Great Sexpectations: Can A Relationship (Not A Marriage) Make It Without Sex?

February 5, 2013  |  


A few weeks ago I was riding the train on my way to work, and I overheard a conversation between two young ladies that was interesting, but slightly disturbing. The two teenagers were discussing their relationships and one of them was saying how many ex-boyfriends she had, and that she didn’t want another relationship at this time in her life because she didn’t want to have sex with anyone else at this point in her life because she felt that she had been with too many people already. As their conversation continued, I tuned them out and started thinking how sad it was for this young lady to believe that she could not be involved in a relationship without having sex. I also started thinking about how many adult women and men feel the same way, which led me to ask, is sex a requirement in relationships? And is it a necessity to have sex in order for a relationship to be productive?

I ask these questions because I know a number of men and women who believe that a relationship can work without having sex, but it won’t reach its full potential.  I also know that many women in some relationships feel pressured to have sex while in a relationship because they feel if they don’t have sex with their mate, then he will have sex with someone else. And some men believe that a relationship can’t be good without having sex. Many people would say, yes, it is necessary to have sex in a relationship, and many would say that it isn’t. Some people believe that having sex in a relationship allows them to express themselves. They see sex as a form of giving themselves totally to their mate through love making.  Many people also view sex as a relationship deal ‘maker’ or ‘breaker.’ Sex can often be viewed as a relationship deal maker or breaker because if the sexual experience is good, that can often seal the deal for being in a relationship and being happy; but if the sexual experience is not what was expected, then that can kill the possibility of a relationship because many people do not want to be in or remain in a relationship where they aren’t sexually satisfied or sexually compatible with someone.

On the other hand, many people would say that sex is not a requirement for a prosperous relationship. Why? Because they may feel as though sex is a distraction from getting to know someone on a deeper level outside of being physical, or they want to focus on building the relationship on a more profound level and they believe that you cannot build a relationship based on sexual gratification. But what is sex really? What is the purpose for engaging in intercourse? Most people believe that sex is a physical experience that focuses on gratifying the physical nature of our being that should be acted upon whenever an urge arises. However, sex is a selfless act designed to begin and create a new bond/covenant between two people. It is a selfless act with the purpose of pleasing one’s husband or wife, and to give yourself totally to them in mind, body and spirit. Many people view sex simply as a physical act of gratification to satisfy their physical needs for whatever reason, and that is why it seems as though sex is a requirement in most relationships when it should not be.

Sex is a sacred act that should be shared and honored between husband and wife and should not be a requirement in a relationship that may or may not lead to marriage. I know many of you may be thinking that there are benefits to having sex before marriage or engaging in sex with someone you’re involved with, but have you ever thought about the benefits of waiting, or even thought about the true purpose of sex? Everyone has their individual expectations for relationships and expect for those expectations to be met, but I believe that the “sexpectation” should be an expectation that should be left behind. You can miss out on a great relationship and a great person because your judgment is clouded with your expectations of good sex being met or not being met, and the purpose of a relationship is to get to know someone for who they are face to face, soul to soul, and not on one’s back. What are your “sexpectations” in relationships? Does physical gratification lead your relationships? Who expects sex in a relationship more, men or women?

Liz Lampkin is the Author of Are You a Reflection of the Man You Pray For? Follow her on Twitter @Liz_Lampkin


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  • Those little girls have no business giving out their cookie that’s sad and really cannot be compared with what a grown woman does and does not do in her relationship.

    With that said, is it possible to have a relationship without sex? Absolutely granted a woman finds someone on the same page as she is.

  • Ms_Sunshine9898

    I always said I would wait until I got married to have sex. . . Then I met my first love. Considering how many men I’ve had sex with and nothing good coming out of any of those “relationships”, I’m going to try it God’s way. God intended for us to save sex for marriage so that we wouldn’t have to deal with the drama of BMD/BDD, STDs, unwanted pregnancies, cheating, and a host of other issues that sex can bring into a relationship. I have enough stress in my life without sex adding to the equation. If a man can respect my desires to wait until marriage before I have sex again, I’m pretty sure he is the man for me. Any man who can’t respect that and let’s me know he may have to go look elsewhere clearly doesn’t respect me, my mind, or beliefs. . .

