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How Much Sex Is Normal: The Sex Other People Have And Why You Need To Stop Measuring Yourself Against Them

How Much Sex Is Normal: The Sex Other People Have And Why You Need To Stop Measuring Yourself Against Them

Whatever amount of sex you want to have – whether it's none at all or every day – is totally fine.

how much sex is normal

How much sex is normal: what other people do and why you need to stop measuring yourself against them. (Image via Shutterstock)

Overview

One of the most commonly asked questions about libido and healthy sexual activity is about the amount of sex we should be having. While there are general ranges for people who insist on being offered numbers, it’s important that we remember how unique we and our situations are.

This article will share some loose standards and explanations about how these numbers are derived, but not without reminding readers that, ultimately, what feels right for us is up to each individual to determine, and that the healthy thing to do is set our own standards rather than comparing ourselves to others.

Although it’s true that a moderate amount of sex boosts endorphins and helps increase our physical and mental health, help us bond with our partners, and increases our overall satisfaction, more than a modest amount doesn’t necessarily benefit us from a mental or physical health perspective.

We often believe others are a lot more active than they actually are and some may feel insecure about their own sexual behavior based on those assumptions. Perhaps, for that reason, it’s important to have a realistic understanding of the frequency of sexual activity most people are having.

Sexual Frequency – How Often Should You Have Sex?

First, it’s important to note that our sexualities do not remain consistent. We experience libido in different ways during different phases in our lives. Some factors contributing to change are age, health, length of our relationship, work, stress, family and medication.

While, generally, a 25-year-old will be having more sex than a 45-year-old, a 45-year-old with no children and a minimally stressful career could likely be having more sex than a 25-year-old with a stressful job and children.

Likewise, a 30-year-old in a long-term relationship may be having less sex than a 50-year-old in a brand-new relationship.

Regardless of the situation or numbers that reports reveal, sexual frequency is not a competition and we shouldn’t be aiming to achieve more of it for the sake of winning an imaginary game.

We should, instead, be checking in with ourselves. What makes sense for us, our specific lifestyles and our unique partnerships?

According to surveys like that taken by Indiana University’s National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, people in their 20’s average about 2 sexual encounters per week, or about 112 times a year.Those in their 30s come in at 1.6 times per week or about 86 times a year, and those 40 and up are having sex no more than once a week or about 69 times a year. Couples in the 50s may be seeing sex about 52 times a year or less. In short, the average adult reports having sex about 54 times a year.

Decreasing sexual frequency isn’t necessarily reflective of a lack of desire, but a change of life circumstances in different generations. It can also have to do with how we feel about our partners and ourselves as our relationships progress.

In our 20s, we are less likely to have as many life pressures as older generations. As our life burdens are fewer, we have more freedom and energy to engage more frequently in sex.

It’s also more likely than those in relationships in their 20s, are in new relationships and are therefore enjoying the libidinous effects of the honeymoon phase, which, notoriously, begins to decline for any long term couple after about 3 years.

In our 30s, we are more likely to have increased career responsibilities and be married or cohabitating.

Honeymoon phases might be over, and children might be a part of our lives. As children will change the energy level and availability of their parents to engage in sexual activity, those who have them will usually notice a decline in romantic time together.

As we age, we may find physical factors become more burdensome on our sexuality. Menopause typically sets in during a woman’s 50s, when an absence of hormones creates sometimes very uncomfortable changes for her, which often come attached to a loss of sexual desire.

Men can begin having difficulty with erections beginning at age 40 and almost men will experience erectile dysfunction by the age of 70.

In the second half of our lives, our sex drive may also be affected by certain health problems or the medications we might be taking for them.

While these tend to be more abundant as we age, they are not exclusive to age. We may be on antidepressants or other health or hormonal medications at any phase in our lives, which can impact our desire for sex.

Having sex more than the amount of time stated in general consensus does not make someone an addict, hypersexual or unhealthy.

If a person and their partner engage in sex 7 times a week and both are happy with it, then that number is healthy for them and they should not feel the need to scale back just to fit a norm. Their factors may be different than those who contributed to polls.

Sex Addiction – Who It Affects & Is It Real?

One does not have to worry about hypersexuality or sexual addiction just because they have a higher than average sexual desire or a wish to connect with their partner more.

Although sex addiction is a debatable subject, as a general rule, one only needs to consider seeking professional help for a sexual overdrive if the compulsion to engage in sexual activity is damaging other parts of their lives.

