Dear Wendy: “Can A Relationship Work Without Sexual Chemistry?”
I have been with my fiance for a little over two years. We share a strong friendship, have many things in common and our personalities definitely complement each other. We’ve been through enough of the tough stuff that I don’t question what our relationship will be like for the rest of our lives, and I know in my heart that he will be a wonderful husband and father when we have children. We agree on timing, when to get married, when to have kids, even the kids’ names. Being with him has allowed me to be my best self, his love and support are ever-present in his actions and words. The problem is I don’t feel a sexual attraction to him. I enjoy the way he kisses me and usually enjoy our intimate encounters, but I never feel that “I have to have you right now” feeling. I never have, not for him. I used to be a very sexual person and I miss that part of myself. I try to tell him certain ways to do certain things, but I never feel that yearning for him. The attraction just isn’t there. Does this just happen after living together for a couple of years? I love him and I am willing to work at this, but I worry that maybe we just lack the sexual chemistry that I crave. Everything else about us feels right and I can’t imagine not waking up with him for the rest of my life. I guess my question is, do you need sexual chemistry as well as love to make a relationship work? — Wants to Want Him
I get this question — or a variation of it — in my inbox on a near-daily basis, and the bad news is there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer. Do you need sexual chemistry to make a relationship work? Well, I don’t know, do you? Really, you’re the only person who can answer that. For some people, it’s quite enough to have someone with whom they have many things in common, and share similar values and ideas for the future. If you like the way your fiance kisses you and you enjoy your “intimate encounters,” I’d say you might even be batting better than average. And yes, even if you had sexual chemistry the first time you set eyes on him, that doesn’t mean it’s something that will last forever. Certainly, attraction, chemistry, and that “I have to have you right now” feeling often wanes after a couple has been together for a while. (And personally, I think movies and sexy TV shows have given many of us unrealistic notions of what chemistry should look and feel like.) But the bottom line is, does it really matter what happens in any other relationships or to any other couples?
The real question is whether YOUR relationship can work without sexual chemistry, and that’s simply something you’ll have to answer for yourself. I can tell you that it’s quite possible that you may find someone else who makes you weak in the knees but doesn’t treat you like your fiance does. You may find someone whose sexual pull is completely magnetic, but he’s got no interest in getting married or having kids or even necessarily being a boyfriend. You need to really evaluate your priorities and decide what you’re willing to live with and without, and then ask yourself some hard, honest questions. If you knew you’d never ever feel a sexual attraction to your fiance, is that a sacrifice you’re willing to make if it means having everything else your relationship offers you? Can you be sexually fulfilled without feeling magnetic chemistry with your partner? What would affect your quality of life more: never feeling sexual chemistry with your partner or never again having a partner you love as much as your fiance?
When you say you miss the sexual person you used to be, is there anything YOU can do to bring her back? In other words, can you shift the focus from your fiance to you in a way that gives you some control in the situation?
I don’t believe chemistry is something we can magically create, but there are certainly ways you can help make yourself — and your relationship — feel sexier. Before giving up on your relationship, I’d trying upping the kink factor between you and your fiance. Hit a sex shop together and do a little shopping, try sex in public, maybe hit a sex club together (even if it’s just to watch). Get creative! If you love this guy and you like the way he kisses and has sex with you, don’t be quick to dismiss him. You may not ever get that over-the-top, weak-in-the-knees feeling you crave, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a perfectly happy, fulfilling sex life and relationship together.
*Do you have a relationship/dating question I can help with? Send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.