Can relationship survive without intimacy - How to Fix it?

Why does the lack of intimacy in a relationship matter?

Couples often joke about a dry spell in a relationship, or not having enough intimacy in their relationship. But behind this joke people are often hiding their pain and frustration, because a lack of intimacy is neither trivial nor comedic for the people involved in such a relationship. In fact, one study showed that among married couples who filed for a divorce, a whooping 70% cited the lack of intimacy as one of the top factors that affected their relationship.
The lack of intimacy in a relationship may not seem like a big deal at first, and some people might even consider that to be normal after being together for a while, but in actuality the lack of intimacy can be problematic for any relationship, sort of red flags if you will, for two main reasons:
First is the very basic, physiological need that all humans and even animals have, which is the desire for sexual satisfaction. Getting denied of these basic needs, especially by your partner with whom you’re in a romantic relationship, can lead to frustration quickly.
And second, intimacy is rarely just about sex. Intimacy communicates affection, that you find your partner desirable - it reflects an emotional closeness. Because at the core of intimacy, there are two people who accept each in other in profound ways - and that right there is more than just the physical intimacy, but rather an emotional vulnerability that two people choose with one another. It fulfills that innate desire in you to feel accepted in the entirety for who you are, to feel wanted and loved.
And the opposite….. well, that can feel equally true. When a relationship starts to loose intimacy, it is natural for you or your partner to start feeling undesirable or unwanted, or that one of you is emotionally withdrawing from the other person. Add the sexual frustration on top of that, and it can start to feel like the relationship is falling apart.
But the biggest problem of all is that this feeling of not being desired by your partner and the stress about the relationship, can trigger all sorts of insecurities in you, which can make it even more difficult to confidently talk about your needs and the impact of this lack of intimacy on you.
Rather, attempts to approach this issue with your partner, often come out as half-hearted attempts to initiate intimacy as a way of seeking reassurance, that if not reciprocated, can feel even more hurtful. Or this stress and these insecurities can also come out in the form of frequent fights that provide a temporary release to that anger and frustration within you. But in the bigger schema of things, these fights only make things worse - for intimacy AND for the state of the relationship.

Intimacy is not purely physical.

What’s the barrier?

So you see, a lack of intimacy is rarely an isolated issue. It almost always seeps out into other aspects of your relationship because it presents an existential threat to your need of being accepted and loved - physically and emotionally.
And yet, most couples don’t like to talk about it, not even with their partner. They try to avoid the awkwardness of having that conversation with their partner, by trying to find a reason on their own, and the biggest reason for that is shame.
Over time, this shame becomes the primary emotion driving your mind, And when the topic does eventually come-up, this shame that has been sitting in your mind for so long makes it difficult to open-up and share how you really feel, and is instead masked with defensiveness, like shouting and yelling, or dismissing the topic altogether.
And all of this because people often take the lack of intimacy in a relationship personally - as if the person who chose to be with you in a relationship, suddenly changed their mind and is no longer attracted to you. What people often miss is that the lack of intimacy in a relationship is often not a real problem, but rather a symptom of something deeper, something emotional.

How to resolve the lack of intimacy?

So can a relationship survive without intimacy? The answer is no, a relationship can not survive without sex. At least not unless that’s something that both you and your partner talk about and agree upon. But the bigger, real question is why is there a lack of intimacy in the relationship in the first place?
For most people, the reason isn’t because they don’t want sex, but rather because the conditions for feeling the desire to have sex, to feel the emotionally pull are not being met or communicated. Usually, the person who doesn’t seem to want sex are withholding some thoughts or emotions.
They might be feeling not in the mood because of some stressors outside of bedroom, where they don’t feel heard or supported by their partner. Remember that the mood for intimacy, the tone of the relationship is set outside of the bedroom. The mood for intimacy is established by how comfortable and supported you feel in the relationship, how understood you feel by your partner. Sex is just a manifestation of that emotional closeness and comfort.
Now that doesn’t mean that conversation about your sex life is something to be ignored. We live in a society where sex is such a taboo that people often don’t talk about it even with their partner. But it’s important to learn what works for one another to ensure that intimacy is equally fulfilling for both partners. Often times, there are fantasies and desires that people withhold because they feel ashamed or fear being judged by their partner, but that only leads to an unsatisfactory sex life, which eventually leads to lack of intimacy in a relationship.
Communication and meeting each other half-way is a good place to start. Some couples find it helpful to first write-out all that they want their partner to hear and understand in the form of a letter, and share that with each other. Then take some time to read and absorb what your partner wrote in the letter, reflect on your emotions in response to what your partner share with you. It’s likely that you will find that you wrote similar things in your letter and that you both want similar things that were just not being communicated, and some things that make it clear where the gaps between you and your partner are, that you can work on bridging together.
Once you both have communicated your desires and read your partner’s desires in the form of a letter, it will be much easier to talk about things face-to-face.
And remember that calm and respect are very important when approaching this issue. It also helps tp keep in mind that two people rarely want the exact same thing, even when it comes to emotional and physical intimacy in a relationship. Finding a modest middle ground between what you want and what your partner wants is where you both are likely to find your happiness.

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