Sex, Intimacy, and Friendship: Keys to a Healthy Romance
We often use intimacy as a euphemism for sex, but it has its own definition. It can mean harmony, closeness, friendship, familiarity, trust, privacy, relaxation. For many people, those words – and the interactions they foster – are necessary before sex can happen. So before intensely researching how to last longer in bed, look into creating intimacy with your partner. It could benefit your sex life far more than tantra tutorials.
We’re generally living longer, and gender roles are shifting, so marriage and monogamy are no longer the norms. Instead, people with consensual, non-monogamous partners are recording higher levels of sexual satisfaction. This study was undertaken by Conley, Piemonte, Gusakova, & Rubin, and it saw no difference in relationship satisfaction – just in the sexual happiness of study subjects.
Sex vs romance
Regarding (romantic) relationships, researchers Thompson, Bagley, & Moore asked college-age participants what their views were. This type of study often uses leading questions that inadvertently shape answers. So instead of asking them to tick boxes and give yes/no answers, they were given nuanced questions that gauged their attitudes. The bulk of study participants expressed a preference for monogamy.
The conclusion isn’t that monogamous or polyamorous couples are happier. It’s that people are happiest when they’re in the type of relationship they want, whether that involves a single long-term partner or multiple casual encounters. And because our sexual relationships spill over, someone with a fulfilling sex life is likely to have a brighter outlook in other areas, whether it’s their job, family interactions, or self-esteem.
That said, even monogamous couples that enjoy a friendly bond, companionable affection, trust, and intimacy … even this kind of couple can struggle with ‘ordinary’ problems, like early ejaculation or sexual boredom. This doesn’t mean they have to step out. Instead, they can try new things as a couple. They don’t necessarily have to be sexual things. Any joint activity – even outside the bedroom – fosters bonding that can translate into a re-energised sex life. Be open to trying things your partner enjoys – you never know you might like it too.
Mix it up
Experimentation should always be consensual. Ensure your partner is genuinely okay with it and isn’t feeling forced to please you. This could cause resentment that will definitely mess with your sex life. It’s also important to talk about sex, and not just when you’re in bed. Tell each other your sexual wants, needs, fantasies, and desires, then compromise on the type and regularity of sex that keeps you both happy. This sense of trust and acceptance doesn’t always exist in casual encounters, but it’s essential if couples are going for the long game.
Friendship creates a space for these kinds of discussions with your partner, and it makes your sex life better. Also, remember that co-dependent couples aren’t the healthiest kind, so have other friends in addition to your partner.