For a long time my partner and I (mostly I) struggled with the amount of sex we were having. We are in a monogamous relationship. He is male. I am female. I know what you may be thinking- that he wants more sex than I do. But actually that's not the case. We are both extremely happy and fulfilled in our relationship. We just don't have a lot of sex.
And this used bothered me because, like many people in monogamous relationships, I fell into this trap that we should be having sex this many times a week. And we don't. So even though we were happy, I felt like we were failing in this aspect of our relationship.
"The amount of sex varies from person to person. Really what a couple needs to look at is what they are trying to get out of it," sexologist and sex educator Dr. Timaree Schmit PhD told me in a recent interview.
This really interested me because honestly I've never looked at it that way. Dr. Timaree went on to explain that instead of trying to simply compromise the amount of sex you are having, it would better serve a couple to actually consider the needs and even goals of each person. To think about what sex actually means to you.
She went on to say, "if the goal is getting off, you can get off by yourself and your partner could still be present, if the goal is physical intimacy then maybe you want to do massage or cuddle or spend time together or maybe it's about being validated and feeling attractive, in which case they can tell you that."
So instead of putting lots of projections on the amount of sex you are having or comparing yourself with another couple, Dr. Timaree says it's is much more affective to look inside and consider what you really want. And yes, this requires lots of communication.
Crazy idea huh? Seems like taking the time to consider what sex really does for you, how it fulfills you and why you crave it can shift a couple from feeling the pressures of having a certain amount of sex to simply trying to express and get their needs met.
But also it's important to remember two things. First, "sex" doesn't need to mean just intercourse. Just because a couple isn't having intercourse doesn't mean they aren't having sex. It's so easy to get fixated on this act (especially in the case of straight couples as opposed to same sex couples) but in reality there are many other ways to receive pleasure.
Second, just because your friends may be having sex with their partners way more than you doesn't mean they are having better sex. The amount of time, connection, passion and communication can vary greatly. "It's really quality over quantity in this case." Dr. Timaree reminds.
When I started to think about my own relationship I realized that I hadn't been considering it from these angles. Our needs are met in so many ways beyond sex. From affection, to deep communication, to play time, to compliments, to pressing our heads together with our eyes closed just for the fun of it, we connect in many ways.
So the next time you get caught up on the amount of sex you are having in your relationship take a moment and consider what needs you actually have (both sexually and otherwise) and all the ways they could be met. Sometimes a little perspective can change everything.
Want to explore this more? Click here to learn about an upcoming intensive with Dr. Timaree and myself in the Philadelphia area called Sexual Being.