In response to my last Q&A (check it out here), a friend messaged me expressing her surprise, curiosity, and disappointment in one of the things I wrote:
On some level, I agree with Dr. Chris Donaghue, author of the book Sex Outside the Lines: Authentic Sexuality in a Sexually Dysfunctional Culture (2015) that “Sexual compatibility is the most important attribute for relational success, coming before psychological, emotional, and social compatibility.” So, I guess what I’m saying is that… (in case you missed it), a couple can still be compatible psychologically, emotionally, and socially. [Though] Sexual compatibility is, in fact, “the most important attribute for relational success,” you don’t want to break off a relationship that is working in every other area.
To be fair, it didn’t stop with just that one friend. Before the the night was over, four other people had read the article and messaged me saying how unhappy they were that I included Donaghue’s statement. All were women, if that matters, and all of them asked me to clarify the distance between Donaghue’s statement and the “level” on which I agreed.
While I went on to say a few other things in that article, I knew when I included Dr. Donaghue’s statement that it would be considered controversial. I want to reiterate that on some level, I agree with Dr. Chris Donaghue’s position on the importance of sex, that in no way am I minimizing the importance of the other areas of a relationship and relational compatibility. Psychological, emotional, and social attributes are certainly important and, I feel, outweigh sex especially when they are combined. That is, if I said “sexual compatibility takes up 26% of importance in a relationship,” that is still a majority or the “most important attribute” compared to the other three areas named here (psychological, emotional, and social). It certainly is not the primary part of a relationship. This is why you see so many couples who have been together for a long time age into a very comfortable, familiar, even stronger and healthier form of relationship even though their sexual interest and activity has declined – they have invested time and energy in other areas that supersede without diminishing the importance of the sexual.
At base, this website is about sexuality and the city – not psychological health or social health and the city. Without excluding these other very important factors, I do not want to diminish the role of sexuality and sexual expression in a relationship because it is very important. There’s enough of that on other sites, enough articles saying not having sex is okay, that what’s important is the relationship. Those kinds of statements – that emphasize “relationship” while minimizing “sex” don’t seem to be discussing a real relationship.