  • Stanley Dada


  • Thatgitl13

    I dont believe there is a cookie cut answer here. Every individual and every relationship is different and people have to do what works for them. I, for one, feel as though I rush into sex. The relationship ends up not working and he becomes yet another guy that had had my goods. So I’ve decided to refrain from sex until I’m sure that what my future guy and I have is real and has the portential to be something more than a friendship. People should do what works for them.

  • Candacey Doris

    This is a question people need to ask when getting into a relationship. If you’re sexual needs don’t match up then you can’t make it. If he needs it twice a day and you’re happy not to do it at all…That’s the most important part, making sure that you’re on the same page.

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  • Nneka

    I am in a long term loving relationship. We are both Christians, and although we had sex in the beginning of our time together, we have recommitted ourselves to wait until our wedding day to have sex again. It has been over a year of no sex and I can truly say that I love him more and more each day and I have a deeper respect for Christ and I see the wisdom in the scriptures. Waiting allows us to form a proper foundation of love, trust and intimacy, so that when we do get married, the sex will further bond us to each other. Sex too soon can ruin a good thing. Best of luck to all 🙂

  • afroneosoul

    Hmm, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised and well I’m not. I’m in favor of waiting but I’m also in favor of grown folks doing what they want to do. What I failed to really truly mentioned in this article was the importance of COMMUNICATION. The fact is whether people are doing it or not no one seems to be talking about what sex signifies to them in a relationship, whether or not they are feeling pressured or whether they would like to wait. There is little talk about the expectations and pressures thrust upon everyone by Western culture, the subculture of African Americans, the church (notice I said church bible which is often taken out of historical context), gender constructs the list goes on and on. All of those things attribute to ideas about sex there is more to it then just sex should only be within the confines of marriage or between a husband and wife. That statement alone fails to acknowledge the homosexual community (guess I shouldn’t be surprised) or the millions of people who are opting not to go down to the courthouse and get “legally” married. Shouldn’t we be encouraging one another to take a closer look at what sex means to us and why it carries such meaning? For some people sex is a requirement for a relationship but does that make them wrong? I definitely think the author was striving to represent both sides of the argument but at the end I just felt it was really saying, “You shouldn’t be having sex outside of marriage anyway.”

    • Dae

      Afroneosoul the author is looking at it in the sence of what God created, which is “Man & Woman” being together. Even though you wished the author mentioned the homosexual community or those who are “not legally married” community, the point is that for most of us those groups are in the minority!! Additionally these are the writer’s beliefs and as we all know, every one has a right to their opinion. Just like you do!

      • Afroneosoul

        Your right these are the writers beliefs. I have slightly different position on the topic and I was using the comment section as a forum for my opinion. “the point is that for most of us those groups are in the minority!” This is a site geared towards towards a minority group so I don’t see why homosexuals and those in long term relationships should be omitted from the discussion and who is MOST OF US?

    • Chile Cheese

      I was TRYING to follow you but I got lost somewhere at the beginning. At the end of the day….in laymen terms. Sticking your peen in someones vaj if yall not married is the wrong way to go about a meaningful and LASTING relationship. You can LET the ways and the pressures of this world sway you to do WHATEVER….there is a such thing as free will. BUT THE CONSEQUENCES OF THAT FREE WILL IS ALSO YOUR CROSS TO BEAR…I dont think everyone should change because the ways of the world are a certain way and the pressures of the world. I know my body and I know my GOD. thats all i need to know. not what Beyonce is doing, or what I see on the latest rap video. If we all took RESPONSIBILTY for our own decisions then we would care more about what goes in our mind and spirit. You naming all of the things people do in this world (homosexualty, courthouse marriage)….just because ALOT OF PEOPLE are doing something DOESNT MAKE THEM RIGHT. Just because ALOT OF PEOPLE want sex for a relationship to happen DOESNT MAKE THEM RIGHT. I dont live my life from what ALOT OF PEOPLE ARE DOING..MAYBE THATS WHATS WRONG WITH THIS WORLD.

