How Often Are Other People Having Sex?

HowOftenCouplesHaveSex__introIllustrated By Ly Ngo.
UPDATE: This post was originally published on April 18, 2014. Relationship sex can be different than single sex, and having a partner can make us feel safe, scared, sensual, or even (sometimes) a bit bored. Whether you're one month into a casual relationship or 10 years into a committed one, intimacy is fluid and personal. Our libidos aren't static, and tons of things — from medications to expectations — affect desire. There isn't one "correct" frequency for sex; we're all so different, and our relationships are all so different. The most important element is whether we're satisfied. We asked 12 women in relationships to give us the low-down on their sex lives — what they love and what they wish were different.
HowOftenCouplesHaveSex_1Illustrated by Ly Ngo.
Three-and-a-half-year relationship
Has sex once per week
"In the beginning of our relationship, my then-girlfriend and I had sex ALL. THE. TIME. Like, more than once a day. After a few months, we calmed down, and have never gotten back to that place of urgency. I'm not thrilled about it. I'd love to be having more sex.
We frequently try new things — toys, positions, etc. — but usually revert back to the same routine after a little bit. When you find something that works for both of you, it's hard to be motivated to commit to something else."
HowOftenCouplesHaveSex_2Illustrated by Ly Ngo.
Married for three years, together for five years prior to marriage
Has sex once per week
"My husband and I waited until we were married to have intercourse (we did other things while we were dating). We also didn't live together before we were married. So, we used to fool around almost every time we saw each other.
Honestly, our sex life is not fantastic. My husband and I are both extremely busy and work opposite schedules. The stress plus the lack of physical time together means that we're really only able to get it on once on the weekend.
We don't really experiment in the bedroom. I did pull out the vibrator the other day, which was nice. I've told my partner that I want to try watching porn together, and he says that he's okay with it, but somehow he seems hesitant, so we haven't tried it. The best thing for us is actually hotel sex, even if it's a 'staycation' — because that seems to be the only way we can truly detach from chores and all of the distractions at home."
HowOftenCouplesHaveSex_12Illustrated by Ly Ngo.
In a relationship for three years
Has sex once per month
“Our relationship has had its ups and downs. We’ve had a more open situation, we’ve broken up, we’ve gotten back together, I've experimented with dating women and men. At first, we were really into kink and bondage, toys, role-playing, crazy latex, watching porn together — the whole nine yards. But, one day, it just kinda...halted.
It’s only been recently that our sex life has slowed to a trickle and it makes me really sad. I just don’t feel a huge impulse to have sex with him anymore. I think about having sex with other people sometimes, and I might do that. I kind of cheated on him recently. But it’s tough because I really love my partner. Our sexual fire is just gone at the moment. I think only time will tell if it will come back — or if we’ll both need to move in search of more compatible sexual partners.”
HowOftenCouplesHaveSex_11Illustrated by Ly Ngo.
In a relationship for four months
Has sex three times per week
“I am super-happy in my relationship. I didn't foresee myself at almost 30, starting to date a woman for the first time, but I am completely happy with the situation and growing to be more comfortable, open, and satisfied everyday.
However, I do feel bored while having sex sometimes. This is my first intimate relationship with a female, and lesbian sex is a long process. It lasts at least an hour, but usually two to three, and honestly, yeah, I get a little bored sometimes. I am used to sleeping with guys, which can be long, too — but, it was usually a quick-and-hot session that was over the minute he came (with no worry about whether or not I had finished).
The amount of sex we’re having has changed from the start of the relationship. In the beginning, it was me being shy and her doing everything to pleasure me because I had NO idea what I was doing. But, now that I have become more adventurous and comfortable with my actions — and with 'carrying my weight' in the bedroom — I am so into it and want to pleasure her all the time.”
HowOftenCouplesHaveSex_9Illustrated by Ly Ngo.
In a relationship for five years
Has sex three to four times per week
“I generally feel bad about our sexual frequency. I am always questioning whether I'm being 'proactive' enough (what a ridiculous business term to use in this context) about initiating sex, or responsive enough during sex, or whether I'm meeting some standard of lustiness. It's weird, because generally speaking, I consider myself to have a pretty high libido. But, when it comes to actual sex with my partner, I feel like it's never enough for him.
