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Is it OK to Cheat if You Are in a Sexless Relationship?

It can happen in almost any relationship. You reach a point where the sex just drops off to nothing. But our need for sex stays the same generally. If that’s where your relationship is, is it ok to cheat if you are in a sexless relationship?

It is definitely not OK to cheat on a spouse even if there is little to no sex happening. That does not mean just accepting a sexless relationship. But an affair could potentially destroy the relationship. And even an undiscovered affair will leave the cheater riddled with guilt.

And if children are in, it will damage them for years to come.

Ultimately, there’s just no excuse for cheating. The right way to handle the situation involves being clear, direct, and kind with your partner. You don’t have to settle for a low or no-sex relationship. But it’s crucial for the relationship and your own mental health to address it the right way.

But there’s a lot more to say about affairs, sexless marriages, and whether or not an affair will destroy your marriage. So let’s look at some follow-up questions everyone trapped in a sexless marriage might have.

Is it ok to have an affair if you are in a sexless marriage?

It’s never OK to cheat on a spouse, even in a sexless marriage. It will always be better for the marriage and the mental health of both spouses to first try and fix the underlying issue. If the spouse can’t or won’t change, despite repeated attempts, then divorce is a better option than an affair.

There is no justification for cheating, ever. I say that, not proudly, as someone who did cheat on my wife back in early 2013.

I was also cheated on in a previous relationship. So I’m in the unique position of understanding both sides of the coin.

People who do use a sexless marriage as justification for cheating often point to the spouse withholding sex as being equally guilty of harming the marriage.

I’m not sure I completely disagree.  Intentionally withholding sex for an extended period of time is an incredibly damaging thing to do to the person you supposedly love the most.

But as I look back to the time I cheated on my wife in 2013, I told myself a number of reasons and excuses why what I was doing was OK.

But in the end, I had to admit that there was nothing my wife was doing or not doing that justified it. My actions were a complete betrayal of our marriage vows. It destroyed her trust and faith in me. It also could have potentially irreparably damaged our family.

In short, as the saying goes, two wrongs don’t make a right.

Whatever the issues in your marriage, cheating is not the answer. Remaining in a sexless marriage isn’t the answer either. So as we go further into this article, we’ll explore the solutions to that.

One thing my wife and I did in 2013 after deciding to stay together after my affair, was dedicating ourselves to rekindling our marriage. That came right on the heels of my wife saying something devastating.

She said while she still loved me, she wasn’t sure she was still in love with me.

I wrote about everything we did to turn our marriage around in this article which includes the 1 thing that really made a bigger difference than anything else.

Can a sexless marriage survive?

A sexless marriage can survive. But, unfortunately, the success rate for a sexless marriage is much lower it is for other marriages, and the overall divorce rate is already 50%. So rather than accepting a sexless marriage, the couple should work together, with a therapist if necessary, to fix the issue.

Recent data tells us that 15% of all marriages are sexless. By “sexless” I mean couples that haven’t had sex in at least 6 months and don’t have sex more than twice a year).

Having been married twice and in serious long-term relationships an additional 2 times, I can tell you that it’s normal for the frequency of sex to ebb and flow.

Life happens, careers grow, stress increases, and if you add kids to the mix, that creates a whole other scenario for cutting into our sex life.

If you then add on top of all that any underlying childhood issues tied to trauma, neglect, or abuse, then those things will make your sex problems even worse. Ironically, for those who suffered abuse as a child (physical or emotional), the sex drive often decreases as a relationship gets more serious.

But if you’re wondering specifically as to the odds of a sexless marriage surviving, I recently wrote an article that dives into that fully, including the surprising statistics for that leading to divorce.

So just click that link to read it on my site.

How to survive a sexless marriage without cheating

If you are in a sexless relationship, here are the steps to take to save your marriage and avoid cheating:

  • Think about the big picture – this is especially important if you have kids
  • Celebrate the things about your marriage that are strong
  • Focus on appreciating your spouse for who they are
  • Talk about your feelings, but avoid blame or expectations of your spouse
  • Seek marriage counseling – even on your own if they won’t go
  • Talk about the issue openly & honestly but without accusations
  • Avoid putting yourself in situations where you would be tempted to cheat – avoid meetups with co-workers and bars
  • Talk about other sexual activities your spouse might be OK with aside from intercourse – after all, there are a lot of things couples can do together for sexual pleasure

Cheating is a choice. And luckily for us higher-brained primates, we can make a different choice any time we want to.

If you’re thinking about cheating because you’re in a sexless relationship you have 2 problems that need to be dealt with:

  • Curbing your desire to cheat (and eliminating compromising positions or places)
  • Fixing your sexless marriage for the long-term

If cheating is something you’re actively considering or are even talking with another person about, just take a moment to consider all the ramifications.

