3 Things More Important Than Sex In Healthy Relationships
One time, someone I was dating complained to me that all we ever did was "have sex and eat food." "Yeah!" I responded. "Isn't it great?" What had started out as a fling seemed to be heading toward a long-term relationship. We were having fun and were completely wrapped up in one another.
What the relationship lacked, though, was balance. We burned out after a short amount of time together because what we were doing wasn't actually healthy. Sex is amazing, but there are things more important than sex in a relationship. Sex can be just as indulgent as eating candy. Too much of it, and you'll rot your teeth out.
So I wouldn't make the same mistake of placing sex over everything else that's needed in a relationship, I put together a list of qualities that are more important for a lasting partnership.
1. You Communicate Properly
Communication is the backbone of a healthy relationship, and it's way more important than sex. If you can't be open and honest with each other about your needs and desires, then the other person is never going to know what is going on in your head.
If your partner is bothering you (because eventually, they will bother you), then you need to have confidence that you can bring that to their attention and that your partner will not shame you or tell you you've got it wrong. In order to communicate, though, you need to be sure that you are in touch with your own feelings before you can bring it to another person's attention. It won't do any good to bring up issues when you aren't entirely sure where they're coming from or what the source might be.
If you feel upset with your partner but are not sure why, you can always take a step back to figure things out before opening your mouth without knowing what you want to say. Sometimes, it even helps to write out how you're feeling.
It's also important that you are aware that open communication can hurt feelings. Say, for example, that you have a crush on someone else and are experiencing guilt, or maybe even resentment. This is definitely something you need to discuss with your partner, but you also need to be aware that being brutally honest has consequences. Be sure that you are giving your partner as much space for their feelings as you need for yours.
A final point: Communication is not the same as a monologue. When an issue between you and your partner comes up, healthy couples are sure to ask questions of one another and give each other the time they need to respond.
2. You Recognize That Your Partner Cannot Give You Everything
Rather than relying solely on a boyfriend or a girlfriend to emotionally fulfill and support you, there needs to be a network of people in your life who can give you the care and attention you need. While it's totally rad if you and your partner can give one another equal amounts of care, it's easy to slip into one of you being the other's therapist, particularly if you are experiencing a rough time.
I've definitely relied way too heavily on partners when there was terminal illness in my family, for example. Others have needed me to help them out with their mental health to the extent that their illness hurt my own well-being. These are human mistakes, and it's to be expected. Just as relying on one friend to be your everything within a social circle would put a strain on your friendship, expecting your partner to be able to completely take care of you creates an imbalance.
There are multiple kinds of love a person needs in their life — sexual and otherwise — and a single person cannot provide anyone with all of them. Making sure that you both have an array of friends and family members, including chosen family, ensures that you are getting all the forms of platonic, familial, sexual, and emotional love a person requires to be truly happy.
It also ensures you won't stay in a relationship out of co-dependency or fear of being alone. You'll be with your partner because you really want to be with them, not simply because of all the attention they can give you.
3. You Are As Much Friends As You Are Lovers
Even though you should have other friends while you are in a relationship, your romantic partner should relate to you platonically as well.
Think about it. You respect your friends' opinions and ideas. You want to talk to them. You enjoy goofing off with them, learning new things through them. Your friends introduce you to their friends, and your circle grows. These aspects of friendship are more important than sex for your relationship. You're happy when your friends have successes. You genuinely enjoy being around them — and you're not even having sex with each other!
Sex is special, but it's also kind of not. An emotional connection isn't even a prerequisite to good sex. (Although, it makes it better.) I've had amazing sex with people I couldn't spend a whole day with. I've had chemistry with folks when we don't even speak the same language.
Those sexual connections are definitely real -- but they aren't really that important, beyond a few minutes of fun. And while sex is important to healthy relationships, it's simply one part of the beautiful mosaic that you and your partner could be building together.
Just be sure you have all of the materials that such a work of art requires.
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