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Sex Can Destroy a Relationship

By Barrington H. Brennen, September 22, 2016, 2023

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Many find it difficult to understand that sex at the wrong time can destroy friendship, romantic relationship, and even a marriage.  Even saying “I love you” at the wrong time can be equally destructive to a romantic relationship.  First of all, this article is neither about pre-marriage sex nor adultery.   What then am I talking about?   It is simply about bad timing and the importance of being patient.


Imagine two individuals who are great social friends who are enjoying each other presences, sharing ideas and time together, but one thinks it is the time to say “I love you.”   This is when saying “I love you” can seriously change the direction of the relationship.  When one partner does not view the relationship as a romantic one or may not think they are ready to take the next step, then when the other says “I love you” it is then premature and destructive.    One should not be anxious to express these words.    The truth is “I love you” is to be said without word first.    The non-verbal cues, the body language, the conversations, the heartwarming expressions are to be “felt” before they are spoken.  If you haven’t said “I love you” without words, the words will make so sense.    Likewise, if you haven’t given flowers without flowers, the actual flowers will make so sense. 


When one in the relationship expresses feelings of love prematurely it confuses the other person and often times stifle future communication and interaction.  I have actually seen healthy relationships destroyed because of this.  The one who was just having a good time and not even thinking about romance now does not know how to act in the presence of the one who is the “lover.”   What causes this?    Sometimes is it simply that one has a different need than then other.    Whether it is a need to have sex, get married, or just have a partner, that need may propel the relationship towards a slippery sloop of unhappiness and bewilderment.   The great gift one can give in a relationship is the gift of time.  


What about sex?   Similarly, when a romantic couple is enjoying the direction of the relationship but one wants to take the relationship to another step without the spontaneous involvement of the other, this is when sex usually destroys a relationship.    The one who is not expecting nor really wanting the sex at that time might give in because he or she does not want to lose the partner.     However, when it is over, they discover that feelings have changed.  Expectations are cloudy.  Thoughts are muddy. 


Here is the punch line of this article.  Having sex or saying “I love you” at the wrong time destroys objectivity—even in marriage.  The person cannot think clearly.  Persons who engage in heavy sex before a committed partnership (marriage) usually have difficulty thinking objectively about the relationship.  Questions like “Is this the one for me” or “Can I be happy with this person” have been wiped out of the minds.   Some feel compelled to stay in the relationship because they have invested too much of themselves.    Some feel a sense of obligation.   How can you step back and take a look at the relationship if you are deep inside it.   That is what premature “I love you” or sex at the wrong time can do.


What about marriage and sex at the wrong time.  Is there such a thing?  Yes there is.   When there is a serious emotional distance between partners in a marriage and one of the partners insist on having sex when the other is not ready, it can distort objectivity.   Often the one who is insisting thinks all is okay so “I do not have to change.”    This is when sex stifles growth and blocks clarity. 


It is very important that individuals be patient when developing a relationship and in the healing of a wounded a relationship.   Do no rush to have sex.  Do not rush to kiss.   Here are a few concepts I will repeat.   If you haven’t kissed before you lips touched, the kissing will not be right.  If you haven’t said “I love you” without words yet, the words will make no sense.   If you haven’t given flowers without the flowers before, then the flowers will make no sense.   If you haven’t hugged your partner with your heart first, the hugging will make no sense.


Here is what relationship expert Janet Zimmerman said about moving too fast. 

“But both conventional wisdom and experience show that having sex too soon increases the likelihood of ruining a potential relationship. Yet if you've fallen into the sticky trap of sleeping with someone too soon, even knowing that it's not in your best interest, you may have: Gotten caught up in the moment, Mistaken sexual chemistry for more than what it is, Craved intimacy, Had sex for validation after a break up or a dry spell, Used sex as leverage, Felt pressured and wanted to please the guy, Believed you could have a no-strings-attached relationship, only to later want a real boyfriend-girlfriend relationship, Thought you were the exception. . . But if you want a real, long term and committed relationship, having sex too soon sends the wrong signal to the guys you date.”

Enjoy each other now.  Have a great foundation of friendship.   You will discover that you sex drive one day may diminish and what you will have is the friendship and love for one another.   Take the time.   Make haste slowly.




Barrington H. Brennen, MA, NCP, BCCP, JP, is a marriage and family therapist. Send your questions or comments to question@soencouragement.org,  or write to P.O. Box CB-11045, Nassau, The Bahamas, or visit www.soencouragement.org  or call 242-327-1980 or 242-477-4002.








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