The affair could certainly lead to divorce. If you have kids, it will destroy their world. But it also destroys you. Because in the aftermath, only the most heartless and socio-pathic won’t feel an overwhelming sense of guilt.

With any big decision you’re facing, think about how it potentially alters your life 5-10 years down the road. If you see no impact on your future years from a decision, then just make it.

But if you see some huge potential downsides, as you would with an affair, then it’s worth not making a rash decision.

It’s also not worth putting yourself in compromising places (like at a bar after work with attractive co-workers). It’s certainly a bad idea to make a decision under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

So change your routine after work, take a break from drinking (my wife and I both quit for about 3 years around the time of my affair), and even stop hanging out with certain friends who might be a bad influence.

Focus on being the best version of yourself and then set about fixing the real problem in your marriage.

If you or your spouse is wondering if you should stay married after an affair, I dove deep into this topic in a recent article where I outline exactly how to figure that out and I got some surprising answers from 6 noted marriage experts.

Just click the link to read it now on my site.

How do I revive my sexless marriage?

As for your sexless marriage, this is ultimately the real issue.

It’s very unlikely your marriage has always been sexless. So what you need to do now is figure out what changed and how to fix it.

It’s crucial though to avoid:

  • Making accusations to your spouse
  • Guilting them into having sex
  • Making them feel bad about themselves

After all, this is the person that supposedly means the most to you in this world and something is wrong. So why wouldn’t you want to address is in a kind loving way that lets them know you support them?

So ask questions and avoid making grand statements.

Do let them know how you feel. But focus on your feelings and not on what they are doing to cause those feelings. If you let them feel safe they won’t be on the defensive. Then they will be more apt to talk to you about what’s really going on.

Why people choose to not have sex with their partner varies, but some of the top reasons include:

  • Not feeling attracted to their partner anymore (which could be tied to hygiene, significant weight gain, or a general lack of attention to appearance)
  • For men, it could definitely be erectile dysfunction. That’s incredibly embarrassing for guys to talk about or admit, so avoiding sex is definitely a way some guys deal with it
  • For women, it could be hormonal changes or feeling bad about their body following childbirth. Of course, it goes without saying that immediately after birthing a child, for at least 6 weeks, women will not want to have sex. So guys do need to be understanding there.
  • For some, the partner withholding sex may be having an affair themselves. It’s not the most common reason by far, but sometimes the spouse not having sex IS having sex with someone else. But don’t assume this is the reason unless you are seeing other signs of it.

If you have already cheated once, but you and your spouse are working on fixing things, rebuilding trust is crucial!

I recently wrote an in-depth article that goes over all the steps you need to take to prove you won’t cheat again, including the 1 mistake almost all cheaters make in trying to rebuild trust.

Are infidelity rates higher when your wife won’t sleep with you?

Infidelity rates don’t tend to increase because of being in a sexless marriage. About 15% of couples are in a sexless relationship, and cheating occurs about 20% of the time, more with men than women. But that need to cheat is driven more by culture, testosterone levels, and ego more than a lack of sex at home.

Now we’ll look at the infidelity rates of sexless couples. But first, let’s first understand how many people cheat in relationships, to begin with:

  • 10-15% of women cheat on their spouses
  • 20-25% of men cheat on their spouses

As we mentioned above, about 15% of all couples are in a so-called sexless marriage or relationship.

Ironically though, the data doesn’t seem to support the idea that someone in a sexless relationship might cheat more.

Dr. Kenneth Rosenberg, addiction psychiatrist and the author of the book ” Infidelity: Why Men and Women Cheat” (click the link to see it on Amazon) notes the following as the biggest reasons men and women cheat:

  • Biology – specifically higher levels of testosterone or those more impacted by their dopamine reward system
  • Psychology – Narcissistic, ego-driven, thrill-seeking, and self-destructive behavior patterns
  • Culture – While men cheat more than women, Rosenberg notes “Women who are more educated are more likely to cheat” and he goes on to note that more women in the workforce today compared to prior decades has caused a 50% increase in cheating among women.

In a recent article, I compiled an amazing list of all the Infidelity Recovery Statistics, so check those out and see what your odds are.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

Final Thoughts

In this article, we took a look into the world of adultery and cheating.

Specifically, we explored sexless relationships and how that might be a reason some people cheat. And we looked at whether a lack of intimacy was justification for having an affair.

Ultimately, we answered the question is it ok to cheat if you are in a sexless relationship, with a resounding no. Cheating is never justified.

Living in a sexless relationship isn’t the answer either, but as they say, 2 wrongs don’t make a right. So if you’re trapped in a sexless relationship, just know that the answer is NOT to have an affair. And if you just can’t fix things, have the decency to end the relationship instead of cheating.

But the answers ARE out there!

If you’re in a sexless relationship, how long has it been that way and why?

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Jeff Campbell