There are many ways in which having a fulfilling sex life affects our way of being, some might say sex in relationships and happy mental well-being are interwoven. For example, if we look at the reputable psychological approach to human needs outlined by Abraham Maslow ‘The Hierarchy of Needs’, he places sex in the first fundamental category of human needs, alongside breathing, sleeping and eating. He suggests it as the base foundation of our needs in human life.
There’s an intimate dance between having a fulfilling sex life and healthy mental wellbeing. The frequency and level of fulfilment when it comes to sex are two components which affect the way we feel, think and our overall satisfaction in romantic relationships.
Often couples I work with have their sex life, or lack of, as one of their biggest frustrations, yet it’s one of the topics off the table for discussion within their couple alongside money and how to overcome relationship conflicts.
Talking about sex in dating and relationships is a complex topic and one that is often taboo. It’s one of the things we human beings all want and find as important. Yet, it’s one of the biggest components left to chance for couples.
Many leave sexual connection to chance, live in silent frustration about their mismatched libidos or don’t dare speak of their deepest desires and so stick to the sexual connection they have, living with their silent unmet needs.
The incredible Gottman institute have spoken much about the insights and dynamics of relationships whereby the intersection of sex and mental health has been analysed as part of building healthy, strong romantic relationships. The frequency and the level in which one feels fulfilled in their sex life is often set as the barometer to measure how connected a relationship is and how it is going.
The Gottmans suggest that regular and fulfilling sexual intimacy is often an indicator of emotional connection and a thriving partnership.
Gottman Institute also suggests that sexually intimate moments foster emotional trust and vulnerability in a relationship. And so, engaging in a satisfying sexual relationship allows partners to deepen their emotional connection, creating a safe space for openness and communication to follow.
Furthermore, we do know that the hormones released during sex lower stress levels, releasing oxytocin. The love hormone is undoubtedly going to make any human being feel more positive at least in the short term. The release of stress allows the body to let go of any tensions and frustrations, thus, is likely to have a psychological impact on the mind as well as the body when stress is released.
It could be suggested that the physical intimacy within a relationship opens the door to emotional intimacy. If this connection is cultivated through having sex and partners feel emotionally connected they are likely to be equipped to navigate challenges in life together, creating more respect and togetherness as a partnership during stressful times.
Research also suggests that partners who are able to respond and communicate with each other in the bedroom are likely to also have a deep emotional responsiveness and connection to one another outside of the bedroom.
It’s essential that couples communicate fluidly inside and outside of the bedroom. I strongly believe that if couples connect on a deep emotional level outside of the bedroom they can transfer that connection to communication about their wants, needs and desires between the sheets. Additionally, if couples are having an incredibly connected sex-life there is a high chance they can transfer that connection into their romantic partnership using the skills of communication, responsiveness and connection to build on their emotional relationship.
When couples have a sex-life that manages both parties expectations, is as consistent as possible (even when life is busy) and meets the needs and desires of both individuals in the relationship, it sets a foundation for a relationship to thrive, lowering frustrations, stress and increasing overall satisfaction in ones love life.