Sex: Is bad sex a “legitimate reason” to end a relationship?

Recently I came across an article asking readers two questions regarding lack of sex or bad sex in connection with ending a relationship or marriage. Like most authors that write on this subject this one surmised that "bad sex" was not enough of a reason to end a marriage. Despite the numerous books written and workshops dedicated to helping couples find ways to bring back passion into their relationships there remains a large group of "experts" who insist on downplaying the significance of sexual compatibility in relationships and marriages.

Some folks go as far as to "belittle" an individual for suggesting sex is a major key to having a happy relationship. As I have often said there is no "right" or "wrong". There is only "agree" or "disagree". Everyone is looking for someone that "agrees" with him or her on things they consider to be important.

Below you will find my response to the two questions that were asked.

Do you think bad sex is a “legitimate reason” to end a relationship?

First of all it’s important we understand that each of us gets to set our own “deal breakers”. Personally speaking I do believe a lack of physical intimacy or alienation is a legitimate reason to walk away. Ending a relationship over sexual incompatibility beats cheating any day!!!

Do you feel that it's more than just good sex that keeps couples together?

Of course it takes more than good sex to keep a relationship together but if a 4-legged chair is only missing 1 leg you still can’t sit in it.

If someone is hungry and they have no food in their home they aren’t going to stay “home” and cry themselves to sleep. If they have the means they’ll go to the store or a restaurant.

The underlying spirit of a “monogamous relationship” or marriage is the belief that one is “forsaking all others” because they have someone “committed” to fulfilling their sexual needs. A relationship without sex is pretty much a great “friendship” and a marriage without sex is little more than being “roommates with the same last name”

Sexual desire is (one of the key differentiators) that distinguish relationship love from paternal, sibling, and friendship love. Life is a “personal journey” and each of us is responsible for our own happiness.

If you are not getting what you want in your relationship then it’s up to YOU to decide if it’s a “deal breaker”. Don’t ever let anyone else tell you what to put up with. It’s your life! Take the wheel!

Don’t confuse “communication” with “action”

Communication is not an “Ask and it shall be given” proposition. It’s simply expressing an idea and having the other person acknowledge they understood what you said. Just because you don’t get what you want afterwards does not mean there is a “communication problem”. You’re just with someone who has different priorities. Ultimately we are all in search of someone who wants what we want.

The reason we enter into relationships/marriages is because we believe we have found “the one”.

People love to put the onus on the "unhappy person" to (fix a problem with communication). Why doesn’t the person who is “happy or content” (announce/communicate) to their mate they intend to stop having sex or plan to put in a halfhearted effort? Making a major change in any relationship should come with some type of notification.

Usually when someone is not doing something they are fully aware that they’re not doing it! They were just hoping you would not have the courage to bring it up or complain about it. Very rarely is what you have to communicate a “newsflash”! It’s just as important for the person who has decided not to do something to communicate their decision instead of hoping they can get away with a “bait and switch” once their mate is emotionally invested in the relationship. It’s not uncommon to hear someone say, “He/She is not the same person I fell in love with.”

I cannot think of any other scenario where people actually believe if you stop doing something things will remain the same. We know if we stop going to work we are bound to lose our job. If we stop exercising we will gain weight. If we stop paying our mortgage we will lose our house….etc Every action or none action has a consequence. The same holds true when it comes to having bad or no sex in a marriage or relationship.

We’d all do better to remember the lyrics of the old Impressions song, “The same thing it took to get your baby is the same thing it’s going to take to keep them.”

“While we are free to choose our actions, we are not free to choose the consequences of our actions” – Stephen R. Covey

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Comments 24 comments

SpiffyD profile image

SpiffyD 5 years ago from The Caribbean

Loved this hub. It raised an issue that is usually swept under the carpet. I read it from top to bottom. The only thing I would suggest is to use the Amazon ads to break up the text.


dashingscorpio profile image

dashingscorpio 5 years ago Author

SpiffyD, Thanks for stopping by and leaving your comment!

You are probably right I should consider breaking up my hubs. I've nevr done it before. It may make it easier for the reader if it appears less daunting! ha ha ha (I've been working on a book. Bad habit I suppose)

Thanks again!


Ashantina profile image

Ashantina 5 years ago

Agree. The key word though is compatability, if you're having bad sex with a partner, then it is a symptom of incompatibility or lack of true chemistry.

