How Often Do People Have Sex?

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How Often Do People Have Sex? The Answer Might Surprise You

How Often Do People Have Sex?

How Often Do People Have Sex? The Answer Might Surprise You

How often do people have sex?

It’s an interesting question, and one that’s somewhat hard to answer. Humans, unlike many other animals, don’t have fixed mating patterns or seasons, and, as with many aspects of human sexuality, questions of self reporting can lead to people under- or overestimating their own data.

This might all be relatively academic, if not, for the fact that many people actively worry that they’re not having enough sex.

Whether they’re worried they’re not having enough sex because they’re concerned about keeping up with their peers, making sure their partner is happy, or simply having a fulfilling sex life themselves, worrying about this is a common and understandable concern, even if, in most cases, it’s not necessarily a serious concern.

In order to get a better picture of how often people have sex, and why caring about it might not be helpful, AskMen spoke to a couple of sex experts. Here’s what they had to say:

How Often Do People Have Sex?

While the true response to this question is hard to pin down, because everyone’s answer will be different, and answers will change from month to month or year to year according to a whole host of factors, people have attempted to divine what the average number looks like.

“Sex means different things to different people, so it’s important to note that different definitions will produce different results,” says Jess O’Reilly. “A study of 7,055 adults published in 2022 [found that] adults between 18 and 49 reported having penile-vaginal intercourse an estimated 47 times per year (just less than once per week).”

However, she notes, the same study also found that those numbers represented a “decrease in sexual frequency across the board” — meaning that, collectively, we’re having less sex than we were in the past. Which shouldn’t be a surprise if you’ve been following the data that young people today are engaging in less sex than their parents’ generations did.

So there you have it — on average, adults under 50 are not quite cracking 4 times a month, and that figure is down from where it once was.

Keep in mind, these numbers include people who don’t have any sex at all and people who have inordinate amounts of sex. It’s not that everyone is having sex about 50 times a year, it’s that when you find an average of all the people who have it once or twice with those who have it 20, 60 and 100 times a year, you end up just shy of 50 — at least, according to this one study.

Is How Often People Have Sex Important?

A follow-up question that you might want to consider is — how important is this data, really? After all, what does ‘normal’ even mean in the context of how often people have sex?

“How often you have sex can be determined by so many factors, and some of which don’t even have a single thing to do with sexuality or libido,” says Lisa Finn, sex educator for Babeland. These include, she says, things like “schedules, lack of privacy, physical health, mental health, physical distance from your partner, and so on.”

“So, there is no ‘normal,’” Finn concludes. “What’s normal to a couple that has all of their bills paid, only work part-time, live together, and don’t have kids, can be completely different from the normal for a couple that doesn’t live together, are working full-time jobs on separate schedules, and have to worry about childcare. There’s no control group here.”

“We have a tendency to compare ourselves to others and measure our own worth based on how we stack up,” says O’Reilly. “Research related to social comparison theory recognizes that comparison has the potential to result in motivation and improvement, but also has a downside that can include dissatisfaction, guilt and destructive behaviors.”

“Applied to sexual frequency, social comparison may motivate us to take positive action; for example, if you feel you’re not having enough sex, you may start a meaningful conversation with your partner to address sexual frequency.”

“However,” O’Reilly notes, “social comparison can also cause distress, undue pressure and superficial communication that doesn’t address the meaning you personally attach to sex and sexual frequency. For example, if you assume that you ought to be having sex as often as others are having it, you may put pressure on yourselves to do something that doesn’t align with your own values or desires.”

“Moreover, social comparison can be irrelevant when it comes to both frequency and quality,” she points out. “It really doesn’t matter how often others are having sex, as your desires may be different (lower or higher) and the only thing that matters is your own experience.”

It’s important, also, to distinguish between what’s average and what’s normal.

“‘Average’ refers to data typical to a group or the general population. It’s a quantitative measure,” says O’Reilly. “Normal can vary from person to person and couple to couple (and it varies over time). Normal could be nominal, descriptive and/or subjective.”

While having sex on a weekly basis may be ‘average,’ pretty much any amount of sex can be ‘normal’ insofar as lots of other people will be experiencing the same thing all around the world, whether that’s no sex or lots of sex or anywhere in between.

Ultimately, “normal may refer to what feels good for you,” says O’Reilly. “You get to define what normal is in your relationship — and it can change over time (e.g. it’s likely to be more frequent when you first meet versus when you have young children).”

How to Talk Sex Frequency With a Partner

If the reason you’re concerned about how often people have sex is because you and a romantic or sexual partner are in disagreement with each other about your own sexual frequency, that can be frustrating.

“When it comes to differing opinions about sexual frequency — and differences in libido — it can be really stressful for a relationship,” says Finn. “The person who wants more sex can feel rejected or unwanted, and the person who wants less may feel guilt or pressure (often the person with lower desire is going to be the one pathologized, but this isn’t something that needs to be given blame or fault).”

In order to navigate this issue, Finn says, “Communication is going to be key.”

