Sex should never be contractual. I have seen far too many cases where sex is in fact tit for tat. Sex should always be a consensual agreement between two people. Sex should never be used as a means for keeping a relationship together or a way to get something else.
Although this article may seem to be presented through a heteronormative lens, it is not an issue that is exclusive to heterosexual couples. I think that many issues surrounding sexuality and relationships can seem linear when, in fact, they are not.
Commitment and Sex
Commitment does not necessarily equate to sex or sexual favours. It is okay to say no to someone you are in a relationship with – monogamous or not. This fact is constantly overlooked in modern Western relationships. There is an automatic standard for both partners to “put out” once exclusivity is involved. However, there is no actual requirement for what you need to do once you are in a committed relationship, thus you should not feel pressured to perform any acts that you are uncomfortable with. This rule of thumb can be applied to any aspect of a relationship, but is of primary importance in relation to sex.
If your significant other makes it seem like you are obligated to perform sexually for them, please understand that this is not the case. Regardless of your relationship status, you are still an independent individual with your own feelings, desires and needs. If you feel uncomfortable raise your voice; if you do not feel comfortable voicing your fears and emotions to your partner, it might be time to rethink the health and longevity of your relationship. If your partner does not legitimately account for and think about your concerns they are not the one for you.
The Prostitution of Partners
I use the term prostitution not necessarily for material gain or monetary advancement, albeit this could be the case in certain situations. Sometimes one partner will perform sexual favours in order to get something in return, therefore prostituting themselves in a way. For example, perhaps you think that having sex with your partner will make them feel affection or love towards you, even though you don’t really want to have sex.
The point of this article is to ensure everyone that you don’t need to have sex in any sort of situation if you do not want to. Sex should always be something that all parties want. I want to also assure you that sex will not magically fix your failing relationship because at one point I too thought that was the case.
At this point I would like to credit the inspiration behind the title and the entire article to Dylan Garity, whose poem “Friend Zone” puts this problem beautifully into words better than I ever could.