How Important Is Sex To Your Relationship?

Posted by Kristen Mark, MSc on Nov 17th 2022

How Important Is Sex To Your Relationship?

Have you ever been in a relationship where you feel like as the relationship goes well, so does the sex? Well, there is a reason for this. And there is a reason why research indicates that the most satisfying sex happens in the context of romantic relationships.

Scientists have consistently shown that sexual and relationship satisfaction is intertwined. What exactly are sexual satisfaction and relationship satisfaction, and how are they different, you ask? Sexual satisfaction is the extent to which, overall, you feel satisfied with the sexual aspect of your relationship. Relationship satisfaction is the extent to which, overall, you feel satisfied with the non-sexual aspects of the relationship. The direction of this relationship remains unclear. That is, research is inconclusive regarding whether relationship satisfaction predicts sexual satisfaction or the other way around.

Some researchers have found that relationship satisfaction predicts sexual satisfaction, over and above sexual technique. So, you don’t have to be a maverick in the bedroom to stay satisfied, but you do need to have a solid relationship. Others, particularly sex therapists, have used sex as a window into the functioning of the relationship. So if there are problems in the bedroom, this is taken to be a clear sign there are problems in the relationship.

Regardless, maintaining your romantic relationship requires a healthy sex life. After all, the only thing that makes your relationship with your partner more than a friendship is your sexual intimacy with them.

This interconnectedness isn’t just for the ladies, either. It is a common misconception that men are better equipped to separate sex and relationships – but this isn’t the case when it comes to intimate relationships. Sexual and relationship satisfaction have been found to be just as interconnected for men as for women.

For those of you who feel like your sex life is lacking luster, and are now concerned your relationship is in danger, don’t lose hope. Get the sex back! Place priority on your sex life and engage in sex with your partner even if you don’t feel like you’re entirely in the mood. Consider it a favor you’re doing for the betterment of your relationship. If you feel like your problem isn’t quantity, but more a matter of quality, talk to your partner about it. Communication is an incredibly important aspect of satisfaction in relationships.

In research that I conducted with colleagues, we found that when couples communicated effectively, sexual and relationship satisfaction were less intertwined. With good communication, couples can be sexually unsatisfied but relationally satisfied (or vice versa) because they are consciously aware of how they relate to each other on each separate level.

Effective communication is bound to increase the quality of your sexual experience with your partner. Sexual communication is especially important for maintaining sexual satisfaction. The same goes for relational communication – it’s bound to improve your relationship to stay connected in terms of your needs and desires.

Sexual communication is when you talk to your partner about sex. A lot of couples find this really hard to do, not only because they don’t feel comfortable talking about sex, but also because many people don’t actually feel like they have the vocabulary to put their thoughts into words to communicate this with their partner. Practice this with one another, and although you may feel silly at first, you won’t once you reap the benefits.

Your sex life will most certainly impact your relationship, so make it a priority! The intertwined nature of sexual and relationship satisfaction can be controlled by effective communication, particularly sexual communication, with your partner. So, if you want to remain satisfied, make sure you don’t let either aspect of your relationship fall to the wayside.

By Kristen Mark, MSc

Kristen Mark is a PhD student at Indiana University studying health behavior and human sexuality. She conducts research on sexual pleasure and satisfaction, sexual desire, women’s sexuality, and sexuality on the context of long-term relationships. Kristen also teaches undergraduate human sexuality courses and writes for a number of sexuality resources such as Kinsey Confidential and Good in Bed. She can be reached at