Sex is not 'the' major thing in a relationship, but it sits equally along with trust, communication, respect. It is an element which contributes to the whole. And as someone analogised above, if you've got a 3-legged chair, sure you'll sit on it for a little while, but then it will have to get fixed or you buy another one :)

Interesting read. Up


dashingscorpio profile image

dashingscorpio 5 years ago Author

Ashantina, You are so right!

Compatibility is very important.

I’m always writing in my hubs that opposites may attract in the short run but in the end “like attracts like” for the long run. The mistake a lot of people make is falling madly in love during the “infatuation” phase of the relationship. (Most people are usually passionate/romantic during that period). It’s not until after a year or 18 months goes by that we learn what their “natural” level of passion is. Unfortunately a lot of folks aren’t willing to invest that much time into a relationship before moving in together, getting engaged, or even married. Thanks again for your comment and the vote up !:-)


Pamela N Red profile image

Pamela N Red 5 years ago from Oklahoma

Great article, Dashing. I will add that some couples after years of marriage will have a slow down for medical reasons.

A couple may have a great sex life in the beginning of their marriage being very compatible but later on the Mr. has heart or blood pressure issues requiring libido or erection altering medications. He doesn't always realize his libido has changed.

Communication is the key to a successful relationship. Sexual love isn't the only kind and sometimes simply hugging, cuddling and kissing keeps the couple happy.

A man who is a good husband and father in all ways but that one should not be discarded.


dashingscorpio profile image

dashingscorpio 5 years ago Author

Pamela N Red, Thanks for your comment!

I agree sometimes there are medical problems that can change a person's sexual desire and performance.

As for should a man be discarded who is a good husband and father....etc I believe each of us has a right to have our own "deal breakers" just as we have our own criteria as to what make a great mate for us. Over the years I've come to realize "Life is a Personal Journey". Each of us is entitled to make our own choices.

There really is no "right" or "wrong" per se. (There is only what is right for YOU or wrong for YOU.) Ultimately we are all looking for someone who "naturally agrees" with us. One man's opinion! :-)


showuright profile image

showuright 5 years ago from Southeast

Great article- definitely some food for thought.

I don't necessarily believe in bad sex, but rather a bad connection. All sex starts in the mind first with attraction. Most of the time if you are really connected with someone, just for that reason alone the sex is great. If you believe they really are a bad lover, you can always teach them as well. Usually bad sex is triggered by something deeper.


dashingscorpio profile image

dashingscorpio 5 years ago Author

showuright, You make some valid points in your comment. However I do believe there are couples out there who date for awhile and become emotionally invested months before having sex. The big night comes and a discovery is made a guy with (size issue, no foreplay ED, premature) or a woman that is (motionless, dry, or extremely insatiable). You are right that couples can work on this but in reality very people "change permanently" to please their mates.


Trying to do the right thing..... 4 years ago

I have been married for a long time but sexual relations within my marriage have always been a source of trouble for my marriage. As stated by dashing, we were emotionally and spiritually involved before we became physically involved. To be honest we didn't experience sexual intimacy until "after" we were married. To my disappointment my wedding night was very disappointing. Things were better at times during the children years off and on but now we are empty nesters it is obvious how sexually unsatisfied I am. He has been a wonderful husband to me and a great friend, but I have always been a very passionate woman and that never changed. He has never learned to satisfy my sexual needs. Some people just don't get it. It's like anything some people are better lovers than others and although we have been wonderful partners otherwise, our intimate relationship has been very unsuccessful and he has tried. For this reason I have never been truly happy in my marriage. Awhile back because of my husbands lackings I opened my heart and fell in love with a close friend. I have never acted on this love but I am unhappy and very torn. I have tried to forget him but the way I feel seems to get deeper. What advice would you give a friend of yours in a simular situation?


dashingscorpio profile image

dashingscorpio 4 years ago Author

Trying to do the right thing...

Thanks for your comment and being so candid about your situation. I'm certain you are not alone.

Ordinarily my natural inclination is to say, “If you want something different YOU have to do something different” or mention there are two groups of people in this world, “Those who get what they want and those who take what they can get.” However I do understand how difficult it is to contemplate walking away from an otherwise successful union.

There really are only 3 options and no one can tell you which one to choose. Sometimes we don’t know what we really want until we are placed in a situation to say “yes” or “no”. 1. Cheat (most people who cheat do so because they want to hold onto what is good in their primary relationship while addressing other needs on the side). 2. Accept things as they are. (This is after you’ve tried talking, initiating, suggesting…etc) and come to realization that what you have is the best it’s ever going to be. 3. Walk away. (In order to come to this conclusion one must truly consider their circumstance to be a “deal breaker”.

