Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews -- For those who like their news and truths frank and sharp

The (almost) sexless intimate relationship

Dedicated to Gen Z

A first disclaimer must be that people in a happy, close, steady, long-term sexual relationship by far not all are that sexual always. Even ‘normally’ frequent sex in an intimate relationship may be short and unpassionate. Its best part can be to remember how good it used to be, and it seems many people settle. Others try to ‘spice up’ the passion, but there are two ways to achieve this. You could try new things with each other. Some people also like to try new foods—while others prefer to always eat the same. Another option is to work on the relationship, rediscover each other, be passionate about each other again, and have sex play its part in that renewed contact.

There exist many arguments to opt for an intimate relationship without or with very little sex, and also many causes that could push this onto you against your expectations or will. Both categories are not uncommon.

You could choose a platonic relationship because you value it or expect it to work for you, and/or just to fit in when your homosexual preference is taboo (a so-called lavender marriage or marriage of convenience).

You may want no or little sex from the start because one or more of you dislikes sex (asexuality, demi-sexuality), fears sex, intimacy, or losing control, or feels inapt (lack of sexual education, exaggerated expectations), is traumatized around sex, finds it unethical (religious dogmas), finds it bad for the equality, doesn’t want to risk spoiling the friendship, has fine sex outside of the relationship with others or oneself, doesn’t make time or have energy for it, doesn’t long for it with this partner (‘incompatible’ sexual orientation, not ‘one’s type’), or in general (introvert, depression, chemical problems (hormones (sex change, pregnancy), medication, or recreational drugs (alcohol),) feels bad about it afterward, or wants to wait until the relationship is more stable (marriage?) or mature.

If this was what each partner initially wished for, how do you each find it now? Over time, you may see changes in how you each like it, what you think about it, and/or what you would prefer next. And when one or more partners want changes, what individual and joint options will emerge? Will you split up? Are you such good friends that you’ll continue platonically while each gets their sexual needs met outside of the relationship? Will you take therapy to see what could be done? Do you agree to just continue and think about it again in five years from now?

Or, to your surprise, partners may find themselves in a sexless or sex-rare relationship for now or seemingly for always, because one or more of the things mentioned above started playing, or pain at intercourse (for medical reasons, or because of lack of empathy, sexual knowledge, or experience), problems in the relationship (disappointment, anger, revenge, selfishness), a problematic motivation during sex (I should, s/he should, I don’t matter, s/he doesn’t matter), old emotional trauma surfacing, emotional problems between and/or not between the partners, physical problems (aging, physical illness, or health’s complications), partners not finding joint sex forms that work for each, fear or condemnation (religion, culture) to experiment or do other things than ‘normal’ intercourse, sexual problems (fear of impotence can give sexual ‘failure;’ premature ejaculation can be solved by going for seconds because then, climaxing will be much slower), a changed appearance (pregnancy, bodybuilding, weight changes, sex change, operations, age), a lack of friendliness, interest, or intimacy outside of sex times, worries, or finding it boring (no ‘spark’ anymore).

Less sex could threaten a relationship, or the opposite, a relationship going bad may show itself in less sex, as a warning. Sometimes, the focus on what would lead to an orgasm shifts more to emotional closeness, affection, listening, cuddling, and ‘foreplay’ instead of just going for climaxing. The partners may actually experience that as an improvement.

If it’s not what you originally expected or now wish for, you may ask how good and bad it is for each, and if not so good, if the relationship overall has enough potential to fight for and for how long, as far as you can see now. Or would you stay for emotional (for old-times’ sake, love, solidarity, fear of loneliness, or what others may think) or practical (financial, kids) reasons?

To bridge differences and incompatibility in needs, frequency, intensity, and style, try to avoid words like you, should, normal, always, never, and instead, use I need, I like, to try, and what would you need or appreciate? In any case, the way to be stuck is to not talk about it, and forget about it. It’s easier for many couples to just have sex, or not, than to speak about it.

In any case, when emotions (anger, shame, fear, etc.) have shut up one or more of the partners, talk-therapy seems often to help to admit to, face, and slowly solve the problems. Pharmaceutical treatment of (rare) physical problems or sidestepping (more common) emotional problems can quickly come via sildenafil (Viagra) ‘to solve’ erectile dysfunction of the penis, libido-enhancing drugs, and others. Sex education and physical therapy can help against pain during intercourse and fear or taboo to experiment.

