#askthesexpert: how much sex should I be having?
"how often are real people having sex...when should I start worrying about my relationship??"
This is one of those questions that has both a simple answer and a complex answer. Good news bears, I'm going to give you both!
Unfort, even the simple answer isn't so simple. Average numbers vary tremendously depending on age, relationship and parental status, and also what is considered to be "sex." For example, if we're including all of the partnered activities that we can do to feel erotic pleasure and potentially reach orgasm (such as oral, anal or vaginal sex; mutual masturbation; phone or cyber sex - do people even say cyber sex anymore?; dry humping; heavy petting; etc. etc. etc.), the statistics would look different than if we're talking about plain old PVI (penile-vaginal intercourse). Even though considering only PVI is wildly heteronormative, research shows that behavior to be the one most widely understood as "having sex," so we will start there as a jumping off point. Different studies have found different results, but research from the highly respected Kinsey Institute that used a large number of participants found that, on average, couples were having sex anywhere between a couple times per month to a couple times per week.
DON'T STOP READING JUST YET!
I'm begging you not to do that thing we ALL do which is harmful yet so beyond easy to do and compare our own behavior and experience to an average of everyone else's collective experience.
Statistics are interesting and all, but they are also bullshit.
Your unique experience is made up of so much more than numbers and averages and data in a vacuum. So let's delve into a more complex response.
The reality is that life gets in the way of our ability to have sex - either in quality or in quantity - all of the time. Any sort of stress can impact our sex life: being busy with work or starting a new job, feeling financially strapped, not feeling close to your partner, having children, family death or illness, or a million other things. These stressors can make it difficult for us to find time for sex, and they can also impact our desire to want to have sex. So, the good news is that these are all normal parts of any relationship, especially in the long term. All relationships will experience stressors that will impact the amount of sex that is being had. There will be ebbs and flows. Over the course of a relationship that lasts several years or more, there will be periods of time when you experience more passion as a couple, and times when you experience less. ALL NORMAL!
However, we also know that this can be a bit of a cycle. Sometimes when we're having less sex than perhaps we did at one point, we may not feel as intimate or close with our partner. The decrease in feelings of intimacy could lead to decreased desire, and the cycle continues to perpetuate. In a circumstance like this, I usually recommend focusing on intimacy rather than sex itself. What are things that your partner does that make you feel close to them? Loved? Cared for? Thought of? Considered? Spending quality time with your partner without feeling pressured to have sex might increase feelings of closeness. Shifting your focus from PVI to being sensual through snuggling, massaging, touching, hand holding or kissing has been shown to strengthen intimacy. Compliments! Flirtation! Acts of service! All of these things can either a) maintain intimacy if engaging in sex isn't happening as often as it once was, and/or b) increase desire to engage in sex.
It also shouldn't go without saying that if you are feeling close and intimate with your partner even with an absence of intercourse, then fuck the statistics all together. It's more important to feel connected emotionally than to worry if you're "keeping up" with everyone else.
Because this topic is so complex, complicated and unique to everyone's individual situation, I offer both 1-on-1 and Couples Sex Coaching to assist you in navigating changes or frustrations with sex frequency.
The most important thing to remember is not to get bogged down by what everyone else is doing. Worry about what's working for your own relationship. Do you, boo boo!