Most people asking the question “How often do couples have sex”, are either curious, or at odds with their partner’s preferred frequency, wondering what is normal or optimal.
The frustrating but accurate answer is, it depends.
The range of normal sexual behavior is extremely broad! It differs from person to person, but also for one person. Many personal and external variables impact habits and decisions about sexual frequency. These include but are not limited to libido, age, beliefs, chemistry, diet, hormone cycles, and whether we have one or more partners.
When it comes to couples, it is difficult to dictate a “should.” The conflict about sexual frequency happens when partners disagree or have mismatched desires, not from the actual number of times you’re doing it. There are loving, affectionate couples who haven’t had sex for years, and there are “sexless marriages” where the couple still does it once a month.
The right amount of times for sex is usually the number the couple agrees on, whether it is twice a year or twice a day. That said, there are some common sense guidelines that can help regulate any timing discord or discrepancies between you.
Sexual Frequency: How Much Sex Is Right
Sex is important, necessary, and essential.
Sex is a human right and consenting to be part of a long-term romantic relationship means sharing sex, for most couples.
There are exceptions, of course—many couples start out with eventual sex in mind but are waiting for a while, maybe waiting for marriage. These terms will be laid out early on and agreed to.
Individuals also go through health or psychological changes where sex is not a priority or impossible. They may be going through chemotherapy, for example, or separated from each other geographically.
And some couples have one or more partners who are asexual or who have lost interest due to medication or life circumstances, and they are mutually happy to avoid sex. They may have an arrangement for one partner to seek outside sex, or they may both find lowered or absent libidos don’t detract from loving non-sexual contact and affection.
But overall, most relationships involve sex, and both or more partners need and deserve sex and it is an essential part of a love relationship.
Frequency changes over the course of a relationship.
Everyone knows this—sex is wildly exciting when you first fall head over heels with someone. You are certifiably crazy in this stage, in a chaotic cloud of chemicals that keep you touching and desperate all the time. Newlyweds or new couples may do it multiple times a day if they are together, and they probably avoid all kinds of other important aspects of life because the sexual need to be together is all consuming.
It’s not realistic to expect that sex be as frequent or as wild after twenty years together. Love finds other expressions and life has many rewarding tasks and events, both shared and independent, and having sex morning, noon, and night would get in the way of a complete life at this point.
Studies show ranging averages for sex frequency.
Again, stating a number doesn’t really work, but as a point of reference, it can be noted that numerous studies point to two to seven times a month as “normal.”
One large study, of 20,000 couples, found that about a quarter have sex once a week, with most reporting one to two times a month.
Another large study found that twentysomething couples averaged once a week, and upwards of that, a couple times monthly.
The vast majority of couples did not do it daily or in high frequency for very long, but zero or seldom sex was also limited to the extremes.
Have compassion for each other’s life circumstances, and sexual needs.
Navigate your partner’s loss or lowered libido with compassion. If she is caring for a sick parent or suffering pain she may not feel horny very often. Don’t be selfish.
On the other hand, sex is important and expecting a partner to go without for long is cruel.
Find out what’s holding you back from more sex.
Resentment can grow and destroy a relationship if you just stop having sex or put out miserably. It can be hard to talk about difficulties in the relationship and harder to resolve them, but there’s usually a reason behind a sudden, big change in sex frequency.
This is an opportunity to practice empathy, intimacy, and vulnerability, and grow in a relationship, as well as to restore your sex life or improve it. In other situations, one party may have to accept a delay or drought—if a partner is ill or going through hormone changes like menopause, slowing down may be a necessary move.
Often the reasons for loss of desire are emotional disconnect, so resolving them will put your sex life back on track. The issues may not be easy to fix, however—maybe she realized you were having an affair, and now she just doesn’t feel close enough to make love. Maybe you are having difficulty accepting aging, or no longer feel attracted to your lover. There are many variables, and they are seldom easy to navigate.
The best number to land on is compromise.
The party who wants the least sex is always right, right? No, the party who wants the most must be accommodated, yes?
Loving couples will try to accommodate the horny partner sometimes and the partner with a lowered libido at other times.
You are both right: if you find it unrealistic to make love to her twice a day when you’re always at work, you have a point. But if she complains you never touch her, she’s right too.
Work out specifics—how often would you want it, ideally, at this stage in your life together? Balance that with the reasonable range of national averages, once a month to twice a week, and find a place to meet in between. Meet in the middle.
Change your idea of sex, too. If she’s avoiding it because it hurts, be open about non-penetrative play. Prioritize your partner’s pleasure instead of being demanding and resentful. Let your love evolve. Find ways to accommodate change and desire.
Care to share how much sex you and yours have? Please leave a comment!