- Experts say you usually have sex more frequently and spontaneously in the beginning of your relationship.
- Later in your relationship, it can take some work to keep that going.
- A study showed that happy couples have sex about once a week.
- The average couple has sex anywhere between once a week to a few times per month.
- But more sex does not always equal more happiness.
There is absolutely nothing like a new relationship. You are totally psyched about dating this cool person, they’re exciting and attractive, which probably means you’re having a lot of sex. Like, all of the time.
Once you’ve been dating them for a while, though, things can have a tendency to cool off. While you can still have a hot and fulfilling sex life when you’re deep into a relationship, sometimes your job, kids, cat, or the new episode of “Game of Thrones” can get in the way.
And that inevitable ebb and flow of how often you’re getting busy can lead many to wonder, is this normal?
Seriously, Google “how often is it normal to have sex” and you will find a trove of message boards, articles, and frantic pleas for answers. And the answer can depend on a lot of things, from your age to your sex drive to your partner’s sex drive to the weather — ever notice how there’s always so many babies being born nine months after a blizzard?
It’s true new couples tend to have more sex, and we have science to thank for that.
New couples can go through a phase called limerence, which can last from 18 months to up to 2 years, according to Sari Cooper, certified sex therapist and director of Center for Love and Sex. Limerence, a term coined by Dorothy Tennov in her book “Love and Limerence: The Experience of Being in Love,” is a time when your brain releases chemicals bonding you to another person and create euphoria around the relationship.
And during that time, you may be getting busy a lot, but that doesn’t necessarily set the tone for the rest of the relationship.
“I think the frequency of sexual activity at the beginning of a couple’s relationship is not a good predictor of how frequent their sex life will be later on or over a long term period,” Cooper said to INSIDER.
But it doesn’t mean that frequent sex is good for nothing (obviously!). Cooper said that actually limerence can be a great time to experiment and discover what will make your partner tick for the rest of the relationship.
“I think a couple has their own rhythm and each individual have their own unique level of libido,” Cooper told us. “Part of the enjoyment of being a new couple is discovering parts of your erotic experience that you may not have known before solely because of the unique connection you have with your partner and the type of experiences, desire, and curiosity they have.”
Once you’re settled into a relationship, it can be hard to keep up with a “normal” level of getting it on.
Many people are self-conscious about the amount of sex that they have with their partner and how that plays into their relationship, which Cooper attributes to humans’ natural tendency toward competition.
“Most people want to feel ‘normal’ or, if they’re competitive, ‘above average’ and are influenced by culture to regard sex almost like a sport, replete with statistics, averages, and such,” she said.
If you do look into concrete numbers of how often happy couples should have sex, you’ll see a few figures come up. A study published in Social Psychology and Personality Science in 2015 found that on average, happy couples had sex about once a week, and that is a common figure you’ll see cited.
Quality does not always mean quantity as the same study also found that couples who had sex more than once a week did not report being any happier. But couples who did the deed less than once a week reported feeling less happy.
“Although more frequent sex is associated with greater happiness, this link was no longer significant at a frequency of more than once a week,” lead researcher Amy Muise said. “Our findings suggest that it’s important to maintain an intimate connection with your partner, but you don’t need to have sex everyday as long as you’re maintaining that connection.”
And that study is consistent with another one performed at Carnegie Mellon University, which prompted couples to have sex more often that they normally do. They actually reported feeling more unhappy as compared to a control group who proceeded to have sex as often as they usually did.
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