• Mon. Mar 20th, 2023

Sexologist on how much sex is normal in a relationship, sexless marriage

ByGurinderbir Singh

Feb 12, 2023

Welcome to Relationship Rehab, news.com.au’s weekly column solving all your romantic problems, no holds barred.

This week, our resident sexologist Isiah McKimmie details what is “normal” in terms of sexual frequency.

Question: How important is sex in a committed relationship? I’ve been with my partner for six years and our relationship is almost sexless. We only really have sex every few months, if that. We are very committed and enjoy each other’s company. I have tried to bring up the lack of sex but my partner gets flustered. I don’t know if it’s because they want more sex or because they feel that I may not be happy. To be honest, I’m fine with never having sex again! Is this normal?

Answer: How much sex should be had is a common question – and source of tension – that couples face. The importance of sex is to a relationship will depend on the individuals in that relationship – there’s no one size fits all. Talking about this together can prevent it becoming the elephant in the room pushing you apart.

What’s ‘normal’ in terms of sexual frequency?

There is such a wide range of normal when it comes to sex.

The average amount that couples have sex is once a week. Couples who have more sex aren’t necessarily happier. But couples who have different desire levels and struggle to understand each other’s perspectives experience tension.

For many people, sex is a way of feeling loved and desired by their partner. Feeling loved and wanted are important to safety, connection and confidence.

The 80/20 rule of sex and relationships

Sex isn’t everything in a relationship, but it is important to many people. When everything is going well in your relationship and with sex – sex accounts for about 20 per cent. It’s the cherry on top of something amazing. But when there are problems… sex can feel like it takes up 80 per cent of your energy and thinking.

It’s normal for sexual desire to change

We all have different desire levels for sex and it’s normal for our desire levels to fluctuate throughout our lives. If both of you are okay with the frequency of sex, there’s no problem. Sexual frequency is only an issue if you experience different desire levels.

Feeling like you never want to have sex again is somewhat common – I’ve heard many people say that in my therapy room. But there’s usually more going on.

Sexual desire is responsive, rather than spontaneous.

For many people, sexual desire doesn’t just spontaneously arise on its own. It arises (or doesn’t) in response to other factors.

What that also means is that when we change contextual factors – like the state of the relationship, how relaxed someone is, their sexual attitudes, how confident they feel in themselves or even how much housework they’re doing their desires levels change – often increasing unexpectedly.

We know that women who get into a new relationship at any age experience a spike in sexual desire. Feeling like you never want to have sex again can change if you change contextual factors.

Relationships benefit most when couples address these contextual factors together.

It’s not what you’re arguing about, but how you’re arguing that makes a difference

What concerns me most is always how a couple is able to talk about an issue they’re facing. What I’m hearing is that you’re struggling to talk about this.

That’s not surprising. Sex is still taboo. Most of us weren’t taught how to talk about sex and feel awkward and embarrassed about it. It can sometimes feel easier to have sex than to talk about it.

Many couples end up not talking about sex because they feel guilty, hurt and frustrated. Because they’re often not sure how to ‘fix’ what’s going on, it can feel easier to avoid talking about it and facing an argument.

Given your partner becomes flustered when you talk about this, you might like to consider writing a letter, rather than having a face-to-face conversation.

Share the things about the relationship you love and let your partner know how much they mean to you. Share your concerns and let your partner know that you want to know more about how they’re feeling so you can work on this together.

Sex can be a beautiful way to connect with someone. It’s not necessary for every thriving relationship, but if it’s important to you or your partner, a lack of it will cause tension. I hope you find a way to make sure you’re on the same page about this.

Isiah McKimmie is a Couples Therapist, Sexologist, Sex Therapist and Lecturer. To book a session with her, visit her website or follow her on Instagram for more advice on relationships, sex and intimacy.

Read related topics:Isiah McKimmieSex Advice

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