BY Cory Stieg
So sorry to disappoint anyone who’s thirsty for this information, but there really isn’t a “normal” amount of sex to have when you’re in a relationship, because there’s no such thing as “normal” — especially when it comes to relationships.
A handful of studies have examined how often people have sex based on their age, and determined that younger people (technically around 18-29 years old) tend to have sex four or more times per week, which is more than older age groups. But that doesn’t mean that more is better. A large 2015 study showed that couples who have sex once a week are the happiest, and other studies confirmed that even if couples have sex more frequently, it doesn’t increase their happiness. So, what we can glean is that there’s really no such thing as a “normal” amount, because everyone is different. And yet, so many people stress out about how much sex they’re supposed to be having.
This tension can be attributed to the fact that most of us have grown up with messages about “what makes a relationship good,” says Myisha Battle, a certified sex coach in San Francisco. “The problem is that sometimes ‘healthy’ is interpreted as having lots of sex,” she says. Humans are curious creatures by nature, so if you hear that someone else is having more sex than you are, you assume that means they’re “better” than you, she says.
So many people get caught up in making sure that they’re having sex “right,” says Rachel Wright, MA, LMFT, a psychotherapist in New York City. “And really, there is no ‘right.'” The only important factor that you need to be concerned about is how often you want to have sex with your partner, she says. For some people, that might be tricky to articulate, too, because we have so many preconceived notions about what we’re supposed to be doing. It’s worthwhile to work on telling your partner what you need, because communication is key.
Once you and your partner are on the same page about how often you want to have sex, then remember that the number will change along with your relationship, Battle says. “We can become a bit nostalgic for the beginnings of relationships where sex might have been more frequent,” she says. “Developing acceptance of the ebb and flow of sex within your relationship can be more satisfying in the long run.” Nothing is set in stone, in other words.
Finally, if there is a big “desire discrepancy” between you and your partner’s ideal sexual frequency, or even between you and a friend, it’s not the end of the world. “It helps to focus on finding a partner who prioritizes sex in a similar way to you and communicating with them when things may have gone off course,” Battle says. And that, like all things in relationships, can take time.
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