Sex isn’t everything in a relationship.
Research shows about a quarter of our enjoyment of the relationship comes from the physical side.
But that’s when sex is good.
You’re wise to ask the question ‘Should I leave if the sex isn’t good?’ because it can also be an indication this person isn’t right for you relationship wise either.
But don’t exit left just yet: there are lots of sexual situations that are fixable.
Should YOU stay or leave? Here’s my take on it.
Tracey Cox reveals the solutions that can fix your relationship if sex with your partner is disappointing - as well as the signs that it's not worth your time (file image)
THERE’S NO CHEMISTRY
Is it a bad sign if you’re not ripping each other’s clothes off at the start of a relationship?
In a word – yes!
If you’ve only had sex once or twice and a deep, tonsil-touching kiss doesn’t end up with both of you ripping your clothes off in the lounge, it’s not a good sign.
Burning loins, frantic underwear removal, snogging in inappropriate places – if you’re not doing it in the beginning, you sure as hell won’t be six months down the track (let alone 20 years on, when every couple is more interested in Netflix than working their way through the Kama Sutra).
Love without (early) lust is usually friendship.
Can chemistry develop over time?
If you’re both emotionally healthy and don’t have any hang-ups, my honest answer is, not usually.
But there are exceptions.
If either of you have had bad sexual experiences that have made you afraid of sex, you might be too scared to give into passion.
Or perhaps one of you has been hurt one too many times and fear that if you give all of yourself – your heart, mind and body – you’ll never survive if it happens again.
In those situations, it’s worth getting some therapy and seeing how you feel afterwards.
Otherwise, think about whether this person should be a friend rather than a lover.
Chemistry won’t guarantee a lifetime of great sex or love, but it’s a bloody good start – and it’s likely to make you stick around for the finish.
Even good relationships have boring bits and chemistry is what keeps us there, picking our fingernails and waiting to see if things improve, rather than dashing out the door the second problems start.
THEY’RE INEXPERIENCED AND/OR THEIR TECHNIQUE IS BAD
Technique can be taught.
If you’re willing to patiently school a new lover in what you like, where and when, this one’s pretty easy to fix.
Remember though: sexual inexperience isn’t about the number of lovers the person’s had.
Plenty of people who’ve had lots of short-term relationships or one-night-stands often find they don’t have a clue how to keep sex exciting in a long term relationship.
Tracey Cox (pictured) says an inexperienced lover can be taught to improve their technique if given patience
The trick to fixing this one is to take the lead and guide them – but don’t be too obvious about it.
Take things slowly: don’t rush through foreplay and stick to the basics to begin with, until they feel more comfortable.
By all means give direction on how you like things done but don’t turn it into a running commentary.
If you can show rather than tell, do it. One of the best things to do is masturbate in front of them, so they get a front row seat of what technique works for you.
Another good trick to boost their confidence: do something you’ve never tried before either, so you’re both trying something new together.
Resist the urge to deliberately show off your (many) carnal skills early on. Yes, they can learn from you but do it too soon and it’s just going to make them feel inadequate.
Also resist launching into a detailed post-sex critique. Even if it’s positive, a simple ‘That was amazing’ is enough. You don’t want them to think you’re scoring them every step of the way.
It’s remarkably easy to teach an inexperienced lover new skills – with one proviso.
They have to be open to being taught.
If they aren’t, that’s a whole new ballgame. But if they are, the prognosis for this one is a definite…
This often walks hand in hand with inexperience.
In which case, it’s simply a matter of you taking them by the hand and introducing them to all the delicious and varied things on offer.
If the missionary position is their default, it might be because that’s the only way they’ve done it, so the only position they feel confident in.
Sexual insecurity is more common than you think: even people who come across as confident lovers can secretly be ‘spectatoring’.
This is when you’re so busy analysing and judging your performance during sex – often imagining what you look like - you can’t relax or enjoy it.
Is it any wonder they’re scared to step outside their comfort zone?
Another, not so attractive reason, that they’re unadventurous is that they can’t be bothered making an effort.
In which case, skip straight to the section on selfish lovers.
THEIR ATTITUDE TO SEX IS VERY DIFFERENT TO YOURS
This often happens if you both come from different cultural or religious backgrounds where sex is viewed by one as a fun, recreational activity and by another as procreation.
This can (obviously) cause huge problems but if your communication skills are good, you both respect each other’s beliefs and are willing to compromise, it’s certainly not unsolvable.
Not easy, but not a guaranteed deal breaker.
Finding out your partner has a history of sexual abuse is another reason why your attitudes to sex might be different.
Again, if your partner is open to getting therapy or talking things through with you and you both take things slowly, there’s no reason why you can’t go on to have a satisfying, happy sex life.
Patience and communication are key here.
Verdict: Stay – if you’re both willing to work at it
Tracey advises considering how committed you are to each other, when deciding if you should stay in relationship with someone who has a very different sex drive (file image)
YOU BOTH HAVE DRAMATICALLY DIFFERENT SEX DRIVES
I’ve said this once and I’ll keep on saying it: when you’re choosing a partner, if you can possibly swing it, try really hard to choose one with the same sexual appetite as you.
Because mismatched libidos – one wanting sex way more or less than the other – can be a big problem for couples.
A trillion factors dictate whether we’re a high or low libido person: pressure and stress, medications, genetics, past history, our partner’s lovemaking skills, general health, any sexual traumas – all play a part.
Some people just don’t have terribly many sexual thoughts or fantasies.
They seriously could chat to the world’s sexiest person and come away thinking, “What a jolly nice person! Who’d have thought they also have problems with their golf swing!” while the rest of us have mentally undressed them, slammed them up against the nearest wall and had 20 orgasms before ‘Hello’ even escaped our lips.
Whichever camp you fall into is irrelevant: just make sure it’s the same one.
If your sex drives are dramatically unequal you are in for a rocky ride with friction and resentment around every corner.
The trouble is, our true ‘resting’ libido is artificially inflated at the start of a relationship - it’s only about nine months to one year in that it becomes apparent that there’s a problem.
There are things you can do to even things up – agreeing on a certain amount of times you’ll have sex and how long for is one way to solve it. (Search ‘mismatched libido’ on my website and you’ll find lots of other tried and true techniques.)
If you’re already madly in love and are both willing to compromise, stay.
But if you’re on the fence and it’s already causing issues, find someone who’s on the same page sexually.
Verdict: Depends on how committed you already are
THEY’RE SELFISH IN BED
They only ever look after themselves. Never check to see if you’ve enjoyed sex or had an orgasm. Sex is on their terms and their terms only. There’s zero after play and a pathetic amount of foreplay. They never reciprocate with oral sex. You’re the one doing the giving and all they do is take.
This is selfish sex – and it’s not acceptable.
If you’ve told your partner they’re not sexually satisfying you and they weren’t concerned and have done nothing to rectify the situation, they don’t care about you.
There is no other reason.
It’s obvious when someone is making an effort. They ask questions, they watch to see if you’re getting aroused, they check on you both during and after sex to check it’s all working for you.
If your partner does none of this, there is only one way out of this.
Verdict: Leave.. Immediately
What happened to having an affair?
You didn’t honestly expect me to condone that option, did you?
Affairs are never the answer. An open relationship might be though: it’s the more honest option.
The bottom line to all of this: communicate your needs.
If you’ve done that and your partner’s still ignoring them, you’re better off without them.
Great Sex Starts at 50: How to age-proof your libido (£12.99, Murdoch Books) is available from all online retailers and at all good bookshops. It is also available in ebook.