there are no clear answers to the question how long is too long without sex, and we’re just getting started in our explorations. 

For those new relationships where either or both people are divorced with families, they may have responsibilities for children and hold more professional demands. Then, no matter how attracted to and excited they are about each other, their bodies and lives may not avail the same level of passion.

Additionally, many people, whether male or female, may not have the same innate sexual desire they did in their early childbearing years of their twenties. Yes, whether we like it or not, sexual desire does correlate, at least on some level, with our ability to produce children. Therefore we must consider life circumstances as we explore the question how long is too long without sex in a new relationship. 

Not having a high desire in a new relationship doesn’t necessarily mean there is anything wrong

Not having a high desire does not necessarily mean there is anything wrong with the sexual attraction between you. With that being said, you do want to talk to each other honestly about your level of physical attraction to each other. No, it’s not always easy to have that conversation, especially if either of you aren’t strongly attracted to the other, but wouldn’t you want to know that upfront? If you’re not having sex frequently in a new relationship because one of you isn’t truly attracted to the other, that’s a problem for both of you. 

Have the hard conversations upfront so you save yourself, and each other, unnecessary emotional turmoil. If this lower attraction does show up in your new relationship, consider some of the questions below that may help you resolve the attraction issues, as well as the sexual issues, without having to end the relationship.  

New relationships find a natural rhythm

As a new relationship develops, when you share genuine attraction, most couples will find a rhythm to their physical intimacy. Patterns will start to reveal themselves. For most new couples in the early weeks of their relationship, because they do not live together, their sexual intimacy may align with when they have dates and can spend prolonged time together. For some, sex could happen on most dates no matter the day of the week. Or it might be that even new couples save lovemaking for the weekend. It could also be normal that some, in new relationships, have sex multiple times a day, while others might prefer a day or two a week. The frequency matters less than the desire and the intent. 

So when considering how long is too long without sex in a new relationship, you want to pay close attention to three things.

  1. Is there a genuine and natural attraction between the two of you?
  2. What does each person desire sexually, naturally under the best of circumstances?
  3. Are there any life circumstances preventing either of you from having what you desire?

Then, talk, talk, talk. If you don’t know how to talk about sex, learn. The sustainability of not only your sexual passion, but your whole relationship depends on it. 

When it comes to how long without sex is too long, you’ll want to stay present and aware as your relationship unfolds. When you find significant deviations from your establishing rhythms, pay attention.  An issue, or more than one, may have arisen and you’ll want to address that sooner rather than later. Because when an underlying issue is at play, a short time without sex in a new relationship can matter. 

How long is too long for a married couple to go without sex?

For married couples, the question gets more complicated. It goes without saying that as couples become engaged, move in together, get married, have children, grow careers, become empty nesters, retire, have illnesses, pursue dreams and passions, their sexual dynamics will ebb and flow with life. Every couple goes through this and they can sustain their relationship even through dry spells.

The key is to clearly understand the difference between a natural dry spell and too long without sex in a marriage.

Similar to those in a new relationship, anytime your sexual activity varies significantly from your past experiences together for more than a couple weeks, you’ll want to do some exploring personally and together. When you have potentially gone too long without sex in a marriage, the topic and situation may seem easier (aka more comfortable) to ignore. Unfortunately, you’ll both likely regret that choice later.

The sooner you discover what has caused the disconnection between you and your partner, the sooner you can move to resolve it. And, the easier it will be to address the issue(s). It’s well known that, due to the uncomfortable nature of relationship and sexual issues, couples wait much too long to get the support they need. 

You are encouraged not to wait.

Let’s also be realistic. If you’re asking how long is too long for a married couple to go without sex, there’s a good chance something could be off in your relationship. Let’s consider some specific reasons it may or may not be a problem.

Questions to ask yourself if it’s been awhile since you had sex

If you’ve realized that the answer to the question, “how long is too long without sex in a relationship” might be yes. You’ll want to ask yourself the following questions so that you can identify the underlying cause and what you can do about it. And, no, trying to get your partner to change or fix their “problem” will not work. All relationship dynamics take two to create and your best solutions start with you, not your partner. 

