How much sex is normal?

When you first got together you were shagging all over the place. Now? Not so much. So just how much sex is normal in a relationship?

Couple nuzzling

Scrabble again tonight, darling?

If The Mix could ban the word ‘normal’, we would. It’s a ridiculous concept – especially when it comes to peoples’ sex lives.

The thing is, when couples first get together they usually spend the first couple of months humping each others’ brains out. So when it all cools down – and you start swapping orgasms for DVD box sets – it’s natural to think “hang on, what’s up? Why aren’t we having as much sex? IS THIS NORMAL?”

How does sex change in a relationship?

In those gorgeous first few months of a relationship it’s common for couples to spend A LOT of their time shagging each other senseless. Every time you meet, you end up horizontal and sans-clothes.

No, you’re not sex maniacs. It’s science. You’re both releasing massive amounts of bonding hormones to attach yourselves to each other. Plus you’re learning about each others’ bodies, which is a massive turn on. But the reality is you can’t continue exchanging bodily fluids at this rate forever. And when the initial “I-want-you-now-immediately-and-repeatedly” lust wanes, people can panic the relationship is waning, too.

Not the case.

“As relationships go on, it’s really natural to have less sex. It doesn’t mean you don’t love each other anymore,” says Dr Cecilia d’Felice, a clinical psychologist. “Because you’re more comfortable and secure with each other, you’re already bonded, and therefore need less sex.”

But how much sex is normal?

Ignore every stat you’ve heard about how often everyone else is having sex. It’s all nonsense. And it will undoubtedly be more/less than you’re having, so why wind yourself up? Here are the questions you should be asking yourself:

a) What’s the right amount of sex for me?

b) Am I satisfied with the quality of the sex I’m having?

If the answer is yes, it doesn’t matter if you only do it once a year. If you’re happy, what’s the problem? If you’re unhappy about the quantity and/or quality, then talk to your partner about your needs and expectations.

I’m only young. Surely it’s too soon to stop having regular rampant sex?

Whether you’re in your teens or 20s, if you’re in a long-term relationship your serial shag-a-thons will diminish. OK, so this is fair enough if you’re at the settling-down stage, but if you met in your teens it probably feels too soon to be hanging up your pantyhose.

“It’s difficult for young couples because you’re not at a stage when you move onto the next step of commitment,” says Dr d’Felice. “Later on in life, couples graduate to getting married and having kids. And, when you don’t have that to focus on, then things can seem dull.”

Try and focus on the good parts of long-term love and sex. You’ll know each other’s bodies really well and can turn each other on easily, as well as being comfortable enough to experiment with new things. Not too shabby now, huh?

But my partner never wants to have sex

Someone is always going to want sex more than the other, and remember lots of factors can put your partner off sex. If they’re stressed about exams, down about unemployment, have depression or a major family crisis going on – then accept their libido isn’t going to be top-notch. Also, remember this balance may always reverse as your love progresses.

“All relationships are about compromise,” says Dr d’Felice. “The sex aspect is no different. If you’ve got different libidos then you need to talk about it.”

How do you talk about sex?

The important thing is to not blame. Rather, talk about how you feel, as that opens it up to much more of a discussion. You could try saying something like: “We don’t seem to have as much sex as we did and I’m worried you don’t fancy me anymore.”

Also, try not to dress it up as a serious issue (“We need to talk. NOW”), as it can make your partner feel intimidated and automatically go on the defensive. Instead, chat when you’re just chilling out together and you’ve got plenty of time.

I love my partner but I don’t fancy them anymore

“Anyone in a long-term relationship will experience times when they don’t fancy their partner,” says Dr d’Felice, “although it’s often when we don’t fancy ourselves.” (I.e. if you’re down on life, it’s likely you’re down on lovin’ and libido, too.)

So before you declare your partner lacking in va-va-voom, it’s worth examining how sexy you’re feeling in general. These feelings can often be mended – even if you’re at the point of picturing someone else when you have sex. The trick is breaking your routine and seeing them in a different light.

“Go out and get drunk!” suggest Dr d’Felice. “Or meet some friends together. Watching your partner being entertaining and seeing other people fancy them will bring their glow back. You’re bound to go off each other if you’re only watching TV night after night.”

However, if, over a period of time, you don’t get the lust back, the kindest thing to do is to let them go. It’s not fair to keep someone in a sexless relationship just because you need the security. Patronising as it sounds, it’s worth remembering that you’re young so there’s plenty of time and options out there love-wise – so there’s no need to stay in a loveless/lustless/just generally crap relationship.

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Updated on 29-Sep-2015