How Much Sex Do We Really Need?
It's the age-old question that nearly every couple wonders among themselves. Are we having enough sex?
When the two of you first met, sex may have been an almost daily ritual where you couldn't keep your hands off of each other. As the years have passed, it's likely that the frequency has diminished a bit. It's also likely that as you've gotten more familiar with each other's bodies, the intensity and pleasure has increased.
But how much sex do you really need to remain happy in a relationship? In television and the movies, it seems like you should be hitting the sheets several times every day if you're “truly in love.”
But is that realistic? What does science have to tell us about the subject?
Let's take a look.
Factors That Impact Sexual Desire
Before getting started on pinpointing how much sex you really need, first it's imperative to understand the factors that drive or hinder a person's desire to have sex.
Some of these include:
- Preconceived sexual attitudes and beliefs
- Issues within the relationship
- Overall physical attraction
- Children and other family obligations
- Psychological issues such as anxiety and depression
- Issues with body image
- How you feel about your partner in the moment
- Lack of vaginal lubrication
- Hormonal changes
- Erectile Dysfunction
Any of these individual factors can impact how much sex you have with your partner. For example, a woman who has developed a negative body image may reject her partner's sexual advances simply because she doesn't find herself to be attractive at the moment. It probably has nothing to do with her attraction toward her partner.
Conversely, a man who's overwhelmingly physically attracted to his significant other might come on too strong on too regular of a basis for his spouse's taste. He might also be dealing with preconceived ideas about how much sex he should be having in the relationship based on unrealistic “locker room” conversations he's been having with friends.
When a couple has varying expectations of sexual frequency in a relationship, it can become a dangerous point of contention.
This is where the term “discrepant desire” comes into play.
What Is Discrepant Desire?
Often, the sexual frequency question arises within a committed relationship when one of the parties isn't as satisfied as the other in terms of how often they engage in sex. This discrepant desire level is quite common within marriages and committed relationships.
It's also common that both people in a relationship aren't pleased with sexual frequency or interaction. One partner might think they're not having enough sex, while the other partner feels like it's too often.
The reality, however, is that overall relationship satisfaction doesn't hinge on how often a couple has sex. Rather, committed couples should look closer at the quality of sex they enjoy together. This is significantly more important than the quantity.
What Does the Science Say?
There's no perfect research technique that flawlessly spells out every detail relating to marital or sexual satisfaction. Every experiment has its own design flaws or data collection anomalies that can taint results.
However, it's important to get a general baseline.
Generally speaking, research says that there's a decrease in sexual satisfaction and frequency the longer couples stay together. The frequency of sex also goes down when other external factors are put into play, such as:
- Chores around the house
- Relationship issues
Research also shows that divorce rates are directly correlated with sexual satisfaction and frequency. When sexual frequency and satisfaction goes down, divorce rates go up.
In 2015, a research firm published a study that involved over 2,400 married couples. The study did find that the more sex a couple was having, the happier they seemed to be. However, it's worth noting that the “happiness” capped out at around one sexual experience each week.
Is Once Per Week the “Sweet Spot?”
You may have heard of the law of diminishing returns. Basically it says that adding more employees to a job will get it done faster by increasing overall productivity. But this is only true to a certain point. After that point is hit, overall efficiency begins to drop.
The same principle applies to your sex life.
Having sex twice a month might not be enough for you. At the same time, having sex two or three times every week doesn't promote a further level of happiness.
In another study, committed couples were told to double their sex frequency for several months. The vast majority of these couples reported that they were no happier having double the amount of sex than they were having their usual amount.
In fact, these couples reported that with the increased frequency, they actually enjoyed each individual interaction less. As you can see, there can be a downside to having too much sex with your partner.
In reality, it's not really about the number of times you have sex. It's about the experience of each encounter that determines your sexual fulfillment.
Once-per-week sex has been shown to be the most satisfying for many married and committed couples.
Ways to Improve Your Sex Life
If your sex life is currently a challenge, there are steps you can take toward improving it.
First, take an account of how your relationship is outside of the bedroom. Are you emotionally intimate with your partner? Are you open with each other about thoughts and feelings? Without genuine emotional intimacy, it's nearly impossible to achieve solid physical intimacy.
To improve physical intimacy, learn each other's “love languages.” Then engage with your partner on those levels. Your partner may respond well to things like kind words, compliments, time together, kind acts, gifts, or favors. Find out what's most important to them in the relationship.
Remember, if your only love language is having sex you might want to take an internal account.
You can also improve your sex life by trying things such as:
- Scheduling time for sex
- Going on a mini vacation together
- Changing the location where you engage in sex
- Re-enact “dating sex”
Also remember that a man's testosterone levels are very high first thing in the morning. Morning sex can be a great way for many couples to begin a hectic day.
If none of these options seem to be working in your relationship, it might be time to schedule an appointment with a trained sex therapist. They can help you get to the bottom of what's causing problems in your sex life.
Getting Back on the Horse
If you've found yourself in the middle of a long-term sexual dry spell, sometimes all it takes to break out of it is to engage in sex again. You'll find your rhythm quickly. The hormones that bond you to your partner, such as vasopressin and oxytocin, will start flowing like the did in the past. If you need help with this consider trying one of the top male enhancement supplements on the market or even a penis pump.
Intimacy and sex are very intertwined. There are times when all it takes to get back on track is ending the excuses and engaging in sex again.
Just remember that it's not how often you have sex that's important. What's important is the quality of time you enjoy together when you're physically intimate.