A Simple Way For Couples To Know If They're Having Enough Sex
Are we having enough sex?
If you've ever wondered this to yourself while in a relationship, you certainly wouldn't be alone. Oftentimes the question comes up when there's a feeling of disconnection in the relationship—a lack of excitement or "spark" between you—and a lack of sex may float to mind as a potential explanation.
But other times, people might feel pretty satisfied and content in their relationships, but outside influences—like hearing other people talk about how much or how little sex they're having in their relationships—can make you start to question your own.
So we asked Jessa Zimmerman, M.A., an AASECT-certified sex therapist and marriage counselor, what she tells couples wondering about the amount of sex they are or aren't having.
How much sex is "enough" for a healthy relationship?
First things first: Enough for who?
Zimmerman recommends thinking about how you're defining the word "enough." Is it based on comparisons with other people's sex lives and trying to see if you're "normal"?
"There is no normal. There is no 'right' amount of sex," she says.
There's no one magic number that will work for every single pair of people, and how often couples should be having sex will always vary depending on the specific needs of the specific people involved. Some people feel perfectly satisfied with sex once every few months, whereas others would consider that basically a sexless relationship. And of course, some people like having a sexless relationship, whether because they're on the asexual spectrum or just prefer it that way. It all depends on the individual, and all preferences are valid.
Sometimes people might feel like they're not having enough sex because they're comparing their relationship to how it's been in the past, Zimmerman adds, but even a decline in frequency doesn't necessarily mean there's a problem. "It's normal for our sexual interest to change over time and to feel less intense desire," she explains. Sometimes you're just in a period of time when you don't feel like having sex, and that's perfectly OK.
The real question, she notes, is whether each partner individually feels like they're having a satisfying amount of sex—whatever that looks like to them personally. Do you feel satisfied with your sex life as it is right now? Does your partner?
A helpful check-in.
One issue with the question of "how much sex is enough sex" is that it places the focus on the wrong thing, according to Zimmerman.
"I mean, what counts as sex anyway? If you're focused on 'the act' (whatever that is for you) and the frequency of such, then you're focused on the wrong thing," she says. "It's not just about 'getting it done' or checking the box. The point of sex, from my point of view, is to share pleasure with your partner and to feel connected in the process, no matter what you do with your body parts and what the end result is."
It's less about whether you and your partner are engaging in a certain act a certain number of times. It's about how connected the two of you feel and how much pleasure you're getting to enjoy in your relationship.
So with that in mind, Zimmerman recommends asking yourself a more important question: Am I (and is my partner) having enough pleasure and connection?
"Consider whether you'd like more pleasure and whether you feel enough connection in your relationship. And ask your partner about whether they'd like more of those things," she explains. "If so, prioritize that."
That might mean having more sex more often, or any other number of ways to creatively bridge the gap. The point, as it always is when it comes to sex: Just focus on doing what actually makes you and your partner feel good.
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Kelly Gonsalves is a multi-certified sex educator and relationship coach helping people figure out how to create dating and sex lives that actually feel good — more open, more optimistic, and more pleasurable. In addition to working with individuals in her private practice, Kelly serves as the Sex & Relationships Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a degree in journalism from Northwestern University, and she’s been trained and certified by leading sex and relationship institutions such as The Gottman Institute and Everyone Deserves Sex Ed, among others. Her work has been featured at The Cut, Vice, Teen Vogue, Cosmopolitan, and elsewhere.
With her warm, playful approach to coaching and facilitation, Kelly creates refreshingly candid spaces for processing and healing challenges around dating, sexuality, identity, body image, and relationships. She’s particularly enthusiastic about helping softhearted women get re-energized around the dating experience and find joy in the process of connecting with others. She believes relationships should be easy—and that, with room for self-reflection and the right toolkit, they can be.
You can stay in the loop about her latest programs, gatherings, and other projects through her newsletter: kellygonsalves.com/newsletter