Let’s Reframe The ‘Am I Having Enough Sex?’ Question
In a Schitt’s Creek episode, Alexis convinces David that something is wrong with his relationship because he failed a romance quiz in a magazine. Instead of talking Patrick about his fears, David tells Patrick that Alexis and Ted’s relationship was on the rocks and they needed to have a double date and support them. The use of a ropes course where David and Patrick have this conversation was not lost me. This fear is common for a lot of people though and folks fall into the trap of comparing themselves to results from studies that analyze how much sex people are having, how much they think they should be having, and what the magic number per week is to maintain a happy and healthy relationship. The question shouldn’t be Am I having enough sex? Instead ask yourself, Am I satisfied with my sex life?
Let’s define “sex”
Before I continue I want to remind folks that sex is so much more than penis in vagina (PIV) intercourse. Sex can be any act of physical intimacy with yourself or a partner. Sex may not include penetration or an orgasm. Sex can be anything that works for you and your partner(s).
Jessa Zimmerman, M.A., an AASECT-certified sex therapist and marriage counselor says, “It’s not just about ‘getting it done’ or checking the box. The point of sex, from my point of view, is to share pleasure with your partner and to feel connected in the process, no matter what you do with your body parts and what the end result is.”
PIV sex should not be the default and anything that varies is valid—as long as it’s consensual.
Sex may not be part of your relationship
There are plenty of people who don’t want sex to be part of their intimate relationships. Asexual folks, for example, are capable of having sexual feelings but often don’t desire having sex with someone else. They can still be attracted and connected with one or more partner, but sex isn’t a part of their relationship or is very low on the list of needs. For demisexual folks, strong emotional connections need to be made before they can feel sexually attracted to someone else. People choose not to have sex for a variety of reasons.
What do you want?
If sex is part of your relationship and something you desire with someone else, Zimmerman reminds us that we need to throw out the word normal. “There is no ‘right’ amount of sex.” Are you satisfied with the amount of sex you have and with the pleasure you experience while having sex? Is your partner satisfied? If the answer is yes in both cases then carry on. Ignore what other people are saying or what studies find. Comparing what we do with our partner(s) to what others are doing to determine if our sex life is “good” or what it “should” be is stupid.
Therapists agree. Dr. Linda De Villers, a sex therapist and an adjunct professor of psychology and education at Pepperdine, says, “You should be sexual as often as both you and your partner feel good…If you can say it was satisfying and fulfilling, that’s how often you should be sexual.”
If you and/or your partner want more sexual intimacy in your lives then try to work in ways to find that connection. That’s easier said than done when kids are part of the equation, but it’s good to check in and see what’s holding you back from having more sex if that’s what you want. You may be on different schedules. Your libido may not match. You may not have the emotional bandwidth to be physical with someone. Talk to your partner(s) to figure out ways to reach a common goal of more connection.
Sometimes people explore open relationships or consensual non-monogamous relationships, but consent and communication are key to be sure all partners are getting their emotional and physical needs met. I’m not suggesting that frustration with your partner means polyamory would work for you; I’m reminding you that monogamy is not the only acceptable relationship model. Polyamory requires trust and vulnerability too.
The amount of sex you have—if you have any—is not what determines a meaningful and healthy relationship. Instead of wondering if you’re having enough sex or if you think you should be having sex, ask if the amount of connection is what you want it to be between you and your partner(s).
And try to take the pressure off of yourself. If you’re happy with your sex life then keep being happy. Don’t use other people’s experiences to determine if yours is valid. And if you aren’t happy with the physical connection you are (or aren’t) experiencing with your partner(s) then have an open and conversation before freaking out and getting yourself caught on a tightrope.