If one or more partners are ambivalent about how to proceed, you may play out the different scenarios in your head or on paper or talk about it with a partner or an outsider. You could also list plusses and minuses for each option to get clear which option you like best. If you all agree, you could even play out each alternative for a week or a month and see how you like it. You could ask a mutually trusted person to help you negotiate. If other partners decided for or before you, you can still make up your own mind and try negotiating a change in what was presented as final by others. “What would help you change your mind or be more flexible?”

About the Author
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, previously a daily blog contributor to the TOI. He often makes his readers laugh, mad, or assume he's nuts—close to perfect blogging. He's proud that his analytical short comments are removed both from left-wing and right-wing news sites. None of his content is generated by the new bore on the block, AI. * As a frontier thinker, he sees things many don't yet. He's half a prophet. Half. Let's not exaggerate. Or not at all because he doesn't claim G^d talks to him. He gives him good ideas—that's all. MM doesn't believe that people observe and think in a vacuum. He, therefore, wanted a broad bio that readers interested can track a bit what (lack of) backgrounds, experiences, and educations contribute to his visions. * This year, he will prioritize getting his unpublished books published rather than just blog posts. Next year, he hopes to focus on activism against human extinction. To find less-recent posts on a subject XXX among his over 2000 archived ones, go to the right-top corner of a Times of Israel page, click on the search icon and search "zuiden, XXX". One can find a second, wilder blog, to which one may subscribe too, here: or by clicking on the globe icon next to his picture on top. * Like most of his readers, he believes in being friendly, respectful, and loyal. However, if you think those are his absolute top priorities, you might end up disappointed. His first loyalty is to the truth. He will try to stay within the limits of democratic and Jewish law, but he won't lie to support opinions or people when don't deserve that. (Yet, we all make honest mistakes, which is just fine and does not justify losing support.) He admits that he sometimes exaggerates to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quite a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * Sometimes he's misunderstood because his wide and diverse field of vision seldomly fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what some love about him. He has written a lot about Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (including basic statistics), Politics (Israel, the US, and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight reality), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, LGBTQIA+, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation), the Climate Crisis, Ecology and Veganism, Affairs from the news, or the Torah Portion of the Week, or new insights that suddenly befell him. * Chronologically, his most influential teachers are his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach, and, lehavdil bein chayim lechayim, Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff, and Rav Meir Lubin. This short list doesn't mean to disrespect others who taught him a lot or a little. One of his rabbis calls him Mr. Innovation [Ish haChidushim]. Yet, his originalities seem to root deeply in traditional Judaism, though they may grow in unexpected directions. In fact, he claims he's modernizing nothing. Rather, mainly basing himself on the basic Hebrew Torah text, he tries to rediscover classical Jewish thought almost lost in thousands of years of stifling Gentile domination and Jewish assimilation. (He pleads for a close reading of the Torah instead of going by rough assumptions of what it would probably mean and before fleeing to Commentaries.) This, in all aspects of life, but prominently in the areas of Free Will, Activism, Homosexuality for men, and Redemption. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, and disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed. He aims to bring a fresh perspective rather than harp on the obvious and familiar. When he can, he loves to write encyclopedic overviews. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds should be disputed. In short, his main political positions are among others: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, anti those who abuse democratic liberties, anti the fake ME peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, pro-Science, pro-Free Will, anti-blaming-the-victim, and for down-to-earth, classical optimism, and happiness. Read his blog on how he attempts to bridge any tensions between those ideas or fields. * He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (, born in 1953 to his parents who were Dutch-Jewish Holocaust survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork. He grew up a humble listener. It took him decades to become a speaker too, and decades more to admit to being a genius. But his humility was his to keep. And so was his honesty. Bullies and con artists almost instantaneously envy and hate him. He hopes to bring new things and not just preach to the choir. * He holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam) – is half a doctor. He practices Re-evaluation Co-counseling since 1977, is not an official teacher anymore, and became a friendly, powerful therapist. He became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years, he was active in hasbara to the Dutch-speaking public. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's a strict vegan since 2008. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. * His writing has been made possible by an allowance for second-generation Holocaust survivors from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. If you're a native English speaker and wonder why you should read from people whose English is only their second language, consider the advantage of having an original peek outside of your cultural bubble. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me. * His newest books you may find here:
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