“How often do you and your partner have sex?”
It’s a question that comes up often, exposing some of our deepest insecurities about our intimate relationships.
Few of us haven’t wondered at some point: How much sex should we be having? What if we’re having less sex than our friends? Is our relationship doomed if we aren’t having enough sex? And what is enough sex anyway?”
These questions are essentially flawed, because how often we are having sex doesn’t address whether or not that sex is good, bad, or dissatisfying. Nevertheless, the frequency in which we are sexually intimate can play a role in both our sexual and relationship satisfaction. So how often are most couples having sex? And what does that mean for our relationship quality and satisfaction?
Before addressing the different frequencies of sexual activity, and what that means for our relationship and sexual satisfaction, it’s worth noting the most common frequency of sexual activity that average couples report having in bedrooms across the nation.
In a study of over 26,000 Americans, which was published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, participants reported having sex 54 times a year, which averages out to approximately once a week. This reported frequency was found to be about 9 sexual interactions a year lower since a similar study was conducted in 1990. The sample included those who were single, dating, married, and cohabitating. When the authors looked at married couples specifically, the average sexual frequency was slightly lower, at 51 sexual encounters a year, or just less than once a week on average.
How happy are couples that have sex at the national average of about once a week? Researchers have concluded that couples who were having sex once a week are the happiest, while couples who reported having sex 2, 3 (or more) times a week, were no happier than those having sex once a week. They still reported being quite happy, but the research suggests they were just as happy as couples who had sex at the national average.
So couples having sex at the average of once a week are happy. And couples who have sex more often than that are just as happy. But what about those of us having sex less than once a week?
Potentially Problematic Response
The study described above, which focused on sexual frequency and happiness, did conclude that those who were having sex less than once a week reported lower levels of happiness than those having sex once a week .
The Reason You’re Not Having Sex Matters More
The frequency with which we have sex receives a lot of attention because it’s the easiest way to measure and compare our sex lives to our peers. But having lots of bad sex isn’t going to make anyone happy nor is it going to leave you feeling satisfied. It’s important to recognize that the reasons we aren’t having sex matter more than how often we are having it.
It’s important to remember that good satisfying sex, even if it’s once a month or less, may be preferable to having sex once a week when it’s not eliciting sexual pleasure or feelings of intimacy and closeness.
The question is, How long can you go without sex?