I suspect very few people consider “bad sex” or being in a “sexless marriage” a “deal breaker”. They’re likely to address the issue with an affair or suffer in silence with the use of toys and adult websites….etc No one can tell you what is “right” for you. When it’s all said and done, “Life is a personal journey”. Each of us is responsible for our own happiness. At some point we have to let go of anger and frustration at our mates. It becomes not so much about what "they" aren’t doing for us and more about (“Why are we choosing to stay with someone who can’t or won’t give us what we need.?”) That’s a tough question to ask yourself and an even tougher one to answer.


davenstan profile image

davenstan 4 years ago

I agree with the communication part. Asking for it doesn't constitute receiving. It's just asking. I have had this discussion before. I believe if there is a lack in one area then there is bound to be a lack in this major area of the relationship. Voted up and useful!


dashingscorpio profile image

dashingscorpio 4 years ago Author

davenstan, Thanks for stopping by and leaving your comment. Unfortunately too many people confuse a lack of (action) with having a "communication problem". Being heard and understood is all there is to communication.

I completely agree with you that odds are high there are other problems in these types of relationships. Usually there is a lack of intimacy (outside of the bedroom) as well...(No flirting/sexual innenuendo with one another, no hand holding, wet kisses, hugs, spooning while watching TV, taking showers together, or heart to heart conversations, looking forward to future getaway plans.) The absence of these things are usually a precursor to a sexless relationship/marriage.


wisdom25 profile image

wisdom25 4 years ago from San Tan Valley

I have to say that is one compelling article. You gave me another perspective on marriage and you really had me thinking. Much Love and Respect.


dashingscorpio profile image

dashingscorpio 4 years ago Author

wisdom25, Thanks for stopping by and posting a comment.

I suppose when it's all said and done each individual has to determine their own "deal breakers" in relationships. :-)


savvydating profile image

savvydating 3 years ago

You made an excellent point about "deal breakers." If someone does have a mid to high libido, and at least some skill in lovemaking, there is no way they can be happy with someone who doesn't have either of those things. Best to end things (very) early. On the other hand, age or illness can change one's sexual appetite, in which case, patience is required, and expectations may have to be lowered or put on hold temporarily - out of respect for the union, provided a couple has otherwise had a successful marriage, especially in the area of intimacy. But make no mistake, lack of sexual intimacy (except in the case of a temporary illness) is a devastating problem, and is cause for great unhappiness. I would not stay.


dashingscorpio profile image

dashingscorpio 3 years ago Author

savvydating, I appreciate you stopping by and posting your comment. Too often people that value sex in relationships and marriages are made out to be shallow. As I like to remind people there really is no "right" or "wrong" there is only agree and disagree.

What causes difficulty in the libido equation in most relationships is both people usually start off on fire in the beginning. It's not until several months down the road and usually after there has been an emotional investment that one learns there is a major gab in desire. Oftentimes the high strung person feels like a victim of "bait & switch".


savvydating profile image

savvydating 3 years ago

Agreed. There is nothing shallow about needing good sex. Some of us figured that out long ago, thank goodness. Also, this is one more reason not to jump into marriage. If someone "switches," they'll likely do it during dating, at some point. The problem is that some individuals may not recognize what is happening, i.e., lack of sexual interest from their partner... more and more often. They remain in denial, I suppose.

By right or wrong, I assume you mean that all is fair in love and war. I would not agree that there is nothing in this world that is wrong... but that's another story. By the way, you've written a very useful hub on an important subject.


dashingscorpio profile image

dashingscorpio 3 years ago Author

savvydating, Very true! It probably takes 18 months to get to see a person's "authentic self'"

As for "right" and "wrong" and I am referring to what one person wants in a relationship versus what their mate wants for the relationship.

Just because two people want different things does not mean one person is right and the other is wrong. It just means (they) are wrong for each other! :-)

The goal is to find someone who (agrees) with you or wants what you want!

Thanks again for your comments!


whizcreed profile image

whizcreed 3 years ago from India

Well written article.. A good point of view..


dashingscorpio profile image

dashingscorpio 3 years ago Author

whizcreed, Thanks for stopping by to read my hub and posting a comment.


