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Updated: Jun 27, 2022

Consider the aging process in long term relationships. Over time the desire for sex waxes and wanes. At some point, one partner may realize that for whatever reason, sex is no longer of interest. It could be mental, physical, or emotional. There are so many things that happen over a lifetime and its fantastic to distinguish what works and doesn’t work in our lives and honor it. What is your partner supposed to do? What if sex is an important aspect of their life AND they want to honor you as well.

There’s the rub!

If love, sex, and intimacy are not distinguished and there is no communication around it, resentment and frustration could build with zero resolution. It’s only downhill from here. Let’s look a little deeper at the dynamics if there is no distinction between the three and no authentic communication with options.

Remember the look from your partner that had your temperature rise, that touch that brought a shiver to your stomach, and you knew what was coming. Glorious sex. Yes, yes, YES!

Now consider you’ve lot interest in sex. Maybe your hormones are wacked, you’re in pain from an accident, or you’re just done for whatever reason. Now that look, that touch sets off alarm bells. “Danger Will Robinson,” my partner wants sex, and I don’t. What to do? “I have a headache,” “I’m in the middle of something,” “Later,” or “You are always so horny.” Your mind runs wild with excuses.

What about your partner? Without communication and where love, sex, and intimacy are intertwined, that is where the mischief starts. Maybe they hear “You’re not important” or “You’re not desirable.” Maybe they just walk away to try later. Soon, however, frustration, confusion, or resignation creep in. Intimacy is eroded. On top of that what are they supposed to do, live without sex for the rest of their life?

So here we have it. Great relationship, then sex gets moved off the table by one partner. Touching leads to sex so touching disappears. Communication breaks down, intimacy slips, and the other partner may be left without sex even though it’s still important to them.

Here’s an alternate scenario. Both parties communicate and realize that love, sex, and intimacy are separate and distinct. They can occur at the same time, or they can be separate. So, each becomes clear on boundaries, desires, and alternatives. The result could be that touching isn’t linked to sex and can be enjoyed independently. Touch, a basic human need, still can be enjoyed. Intimacy and love can be present even without sex.

In my world sex is not just intercourse, it occurs on a continuum from flirting to aftercare and everywhere in between. If it’s communicated where the limits are, perhaps touching is still in play, maybe kissing, petting, or even oral.

Being authentic about what you want from your partner and what you’re willing to contribute not only reinforces intimacy, but it also furthers trust and safety.

I think in the US we’ve stopped touching. There’s so much crap associated with it. When is it appropriate and wanted, is there consent, what does it mean, etc.? Touch is vital to our well being as humans. We need touch. We need to rediscover touch.

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