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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Sexcapades: Sex or ex?

Published: September 23, 2010
Section: Opinions

GRAPHIC BY Savannah Pearlman/The Hoot

As you may have guessed, I am a huge proponent of sex in relationships. In fact, it might be more correct to say that I strongly believe in sex as relationships. I think factors like common interests and ideals and chemistry are hugely important (what use is great sex if he can’t also make you laugh?), but to me, sex is one of the most important parts of a relationship. Certainly, once you start, you can’t stop.

Most of us are not old enough, and have not been in relationships for long enough to experience the true disappearance of sex from our lives, but it has happened. Often, there are two stages.

The first, which is totally normal, is when you stop jumping each other whenever no one else is in the room. This might happen after a couple of weeks or months, maybe after spending your first weekend together or going on holiday. Maybe one of you took care of the other while sick. This however, is totally expected. No one can maintain the sheer volume of sex that often occurs at the beginning of a relationship. You go from all the time to a couple of times a week, then maybe just two or three times a week. Ideally, that’s where it stays.

The question is what to do when one partner decides that they’re no longer interested or for whatever reason, sex is no longer an important part of the relationship. The truth is, that physical connection is incredibly important. Everyone wants to know that they’re wanted and sexy, and that their partner perceives them in this way. Additionally, everyone has needs and you shouldn’t have to fulfill them on your own every time if you have a partner. However, all other aspects of a relationship are suddenly called into question when the sex disappears.

On a personal level, I know that with one of my exes, the less time we were able to devote to sex, the more we fought. It became a vicious cycle over time, as the fights caused each of us to grow frustrated with the other and less willing to provide sexual satisfaction. In another example, an ex, who I had always stayed close with, seemed much less connected to me when we were no longer sexually involved. Suddenly all of the things that differed about our personalities but had never mattered throughout our relationship, or subsequent years of friendship and booty-calling sang out to me. It was as if I were meeting someone for the first time, and looking at them thinking, “How can we be friends when we have so little in common?” It also changed my physical perception of him. Obviously, during the course of five years, many things had changed about each of us, but without the (awesome) sexual aspect, I discovered that I was no longer attracted to him at all.

Sex changes everything. In a relationship, it can prove the motivator and cause a relationship to occur or the glue, keeping one together. But it can also prove the downfall, as bad sex is hard to overcome in the long run. Ultimately, after months or years, sex may also prove to be the test of how strong a relationship really is.

Can you maintain your bond if an ocean separates you? What if one of you is sick for a long time? Does one of you want or need sex more than the other? How will this affect you in the long run? Will someone cheat or will someone make accommodations to make sure you’re both happy?

There is no right or wrong answer, and no one solution works for everyone. What I have noticed, though, both from my own experiences and those of my friends, is that once sex is part of a relationship, you cannot separate the two without some kind of consequences. Many of the negative feelings one has about a certain aspect of another’s personality resurface or compromises that were made begin to erode. Feelings of happiness within the relationship become more rare and fights increase. Of course many relationships survive, but it is important to read the signs.