A Sex Therapist Reveals the ‘Strange’ Myth Couples Should Forget

Every longtime couple goes through periods of intense passion and intimacy, followed by a sexual dryness.

Call it the curse of the seven year itch or just a natural consequence of monogamy, asexual relationships (however brief) can be tricky to navigate.

But that’s not always a bad thing, says Lovehoney’s psycho-sexologist Chantelle Otten.

Speaking to 9Honey, Otten says intimacy easily falls off couple radars because we often think that sex should always be “spontaneous and natural”.

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Chantelle Otten
Chantelle Otten says sex doesn’t always equal happiness in relationships. (Provided)

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Instead, Otten describes sex as something that takes “work, attention, and dedication.”

“Nobody tells us that we really have to work really hard on our sex life, and that it’s not going to be natural and spontaneous all the time,” Otten explains.

“If we can look back over the past five to 10 years, we can see that there has been a shift to more openly discussing sexual health and wellbeing and its importance.”

She adds, “I think that means people are focusing on their sex life and prioritizing it a little bit more. But you know what, we’re very busy people and we’re all doing our best.”

Doing things like expanding your definition of sex is important because sex is different for everyone.

Many couples worry that their sex life is an indicator of the quality of their relationship.

People might wonder if you’re not regularly intimate, does that mean your bond isn’t as strong as other long-term partners? According to Otten, that is certainly not the case.

She says not having sex is “perfectly okay” and it’s a myth that regular sex equals happiness.

“If they’re not having sex because they don’t want to have sex or it’s not a priority for them, then that’s fine,” Otten says.

Couple in bed having sex
Intimacy is only one facet of a successful relationship, explains Chantelle Otten. (Getty Images/EyeEm)

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“Because your libido is as individual as you are. So it’s important to understand your own eroticism and your own patterns.”

“Really good sex is just an indicator of good sex and sexual compatibility,” Otten adds. “Of course it can improve your relationship. But it doesn’t have to be there, it’s not the basis of a good relationship.”

While some couples are content that sex isn’t a priority, Otten has some advice for those who want to reinvigorate their sex life.

She says sex doesn’t always have to be traditional penetration. Broaden your mind and your sex life could benefit, advises Otten.

“It’s important to do things like expand your definition of sex because sex is different for every person. So it really can be anything under the sexual umbrella, it can be any form of kissing, d expression, touching or rubbing, kissing, masturbating together, or using toys, or leaning on each other,” she says.

“There are a lot of things you can do that may be different from your basic penis and vagina, penetrative sex, which we’re conditioned to have.”

Chantelle Otten
Chantelle debunked the myth that it’s not okay to masturbate in a relationship. (Provided)

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Last month was national masturbation monthand Otten is also a big proponent of personal pleasure, even if you’re in a long-term relationship.

She says it’s “weird” to think a person shouldn’t masturbate when they’re in a relationship.

“I think it’s weird that people think you shouldn’t masturbate in a relationship,” she admits.

“I can’t rely on my partner to give me everything all the time, because my partner is doing things and working and he’s not always available,” says Otten. “And maybe sometimes I don’t want him there either.”

“It’s super important. Take away that narrative that you shouldn’t do it if you’re in a relationship, because it’s silly and it won’t help your sexual relationship with your partner either.”

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