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Sex, something we enjoy, that brings us not only physical pleasure but the emotional connection to our partners, can be more complex than one would assume. Sex is something that should be fun, passionate, playful, creative, and intimate. Sex requires trust because sex is vulnerable. Sex shouldn’t involve fear, abuse, and certainly shouldn’t be without consent. The trouble is, sex is nuanced. There are playful games of power dynamics at play. So when does healthy fun and playful sex start bordering controlling and unwanted? 

Most people might assume that this article isn’t needed, but even though a good amount of couples can and have a healthy sex life, that doesn’t mean all couples have a healthy sex life.



Healthy Sex

What is healthy sex? Healthy sex is sex that makes you feel good (both physically and emotionally), can make you feel empowered, loved, cared about, and desired. 

Signs of healthy sex:

  • Two-way communication
    • Share your fantasies with each other. Tell each other the things that do not turn you on, and definitely talk about the things that are not tolerable in your sex life. Also, talk about the 5 Sex Languages. Dr. Doug Weiss wrote the 5 Sex Languages book to help couples learn what each other enjoys and wants during sex. A great purchase to get to know your own desires and your partners!
  • Connection
    • Sex doesn’t always have to be about emotional connection, sometimes just the physical pleasure is what is appropriate at the time. But sex with emotional connection enhances physical pleasure for most. That feeling of trust, safety, and desire all heightened your own pleasure. 
  • Safety
    • Safety means mentally, emotionally, and physically. One type of sex that is safe for one might not be for another, so this goes back to communication. Healthy sex means that both partners feel safe.
  • Compromise
    • Most couples do not match with sex drives. I know lots of men might assume the woman has the lower drive, but that isn’t the case anymore. There are lots of women out there whose drives outdo their man’s drive. So many women these days complain about a sexless marriage, or a man who refuses sex with them and rather jerk off to porn because it’s “easier.” So when it comes to sex drives both parties should feel that their needs are being met, or at least that their partner wants to meet their needs. 
      • This can be tricky though. No one wants to put pressure on the lower sex driven person and have them have unwanted sex (aka rape). So maybe talking about what would put the lower sex drive partner in the mood would be a good starter. Some people just might not want sex because they haven’t been sufficiently turned on. 



Unhealthy Sex

Unhealthy sex might seem obvious to some, but there are many people out there who do not understand consent, nor understand the nuances of sex. 

Signs of Unhealthy Sex:

  • One-sided
    • I can’t tell you how many women I’ve heard saying sex is one-sided in their marriages or relationships, that the men just seem to want an orgasm. That is very sad. Sex should be about both people getting pleasured, not one person serving another’s needs (unless the couple has agreed to have sex on occasion for one person’s pleasure, and another time for the other’s pleasure).
  • Secrecy/Lack of Communication
    • Sex should be shared with your partner. Sex shouldn’t be something you keep from them (again unless both parties agreed to a marriage with minimal/no sex). 
  • Outside of the Marriage
    • Sex should be inside the marriage unless you agreed to an open marriage. “Outside the marriage” might mean different things to different people. To some that might mean no porn, to others it might mean no porn unless we watch together. Lots of men assume that their porn usage in their single years can continue in relationships and in marriages. That isn’t always the case, so talking with your partner about porn and fantasies is a very important part of your sex life. 
  • Doesn’t Respect Boundaries (AKA “I said no”)
    • If your partner doesn’t listen to you when you say, “I really am not comfortable with X” and they insist, force, or coerce you to do X, that is very unhealthy and controlling. Boundaries in sex should be respected. Some people can do a position no problem, and for others, they might not like that position, it might hurt, or possibly if they’ve experienced sexual abuse it may trigger them. This again goes back to communication. If a partner says, “I don’t want to do X”, “No”, “Stop” or even has the body language that shows they’re uncomfortable, things should stop right there. It doesn’t matter if they are about to climax, if you say, “Stop” they should stop, not finish. 
      • Along with not respecting boundaries comes sexual assault and rape. Yes, you can be assaulted and raped in marriage. It does happen. If this is the case, it’s your choice on what you do to move forward from that, but by all means, do get to a safe place if that is where your marriage is right now. Sexual assault and rape happen in marriage. Until the 1970’s it was legal to rape your spouse. Only in the 1990’s was rape outlawed in all 50 states. So please, do get help.