James Packer and Mariah Carey NEVER had sex… What does it say about their 18-month relationship?

It’s estimated 10-20 percent of couples are in a sexless relationship for various reasons. While we can only speculate about James and Mariah, we asked a psychologist and a sex coach for their observations on sexless relationships and whether they’re anything to worry about. 

You might remember Mariah Carey and James Packer were engaged. You probably remember that ring, coming in at a cool $13 million. But like so many high-profile flames before them, theirs was a love short-lived, and now pop icon Mariah has revealed the couple never had sex over the course of their 18-month romance.

“We didn’t have a physical relationship, to be honest with you,” she told The Guardian recently.

While on the surface that might be cause for concern, psychologist and relationships expert Briony Leo says it actually shouldn’t be anything to worry about. In fact, 10-20 percent of couples are estimated to be in a ‘sexless relationship’ for various reasons.

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“It’s good to remember that some couples are fine with lack of sex since for them, the relationship is more functional and about emotional or other support,” she says.

In the case of billionaire James and oh-so-extra Mariah, their relationship may have been more about “companionship and lifestyle” than it was sex, Leo says.

“The fact that they were together for a while indicates that the relationship and dynamic was enough,” she observes.

Sex coach Georgia Grace agrees, saying that every relationship is different.

“What I’m interested in is whether it is a concern for the couple. How fulfilled do they feel – in their body and in their relationship?” she says.

On the flip side, there are couples who do find a sexless relationship problematic, whether it’s physical—pain or lack of arousal—or emotional, such as trauma, anxiety, or lack of trust.

After all, touch, as Grace observes, is a powerful sense.

“Touch is a powerful oxytocin-releasing activity and lowers your defenses and makes your trust people more, strengthen emotional bonds with self and others,” she says.

“This helps you feel closer to your romantic partners on a neurological level.”

The lack of touch, therefore, can create conflict and exacerbate trust issues.

“Sometimes infidelity can be the result if one partner has a very low sex drive,” Leo notes.

The good news is that most barriers to a physical relationship can be resolved with a trip to your health practitioner, and apps like OMG Yes, and even literature like Come As You Are, written by former sex educator Emily Nagoski, can assist with emotional hurdles.

“If it’s a physical issue, then a GP visit and then specialist help can make a big difference, particularly for issues like arousal and pain,” she says.

“Sexual issues can be hard to discuss and get help for, but the good news is that there is a lot of treatment available and most of it works really well.”

Grace also offers up some advice for couples who find themselves in an unintentional sexless relationship.

“Good communication skills can get you through most relationship issues,” she says.

“Don’t sweep it under the rug, instead talk about why you’re not being physically intimate and what you want and need in the way of touch and intimacy.”