It’s really the big question in many relationships, really, isn’t it: Are we having enough sex? We’re constantly being told that there’s a magic number you need to hit every week in order to have (or maintain) a healthy, fulfilling relationship, and to be honest, this can lead to a lot of self-criticism. However, believe it or not, research shows that most couples are doing just fine.
According to a 2017 study, published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, the average adult has intercourse about 54 times a year – which is about once a week. Another 2015 study published in Social Psychological and Personality Science found that couples who have sex at least once a week are happier in their relationship than those who do less often. More importantly, this study also reveals that having sex more than once a week has no significant effect on your well-being any further. (Congratulations, you can breathe a little easier.)
According to couples counsellor and the director of the Baltimore Therapy Center, Raffi Bilek, “Couples often make the mistake of shooting for some number in order to feel okay about their sex life. The truth is that whatever is comfortable for you and your partner is your normal. You don’t need to be having sex any more or less than you’d like.”
When it comes to sex and how much of it you and your partner are having, your ages, values, lifestyle, innate sex drive, health, and, most of all, the quality of your relationship have a great role to play. Professor and director of family studies at Berry College in Georgia, Brian Jory, PhD, also introduces a new term you may never have heard – ‘sexual satiation’.
“In almost all long-term relationships, something called ‘sexual satiation’ sets in around year two or three,” says Jory. “Sexual satiation is the been there/done that element of coupledom. It’s the human tendency to become bored; it’s not a fault, and it’s nothing to be creeped out about or ashamed of.” For some couples, what this means is they’ve come to a place of comfort and security, while for others, this might be a sign that things are getting stale.
Jory advises that if the latter is the case, talking about it, “perhaps with the help of a professional counsellor,” is important in getting on the same page on the issue, while comparing yourself to statistics will most likely do more harm than good.