Like an alcoholic or gambling addict, if an intense need to feel sexual pleasure causes someone to lose their jobs, slip in academic performance, hurt someone else (or themselves), destroy their relationships, create financial hardship, or put themselves in a legal dilemma, only then may their desire be considered at an unhealthy high.

For those who think more sex is synonymous with more happiness, It’s important to note that, for most, having sex more than average does not have any positive impact on relationship satisfaction.

While it may be enjoyable or desired for one or both partners, more sex does not necessarily mean more happiness. If there’s a relationship between sex and happiness, it is on the quality of sex rather than the frequency.

Having sex less than the norm also doesn’t necessarily mean something is wrong. If partners agree that they’re perfectly content having less sex, then they have found their acceptable norm and should not feel the need to evaluate themselves against anyone else.

However, it has been noted that a significant decrease in sex can bring down the level of many people’s overall life satisfaction.

Uninterested or Less sex

Hyposexuality, an extremely low or complete absence of sexual desire, can be caused by many factors, including trauma or health issues, but this condition is rare.

Generally, if we believe ourselves our partners to be uninterested in sex or “frigid”, it’s most likely has to do with something like unhappiness in the relationship, cultural influences, social pressure, or personal insecurities.

Having little sex doesn’t necessarily mean there’s something pathologically wrong with the person who desires it less, but it may be a sign that changes and/or an important discussion need to be brought to the table.

Are You in a Sexless Marriage?

Sexless marriages are a big concern for those in long term relationships. We know this as it’s one of Google’s most top searched terms, as discussed by authors and analysists, such as a former Google data scientist Seth Stephens-Davidowitz.

Those in marriages having sex 10 times a year or less are considered sexless, which is perfectly ok if both partners determine it is, but it can lead to intense distress for a relationship if both partners aren’t mutually satisfied with this number.

If one partner has a significantly different drive than another, the partner with the higher drive should not attempt to coerce the other into more sex as this can cause resentment and discomfort.

Likewise, the partner with the lower libido should not shame their partner for a desire to engage more as this can create anger and insecurity.

Ideally, communication, empathy, and compromise from both sides will get them to their personal “normal”.

Sexual partners facing a discrepancy in libido, whether married or not, should understand what exactly it is about sex that they desire and determine through self-analysis as well as respectful, transparent conversations how they can come to a happy, healthy meeting point.

A personal normal or middle ground does need to be found, though. Most people, regardless of their phase in life, can not live happily on no sex at all and couples who are unable to find a comfortable compromise will suffer serious relationship strains.

In fact, it’s said that couples who engage in regular sex display greater satisfaction from both sides.

While sex is just one of many elements of a happy, successful intimate life, it’s an important element that holds us as individuals and couples together.

Tips to Improve Your Sex Life

To ensure you’re achieving the healthiest version of your normal, you must not be afraid to check in with yourself and your partner.

Communicate clearly and often about your intimate needs and desires, and if you both agree that you’re satisfied with the sexual connection you have, then you’ve found your perfectly normal.

To review, if you are worried about whether or not you are having as much sex as you should be having, don’t be. Many people have this unnecessary insecurity based on an overinflated sense of other people’s sex lives.

You should only be concerned about your sexual frequency if:

  • It has become a serious strain on your relationship
  • It has become compulsive and reckless
  • It has prevented you from fulfilling academic, career or family obligations or gotten you into serious legal or financial trouble

If you find these apply to you and you want to make changes, you should:

  • Ask your partner when it will be a good time to talk bout your differences in desire and engage in honest, empathetic, loving discussion about your wants and needs when the time is right.
  • Be prepared to have potentially challenging discussions nondefensively and with an open heart.
  • Ask yourself what you’re perceived over or underside might actually stem from. Do you have a low desire because there’s something wrong with you, or because you resent your partner for something? Do you have a hyper-charged desire because you need more sex, or are you craving thrill, attention or validation?
  • Don’t blame anyone else for your frustration. Ask your partner if there’s anything you can do to help desires match more closely.
  • Make sure you’re making healthy lifestyle decisions and giving yourself plenty of self-care and relaxation time.
  • Do not be ashamed to speak to a doctor or therapist about what you believe is an issue. They can and will help you without judgment.

Otherwise, take it easy on yourself. Regardless of how your sexual frequency compares to the polls. A general rule, if you feel normal and happy, it doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing, and you will find partners who will meet you where you’re at in your sexual desire.

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Valerie Baber, MA

Valerie delivers discussion on the topics of sex, society, and health to help battle stigma and increase empathy for others....

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