How much sex should you have in relationships?
How much is enough? And is it quantity or quality that counts? Anouszka Tate has the answers...
Reader question: How much sex should you have in relationships? I think my boyfriend and I should be having more sex than we are, so I want to make that our joint new year’s resolution. Boyfriend’s not so sure though, I think he thinks that will make it feel forced, and obviously it takes two to tango… thoughts?
Anouszka: Aha! Our good friend ‘should’ strikes again!
We tend to put great pressure on the amount of sex we’re having; we focus on quantity when it’d be far more productive to focus on quality.
Friends will often ask how much sex you’re having because the answer is a number. A number is easier for both the giver and receiver (excuse me) than an elaborate explanation of the type or quality of sex you’re having. Please – that would involve actually talking about sex which obviously we’re hilariously incapable of doing.
Frequency is simpler to measure than satisfaction, so we give it more power.
A question I’ve posed to a reader before and will pose again now is: would you rather have tediously mediocre sex five times a week, or utterly mind-blowing, intimate sex twice a month? What are the elements you need in order to feel physically satisfied and connected to your partner? Are those elements present when you do have sex?
If so, great! Case closed!
If not, we can dig a bit deeper.
The first question you need to explore with yourself is why you think you should be having more sex. Is it because the two of you are having less than you previously did? Because you’ve recently heard of the rampant escapades of a mate and are now comparing your own relationship to theirs? Is it because you’re craving more attention, reassurance, or quality time with your boyfriend? Is it simply that you’re pretty horny?
Weirdly, it’s least likely to be the latter. There are hundreds of motivations for pursuing sex; most of them are psychological, emotional, or relational. I’d hazard a guess that for the most part when someone feels their reality is falling short of their needs, it’s less about the number of orgasms they’re (not) having, and more about wanting to feel wanted, wanting to have fun, and wanting to bond with their partner. It’s about closing a chasm between the two of you.
You’ll have your own definition of sex and what you mean by wanting to have more of it, but I’d argue that the focus of this conversation needs to switch to increasing intimacy more generally, and this is where you’re absolutely right to want to actively create time and space for your sex life.
A huge mistake many people make is believing that intimacy should just happen. It’s ‘natural’, innit? We have to leave it be and let it sort itself out. It’ll miraculously improve with no purposeful input from the people involved.
It sounds like your boyfriend is more of this opinion than you are. He sees conscious actions as contrived. A New Year’s resolution to have ‘more sex’ is perhaps too big and artificial a goal for him to cope with.
As you seem to be aware, a satisfying sex life won’t just happen. You do have to lay the foundations yourselves. But connection between the two of you doesn’t have to exist solely during the few minutes of The Sex Act.
Find the tiny moments of intimacy throughout the day. Do more of them. Stroke the back of his neck while you’re watching TV. Do some ridiculous dancing while you’re cooking. Leave each other hidden post-it notes. Each of those moments help build a bridge between the two of you that makes transitioning into sex feel like less of a big deal.
Ironically, make your resolution to increase intentional intimacy and not only will you feel more connected, you’ll probably end up having more sex…
What are you confused, curious, or concerned about? Ask me a question in the comments below or on my Instagram page, and I’ll do my best to answer in my next column!
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