SandCastles 3 years ago

Men have to realize that a woman needs to know that her mate finds her attractive; that is extremely important. If the man is ogling another women in front of his mate, the man has to realize that is going to affect his sex life with her. Most women are devastated when they find a playboy laying around. Their first thought is, "Aren't I good enough?" And when a woman feels unattractive she isn't interested in having sex. The man who says, "she needs to feel confident without me constantly reassuring her", is living in fantasy land. Most women are insecure about their looks (no matter what they look like). A blonde women will feel crushed if she finds her mate looking at an Asian woman and will think, "he doesn't find me attractive. I'm not his type". If a man had any brains he would make his mate feel like she was the most beautiful, sexual woman in the world. If she is thin, he would comments about how he likes her slender build; if she is roundy, he would say that he loves her full figure. Some men might think that if he gets the woman insecure by comparing her to other women she will be more keen to have sex to prove herself but this manipulative strategy will backfire big time. The man will have an insecure woman who changes in the closet, who doesn't want the man to see her naked and who is definitely inhibited. Men can talk about what women need to do to be good in bed until they are blue in the face-it won't matter unless the man makes the woman feel beautiful. I've seen men makes mistakes too many times. So men, don't leave the playboy around, do not ogle women (keep your eyes fixed straight and the woman will be impressed), don't talk about how you find an actress or a singer attractive (keep it to yourself). Even if the woman asks you, "Do you think she's pretty?"; don't fall for the trap. Shrug and say, "She's okay" and act disinterested. Honesty is the best policy? Not if you want a good sex life.


SandCastles 3 years ago

Part 2.

Now if the man makes the woman feel beautiful and does not compare her to other women and the woman still is not interested in having sex, there is problem.

She could be someone who simply isn't interested in sex. Some people are not sexual. This is a deal breaker if you are in a relationship with this person and sex is part of that relationship. In this case, it doesn't matter what you do ("you can't teach your cat to bark").

Some women become lazy and even though you shower them with attention, they don't have sex with you because they are addicted to masturbation. They do it themselves so why rely on the man and this a very selfish behaviour (men can be the same way). Sex between couples is supposed to be about sharing and mutual giving. If a woman does her own thing and wants nothing to do with you, this is obviously a deal breaker too. It is typical for this type of woman to blame you instead of taking responsibility for her own addiction and her laziness, where she can't be bothered to teach you how to please her.

Some women use the feminist argument, "my body is my own" and refuse to have sex on the grounds that it is their right to refuse you. Of course the woman can say no but if she says no all the time, the man has the right to choose another mate who is sexually suited to him.

There has to be a lot of communication between couples so they know what to expect. I knew a woman who was shocked when she found out that her husband was cheating on her. She didn't have sex with him. She thought that holding hands was enough and commented that when they slept at night, she'd touch his shoulder. Sorry lady, that is not enough. She didn't have empathy for her husband's needs. She was satisfied holding hands. He wasn't. It was wrong for him to cheat but I was surprised at how shocked she was at his behaviour. It was like she thought that because she didn't need sex, he shouldn't need sex either.

It is about communication and defining what a deal breaker is, for the man and the woman.


dashingscorpio profile image

dashingscorpio 3 years ago Author

SandCastles , This article is not "gender specific". I personally have know women who complained about being in a sexual rut with their men! There are many women who long for a return of passionate sex in their marriages and relationships. In fact it is (women) that purchase 75% of all books on relationship and sex advice.


dashingscorpio profile image

dashingscorpio 3 years ago Author

SandCastles, With regard to your part 2. :-)

You made some valid points. "Some people are not sexual. This is a deal breaker if you are in a relationship with this person and sex is part of that relationship. In this case, it doesn't matter what you do."

I believe (compatibility) is very important in and out of bed. If someone started out being one way and changed or stopped, they need to communicate with their mate why they have done so. No one can read another person's mind. If there really is a compatibility issue sometimes people are better off finding someone who is more like themselves!

Having said that there will always be a group of people who play "bait & switch". In other words they do whatever they need to do in order to win your heart or get a commitment. Afterwards they revert back to their "authentic selves" while expecting you behave as if nothing changed. That's completely unrealistic! Changes bring on changes.

If you stop paying your mortgage your house is foreclosed, stop showing up for work you get fired, stop paying your taxes you go to jail and so on. Anyone who stopped having sex with their mate or spouse is living in a dream world if they believe their significant other will not "find a way" to address their needs. Men usually don't file for divorce. They cheat.

As I've stated this article is not "gender specific". Both women and men complain about boring sex or sexless marriages and relationships.

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