Are couples with unmet sexual needs less satisfied with their relationships overall?
They might be less satisfied, but a willingness to compromise may improve the situation.
Sex is important to many couples. In addition to the physical release, sex fosters closeness and intimacy.
However, partners don’t always have the same sexual views and preferences. They might disagree about sexual frequency or sexual activities. For example, one partner might have a stronger libido than the other and want sex several times a week, while the other might be satisfied with just once a week. Or, one might enjoy a sexual position that the other finds uncomfortable.
Researchers have investigated how unmet sexual needs might affect relationships. In 2021, they published their findings in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
They found that people with unmet sexual needs tended to feel less satisfied with both their sexual and overall relationships. However, dissatisfaction was relieved somewhat in people who thought their partners were motivated to meet their needs.
In other words, people with unmet sexual needs felt more satisfied when they thought their partner was willing to compromise and work out their sexual differences.
If you and your partner have sexual differences, consider the following:
- Talk about it. Communication is essential for good sex. Talk about what you like about your sexual relationship as well as what might be missing. Tell your partner what they can do to make sex more satisfying for you, and listen when they tell you the same. If you’re unsure about their view, don’t hesitate to ask.
- Be flexible and compromise. If your partner wants to try a new sexual activity that you’re not sure about, think it over. What are your reasons for saying no? Is there any way to compromise so that can both be satisfied? Or could you engage in the activity every once in a while?
- Respect consent. Remember that both partners should agree to whatever sexual activity takes place.
- Talk to a professional. Lots of couples have trouble talking about sex and relationships. A counselor or sex therapist can share communication strategies to help you and your partner with these conversations. A therapist can also suggest compromises and solutions that you might not have considered before.
- The British Psychological Society – Research Digest
“Unmet Sexual Needs Can Leave People Less Satisfied With Their Relationship — But Having A Responsive Partner Mitigates This Effect”
(April 21, 2021)
- Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
Balzarini, Rhonda N., et al.
“The detriments of unmet sexual ideals and buffering effect of sexual communal strength.”