So how does that work?

Address the Issue Honestly

“Talk about your feelings and don’t let the tension of this loom over the relationship, or it’s going to show its head in other parts of life as well,” Finn says.

Talking about sex might be daunting, but it’s necessary if anything is going to change for the better, and like any skill, it becomes easier with practice.

Don’t Blame Each Other

Because sex can be a very emotional topic, it’s important to “approach these conversations without judgment,” O’Reilly cautions. “If you treat your partner as though they’re broken (or as though they’re a pervert), you won’t create the safe and caring conditions for honest and vulnerable sharing.”

Try Using ‘Frequency Love Notes’

This is a tactic O’Reilly recommends. She describes it like so:

“Write down how often you want to have sex. Once per week? Twice per month? Daily? A few times per year?Then write down how often you think your partner wants to have sex.Have them do the same and then switch papers. You’re likely closer than you think. And if you’re not, that’s OK too. Have a conversation about your numbers, but don’t just talk about what you want. Instead, dive deeper into your why. Why do you want sex with a given frequency? How does it make you feel — personally, physically, relationally, spiritually, etc.?”

Try Creating a Fire and Ice List

Next up, O’Reilly suggests creating a list of things that might enhance or diminish your desire, like so:

Write down everything that could potentially light your fire.And write down everything that could potentially ice out desire.Include everything in your life — practical, environmental, emotional, psychological, relational, physical, etc. It could be related to sleep, work, mood, household, family, friends, health, schedules and more.Share your list so that you can better understand what conditions increase and decrease desire for sex.”

Keep the Conversation Going

“Remember that your partner isn’t a mind reader,” says Finn. “Communication shouldn’t stop as soon as action begins.”

As you make changes to the way you approach your sex life, keep talking things through with your partner.

“Verbalizing what’s feeling good, what’s working and what’s not, what you like and what you desire — these are all ways to make sure that everyone is enjoying themselves in the moment,” Finn says.

How to Have a More Satisfying Sex Frequency

So what about taking things beyond just talking and into the territory of action?

Of course, depending on your particular situation and desires, it might be realistic or unrealistic to significantly change the frequency of the sex itself — but that doesn’t mean you can’t significantly impact your overall relationship satisfaction.

Try Some New Things

“When you think about having sex — how are you defining it?” Finn asks. “Is this all sexual intimacy? Is this just penetrative sex? Is this any act that ends with an orgasm?”

To that end, she suggests a list of possible options for jumpstarting the desire in your relationship, including “other types of physical connection that might be fun for you both to explore,” like:

Filling out a Yes/No/Maybe listTalking about fantasies and desires in a non-sexual spaceUsing a remote-controlled sex toy on themMutual masturbation or masturbating for your partnerExploring sensation play or BDSM

Schedule Sexy Times

Another potential approach Finn suggests is what experts call maintenance sex — sex that you schedule in advance.

“Scheduling sex may not seem very sexy, but it makes sure that we’re carving out the time to not let life get in the way,” she says.

So what does that look like?

“Plan ahead, allot yourselves the extra time for intimacy and foreplay, set the mood with some music or mood lighting, put on your sexiest lingerie, switch your phones to ‘do not disturb,’” Finn says, “and make sure, even if you don’t end up having sex during that time (because consent is always able to be withdrawn or retracted), that you are still spending the time to enjoy physical intimacy with one another, whether that’s wild and horny sex or cuddling and soft touches. It’s about the intent and the connection.”

Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

“Know that there is no normal,” says O’Reilly. “If you want it every day, that can be healthy for you. If they don’t want it at all, that can be healthy for them. Neither of you is better or more right than the other.”

“However,” she adds, “if you want to be in a relationship, you’ll likely want to find some common ground so that you both feel fulfilled (without pressure).”

Focus on Quality, Not Quantity

“I know that it’s cliche, but I’m gonna say it: when it comes to having sex, it should be about quality and not quantity,” says Finn. “You can have a super fulfilling sex life even if you’re not having sex on a daily basis.”

Pushing yourself to hit some kind of a ‘quota,’ she notes, whether to please or impress a partner or to ‘keep up’ with some imagined ideal, is likely to worsen the enjoyment of everyone involved over time.

Try Not to Take It Personally

“Recognize that desire isn’t just about hormones and pleasure; many factors can affect desire for sex,” says O’Reilly. She lists “medications, sleep, diet, mood, mental health, physical health, relationship satisfaction, hormones, age, lifestyle, schedule, work demands, and more.”

“Oftentimes,” O’Reilly says, “when our partner doesn’t want sex, we erroneously personalize it (blame ourselves or blame them).”

This is an understandable reaction, as sexual desire can feel very emotionally high-stakes, but it’s not necessarily a helpful one.

Recognizing that everyone has their own personal factors that impact their desire levels, and that this isn’t a reflection of you as a lover or your desirability, can be a huge step forward when it comes to feeling more satisfied with your sex life, as well as being able to have productive conversations about it.

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Source: AskMen


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