  1. Do you tend to have sex or make love? Understanding the difference between making love and having sex matters.
  2. Are you the one initiating or the one being asked to initiate? Consider from a masculine-feminine energy perspective whether you desire to pursue or be pursued. If the energies are reversed, desire will suffer.
  3. Do you feel desirable? Do you feel attractive? If either of you is struggling with feeling desirable, it’s easy to blame our partner for that feeling. Yet, our desirability always has to come from within. 
  4. Do you or your partner have body image issues?  Are they new? These can affect sexual dynamics and they can also be resolved.  
  5. How healthy are both you and your partner feeling? 
  6. Are either of you significantly stressed? If the stress resolves in a reasonable amount of time, it’s not a problem that you have sex less frequently, but if that stress chronically impacts your physical intimacy over the long term, you’ll want to address it. 
  7. What have you done for your partner lately? If your partner’s needs aren’t being met outside the bedroom, things will not go well in the bedroom either. Think of cherished, valued, respected, and admired as needs here. 
  8. Do you have polarity in your relationship? Is it authentic or reversed? Today’s couples often have sexual polarity neutralized or reversed. Either scenario can lead to fading sexual desire. 
  9. Do you hold resentments? Does your partner? Resentment completely destroys desire. And, it eventually dissolves relationships too.
  10. How well do the two of you handle conflict? Ignored relationship issues and unresolved upsets kill sexual desire, especially for the feminine. Shockingly, this can be one of the most frequent non-sex related reasons that any relationship – new or longstanding – goes too long without sex.
  11. How much romance does your sex life have? Routine, practical, regular sex, only goes so far. You need variety to maintain sexual passion – in the short and long term. 
  12. Has sex become a chore for either of you?
  13. Are there other intimacy issues?  There are many types of intimacy in a romantic relationship and if any of them are off, sexual intimacy can suffer. 
  14. Do you expect your partner to fulfill your sexual needs? This shows up all too often in committed monogamous relationships. Many believe that if you commit to a partner then you should have sex with them. This is one of the biggest killers of sexual desire, especially for feminine beings. Obligation is not sexy. If you think your partner should have sex with you at the frequency you desire, it is suggested that you more deeply explore the needs of your partner. These vary greatly between predominantly masculine and feminine energy beings. 
  15. What constitutes sex for you? Many people will avoid any kind of sexual connection because they imagine that if they allow even a prolonged kiss, they’ll be expected to have intercourse. If you always expect your physical connections to lead to intercourse, you’ll be having a lot less sex. 

Finally, unrealistic expectations in a relationship affect all aspects of a connection. Everything that happens – or doesn’t happen – in a relationship impacts what happens sexually. Again, most sex problems have little to do with sex and everything to do with our skill as a partner. 

What to do when you’ve gone too long without sex in a relationship 

While asking, how long is too long without sex in a relationship served the purpose of getting you to explore possibilities and solutions in your relationship. Now you want to authentically ask yourself these much more effective questions. Then, after you’ve answered these questions for yourself and you’ve given up blaming your partner for your less frequent sex, then and only then, do you want to start talking to your partner about these questions. 

When there is no blame, but real love and genuine curiosity, accompanied by the willingness to listen to answers we may not want to hear, you can start to change your intimate dynamics. 

Remember, as we’ve said, whether you are in a new relationship or a decades long marriage, when it comes to how long is too long without sex in a relationship, you want to pay attention to changes in frequency of sexual connection. Then recognize that it’s normal, due to the flow of life circumstances, to experience periods of less regular lovemaking. It’s when these shorter dry spells turn into months or years, that, for the sake of your relationship, you’ll want to attend to, sooner rather than later. Choose to lovingly care for the challenges blocking your sexuality – whether in yourself, your partner, or in the dynamics between you. And, if you need help to do that, may you have the courage to get it. 

Since 2006, highly conscious men and women, with a commitment to extraordinary relationships, have chosen Ecstatic Intimacy to find and cultivate Soul Partnerships from their bedrooms to their boardrooms. Ecstatic Intimacy believes in coveted relationships, for all. 

You too, are invited…

*At Ecstatic Intimacy, an all-inclusive website for singles and couples, we welcome all sexual orientation(s), gender(s) and relationship expressions. In this article we utilize the pronouns he/she/him/her.

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