Sexual intimacy a healthy part of any long term relationship, as couples in love can enjoy one another for years and years. But did you know there is a “right” and a “wrong” kind of sex? In order to have a healthy sex life, specific traits must be present. There could be a lack of sex in your relationship or you can be in an unhealthy sexual relationship and not even be aware of it.
What are the signs of an unhealthy or, potentially unhealthy, sexual relationship? I have created a list of them, which you will see below. Pay attention if you detect any of the following warning signs in your relationship; they can show up at any time, whether on your first date or after twenty years of marriage. Regardless of when manifested, dangerous or risky sexual behavior or exposure to this behavior is something that you should address immediately; in some cases removing yourself from the relationship and/or otherwise insisting on therapy.
Overall, experts agree that sex should:
- Be consensual
- Be an expression of love
- Be a subject of communication
- Be controlled and controllable
- Be mutual and intimate
- Be intimate, shared, and equal
- Be a natural drive, never a compulsion
- Be empowering
- Be equal
- Enhance self-esteem and confidence
- Responsible, safe, and respectful
- Never feel forced, coerced, or pressured
- Never be deceptive
- Never include objects or activities with which you are uncomfortable including or using
- Never be painful unless pain is expressly part of the enjoyment
- Never be a condition of love, or devoid of love
- Never be obligatory
- Never be distant
- Never be denigrating (not including certain consensual role-playing activities)
- Never be an action one does “To” another
- Never be used as a weapon, nor withheld as a punishment
- Never be secretive
- Never cause a person to lead a double life
To follow up with a few of the points listed above, the most important of these is open communication. Sex should be a subject in which a couple can discuss with completely open honesty. There should not be secrets, shame, or judgment associated with sex or sexual activities. Sex should include emotional intimacy and should always be fulfilling. It should always be something you do to please one another in a shared way.
If any sex-related activity or aspect of sexual activity – such as pornography, deceit, forcefulness, manipulation, or punishment (i.e. withholding sex), is prevailing over your relationship, or even if some aspect concerns you, discuss the problem with your partner or seek marriage advice from a licensed sex or marriage counselor.