“When Peter* and I started dating five years ago, we didn’t go through that initial passionate phase, during which we couldn’t get enough of each other. Most couples, early on in their relationship, tend to have quite a lot of sex and are openly affectionate with each other, but with Peter and me, it was different.
That’s not to say there wasn’t any chemistry between us when we met, but our connection was more emotional than physical or sexual. We didn’t rush to sleep together and when we eventually had sex it was enjoyable.
The earth didn’t move for me and we weren’t swinging from the chandelier – it was just nice, comforting sex.
Sex was never a priority for us then, and it isn’t now, after three years of marriage. My girlfriends think it’s strange that Peter and I only have sex once or twice a year, but it works for us and that’s all that matters.
1. Just not the “sexual” type
Sex isn’t the be-all and end-all of a relationship, but I admit that it’s important. I know couples that don’t have sex because they are not attracted to each other or don’t feel connected to each other anymore.
In our case, Peter and I just aren’t sexual people. We rarely have the urge to have sex, and when we do make love it’s fun and over pretty quickly.
Peter and I have had other sexual partners before and we rarely had sex in those relationships, too. In fact, most of our previous relationships didn’t work out precisely because our partners wanted more sex when we did.
So when Peter and I discovered that our sex drives matched, we were happy. Finally, we both found someone who wouldn’t demand more sex than we could give or make us feel bad for not wanting to have sex.
I was the one who first told Peter about my low sex drive. We’d been dating for a month and I wanted to be open with him. I told him that I didn’t mind having sex occasionally but it just wasn’t a priority for me. I was surprised – and relieved – when he told me that he had a low sex drive, too.
We bonded really quickly after finding out that we had this one crucial thing in common.
2. Maintaining intimacy in other ways
Just because our sex life is practically non-existent, it doesn’t mean that Peter and I don’t love each other or don’t romance each other from time to time.
We hold hands whenever we go out, cuddle in bed before falling asleep, and do sweet things for each other, such as preparing special meals and buying expensive gifts for no reason.
Peter and I don’t have a sex schedule. If one of us feels like making love we’ll let the other know, and after we do it we’ll cuddle and kiss for a while. If he feels horny but I don’t, I might help him masturbate or perform oral sex on him. Do I ever feel sex-starved? No.
When I was in my 20s I thought I was abnormal for not having sexual urges, but over the years I’ve learnt that everybody’s sexuality is different. I have friends who are horny all the time – not being like them doesn’t make me weird or a freak.
It took me some time to accept that I can’t compare my libido to others’.
3. No sex, no problem
Intimacy is about so much more than having sex, in my opinion. To be intimate with someone means baring your heart and soul to them, not being afraid to be yourself in front of them, and being honest about everything with them.
I think people need to get over this idea that being in a sexless relationship is bad, wrong or abnormal. If you trust your partner completely, do things to stay connected, share common goals, enjoy each other’s company, and just have a good time together, then that’s a great relationship.
Sex is just another way to maintain that closeness. While we’re not lovers in a sexual sense, Peter and I are definitely best friends who love each other very much. There’s no one I trust more with my secrets, and whenever I’m having a lousy day or need emotional support, I know that I can rely on Peter.
Unlike most of my coupled-up friends, Peter and I are also invested in each other’s mental and emotional growth – he pushes me to be better and vice versa, and we hold each other accountable when we’re working to achieve personal goals. Even without sex, I think we have an amazing marriage already.”
*Names have been changed
4. Is it “normal” to only have sex once or twice a year?
Yes, says intimacy coach and relationship expert Dr Angela Tan:
“Variations in sex drive are normal. Whether you want sex more or less frequently than your partner, what’s more important is communicating this need and making sure your partner understands and supports you.
Sex drives can be seasonal, so it’s good to know your peak and off-peak seasons. For example, if you have pre-menstrual syndrome you may not be as eager to have sex, whereas if you’re super-stressed, your sex drive may be higher.
If your sex drive differs from your partner’s, it might help to work out a schedule to avoid disappointment.
Arguing about your mismatched sex drives can damage your relationship, so if you and your partner are experiencing tension over this, it’s best to get some professional counselling before things get out of hand.
Once a year or once a day, there’s no ‘normal’ or ‘right’ number of times to have sex. It’s intimacy, and not sex, that’s at the core of every relationship. If you’re communicating well with your partner and sharing intimate moments together, then that’s what you should focus on.
Of course, if your sex life has dwindled significantly over time, it could be that it’s lost that fire and you may need to spice things up in the bedroom. Or, maybe some aspect of your relationship isn’t working and the tension is interfering with your sex life. If either is the case and it’s affecting your relationship, it’s a good idea to seek help with a trained counsellor or relationship expert.”
This article was first published in Her World Online.