      • Afroneosoul

        I’m saying the ways of the world have swayed us all whether it be consciously or unconsciously as soon as you pop out of your mothers womb expectations, ideas and opinions are thrust on us. The church is part of the world. I’m not talking about secular or non secular I’m talking about our environment as a whole. Whether your in opposition to something or in favor of what goes on in the church, in folks bedrooms etc your still reacting to what you have been exposed to. Your right there is such a thing as free will but everybody knows putting a ring on it is no guarantee of nothing. Folks are pay the price for other peoples poor decision making all the time even when they did GET MARRIED. I’m not talking about what ALOT of people are doing and whether they are right or wrong (homosexuality, courthouse marriage) I’m talking about people PEOPLE who are having sex. Everybody that’s having sex ain’t married, everybody having sex isn’t legally ALLOWED to get married. In fact it wasn’t too long ago that it was illegal to marry outside your race. The point is I think people need to have a more open, honest dialogue about sex and expectations and what does and doesn’t make them comfortable.

        • Chile Cheese

          Hunny who said a ring was a guarantee of anything. I hate that silly argument, people acting like its something wrong with being married…WHEN ITS THE PEOPLE MARRIED THAT HAVE THE ISSUE…NOT THE INSTITUTION. I think its silly when people blame the insitution of marriage of why people cheat…etc. sorry thats a pet peeve of mine. Like you dont have control over your body/mind….And whether we let society we are exposed to influence us or not there is a such thing as RIGHT AND WRONG. Thats not going to change just because its cool to be stupid…If you are grown you should know the difference. Again thats a problem with this society… we all are a product of our environments….but to let that environment dictate what you do to your own body and mind is stupidity. We shouldnt just call it OK because we are a product of it…the same goes for CRIME AND MURDER IN THE BLACK COMMUNITY, we shouldnt just accept things as a way of life because we are influenced by our enviroment. you are correct at your conclusion, people should express how they feel, especially in this day and age, because MOST MEN…expect women they are interested in to sleep with them. And for me thats not the case….so you are right in that aspect.

  • Kay

    I think its a smarter practice in a relationship not to have sex. Intimacy is more than physical. I am in a relationship with my boyfriend and due to not just our religious beliefs but our personal belifes we will not be having sex until marriage. My relationship has more intimacy than most becaus we spend time getting to know eachother on a level that is more than physical. I know it sounds cheesy but being celibate in a realtionship is smart and in these days the safest way to go. Ladies stop sharing the most scred part of yourself with everyone. Saev it for that one guy who has earned that type of relationship with you through trust, love, compassion and committment.

    • BedStuyBklynChica

      Oh my goodness I wish there was a love button this is so true!!!!

    • LC

      What she said! Very well said….It’s more common than people think. I know plenty of folks who’ve waited til marriage or are still waiting and have even closer relationships!

  • C’mon son

    I think that’s why it is good to let it be known early on if you’re celibate or abstinent before deeper feelings are formed or bonds are made. Then you can just move on to find someone who shares your views, no sweat. The problem arises when people try to attain a conquest, lie and say they have self control, or don’t need sex in a relationship when they know good and well they don’t have self control or that’s not really what they want. Then they go on to cheat or start pressuring, making an ugly situation out of something they could have left alone in the beginning.

    • Honey

      Truth! I was here once and it didn’t work out. As long as both partners are on the same pg that makes things easier

    • yeppers

      I agree…definitely let a man know what page you are on. that will help show some peoples tru colors if they are not serious. If you tell a dude that and they immediately start playing you to the left (not calling, going out etc.)…then you know he was just wanting you to have sex. but look for someone who is willing to take that road with you…WE are all human and have that urge but the control to not do so and resist temptation is what sets people who are serious about it apart. so i agree….find someone like minded. and tell the others to go find who will give it up in 3 months. lol

    • mac

      Absolutely, but sometimes even that isn’t fool-proof. Sometimes they think you’re not serious, or they can change your mind. Or sometimes they really and truly do believe they can respect your celibacy, but it gets to be too much for them, which I can’t fault them for because everybody ain’t able.

      The best you can do is find someone who shares your values, or better yet someone who is also celibate.

      • YES gAWDs

        this is also true..,.but in turn thats a way to weed people out. Yes let them come with the “‘Ok I can wait too” lie….Im not giving it up just cus you rubbing on me late at night…so time will definitely tell whether a person who says that is really serious about it. It wont make me change my stance if you are not….so Be real or you know where the door is. lol