If you've been wondering about the health of your relationship, take a look at your sex life. If you and your partner have a good thing going, you probably feel fulfilled and connected almost every time you get in bed. But if it's been a bit rocky, or if you're having trouble communicating, then things likely won't be as fun.
While it's not a flawless system, your sex life can serve as a barometer for the health of your partnership. Not only is it a time to connect with your partner, but it's also a time to be vulnerable, to ask for what you want, and to try new things. And, of course, these are all things you should be able to do in a healthy relationship.
"Sex involves exploring bodies, communicating what feels good, and pleasure," NYC-based therapist Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW tells Bustle. "If a partner is struggling with other issues, having an enjoyable sexual experience is nearly impossible because their mind is preoccupied by negative thoughts either about themselves or the relationship." If this sounds familiar, it may be time to look into why you aren't having a good time. Below are a few more things your sex life can reveal — from the good, to the bad, to everything in between.
1. You Trust Your Partner And Feel Comfortable
While there are plenty of other ways to know your relationship has finally reached a stable place, a fun sex life is definitely one of them. "Being adventurous in bed can be a sign that you are open and comfortable," Hershenson says. "You and your partner trust each other and feel like you can share openly and honestly." And that means doing and trying new things, without feeling embarrassed.
2. Your Relationship Is Becoming A Chore
For busy couples, scheduling a romantic night can be a necessity. And that's totally OK. But if scheduled sex ends up being the only type of sex you have, take note. "Scheduled sex could be a sign that your relationship is becoming a chore and spontaneity is lacking," Hershenson says. If that's the case, it may be time to spice things up.
3. There's An Emotional Disconnect Going On
If you two aren't having any sex, take it as a warning sign. An infrequent or nonexistent sex life isn't healthy — unless, of course, that's the norm for you and it's not bothering anyone. If one or both of you wants to have sex, however, it may be a sign that there's an emotional disconnect and some work needs to be done.
4. Your Parter Doesn't Make You Feel Safe
While it's normal to feel a bit nervous about being naked and vulnerable in the beginning of your relationship, it's not a great sign if you're a few months in and still don't feel comfortable in bed. While this may be a sign you have some issues with self-esteem, Hershenson tells me it could also mean you don't trust your partner. Do they make you feel safe and loved? If not, nervousness and body image issues may not be far behind.
5. You're Craving Some Space
How closely you guys connect during sex can be pretty revealing, too. "Do you look at each other during sex? Closing your eyes and imagining a hotter scenario that you keep to yourself probably means that you're keeping some distance from your partner," says LA-based therapist and relationship expert Jane Reardon. While that's not always the case — because hey, there's nothin' wrong with fantasies — it may be a habit worth looking into.
6. You Might Be Better Off As Friends
Unfortunately, fantasizing about someone else, or feeling bored during sex, might also mean you're just not compatible. As Reardon says, "Unless both sides are willing to take a stab at stepping up the passion, you may want to reconsider this as a romantic relationship and try just being friends."
7. You're Actually Doing Pretty Great
Great sex can happen with pretty much anyone. But if you're having a wonderful time with your partner, take it as a healthy sign. "When a couple is in sync sexually, when their physicality comes from a true bond they have to one another, it speaks to a deep level of vulnerability that can only come from trusting each other and trusting the relationship," Reardon says. If this sounds familiar, you two are probably doing OK.
8. Your Partner Isn't Treating You Right
Your body has ways of telling you something's wrong, so if you ever feel weird or uncomfortable during sex, take note. "If you find yourself avoiding sex and your body shuts down by giving a physical 'do not enter' sign, it might indicate you are picking up something about your partner that has you feeling really uncomfortable," relationship expert Shirani M. Pathak, LCSW tells Bustle. Are they unhappy? Are they being emotionally abusive? It may be time to find out.
9. One Of You Isn't 100 Percent Happy
In the same vein, if you aren't having fun during sex, don't let it go on ignored. And again, remember to pay attention to those signs from your body. "It is actually one of the most powerful tools in letting us know something isn't right," Pathak says. "If your sex life isn't feeling good, it likely indicates a problem in the health of your relationship."
10. You've Both Gotten Out Of Sync
Your sex life can be quite telling in that it says a lot about your connection as a couple. As psychologist Dr. Nikki Martinez tells me, if sex goes from second nature to awkward and embarrassing, it may be you've gotten out of sync emotionally. So if things feel awkward, speak up.
11. There's Trauma You Can't Move Past
Sex makes a person highly vulnerable, and when you're in that state, all sorts of emotions can come to the surface. This is especially true if you've been through trauma with your partner, or if you guys have some unresolved issues. "If [your] sex life began well ... and it's gone downhill or reduced, then ... conflicts are likely causing distrust and a mental block on orgasming," relationship expert Heather Claus tells Bustle. Think that may be the case? If so, going to therapy may help you sort it out.
And so can talking to your partner. After all, you're both in this together. Paying attention to your sex life, or lack thereof, can be the start of some very important conversations.
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