He would never, ever pressure me into sex, and the problem is completely inside my head. Whenever I do voice my concerns, he is really supportive and kind, and also a little bewildered. The last time I said something, he said, 'I don't understand how you can still be worried or keep these things from me when we've been intimate with each other for so long.' He's right, and I always feel better once I say something, but I tend to project this image onto him of being dissatisfied with me (even though he doesn't really do anything that suggests that).
We communicate about sex pretty honestly, but not that often. I think we both feel we can bring things up. Sometimes I wish he would tell me more things — but he doesn't seem to have a lot of fantasies. I wish he would tell me what he thinks about when he masturbates, but it has always been really weird for him to talk about, which is unusual. Although, I definitely would NOT tell him my own thoughts…”
HowOftenCouplesHaveSex_4Illustrated by Ly Ngo.
Married for four years
Has sex once per week
“I don’t feel like my sexual frequency is enough, but my husband thinks it’s too much. Discussing our sex life is complicated; it's the one subject that can get a little heavy between us. We both agreed to go to sexual therapy in a few months when we are more financially stable. It's complicated when you have a great relationship but are not satisfied sexually.”
HowOftenCouplesHaveSex_10Illustrated by Ly Ngo.
In a relationship for three years
Has sex three to four times per week
“I'm at a point where I could be having much less sex and still feel satisfied. There's not a physical issue that makes this frequency a problem, but I do find myself feeling like I'm forcing it every so often. I'm still very much excited by my partner, and I enjoy having sex while I'm actually having sex. But, my libido has been totally slashed by my birth control, and I find myself physically exhausted after work, so it's hard to 'get it up,' if you will.
We talk about our sex life, and make jokes about it, DURING sex (in a very respectful and healthy way). We're also curious about other couples' sex lives; I feel like most people do it way less often, and he thinks that they do it more [than we do it]. I think I'm trying to justify my non-constant turned-on-ness as normal, while he wants to justify his constant turned-on-ness as normal.
We've talked about our sexual frequency, and if he could, my partner would be having sex every day (multiple times a day, too). He's frustrated because, for him, sexual desire is a manifestation of love; for me, it's something that can be totally separate, and I don't feel like I need to engage in it every day to show that I love someone. It's funny how compromises work — while this frequency is where we've met in the middle, we both feel like our needs aren't quite being met.”
HowOftenCouplesHaveSex_3Illustrated by Ly Ngo.
Married for five years
Has sex three to four times per week
"We talk about sex pretty openly; we both came from different sexual backgrounds. I was a serial monogamist and had poor long-term sexual relationships, and he was a wild one-night-stander who had pretty unfulfilling one-night-stand sex. So, going into it, it was pretty important to both of us that we maintain solid sex communication — so we talk about it all the time.
I don’t really ever feel bored by our sex life. We have pretty decent sexual chemistry, so it's stayed pretty consistent throughout our relationship and marriage."
HowOftenCouplesHaveSex_5Illustrated by Ly Ngo.
In a relationship for four years
Has sex two to four times per week
“Because he doesn't live with me, and only stays with me on the weekends, it's great! We don't try to push it anymore — meaning, we don't feel we need to do it every time we're together. We were in a long-distance relationship while I was finishing up school, and those sexual experiences were so special because we really had to savor them. Not to say we don't savor them anymore, but now it's really about 'lovemaking' and pleasuring each other because we enjoy each other's body, closeness, embrace...or it can be a heat-of-the-moment thing and that's really sexy, too.”
HowOftenCouplesHaveSex_6Illustrated by Ly Ngo.
In a relationship for one-and-a-half years
Has sex 10 times per month
"I feel pretty good. I'm satisfied, and I never see sex as an obligation. Sometimes, there are nights when we're both tired, and I don't really want to have sex that much — but when my boyfriend doesn't seem to want to have sex either, and we go to sleep, I feel hurt. In those moments, the crazy rears its head and I feel this sense that we aren't having enough sex. But then I wake up in the morning, regain my sanity, and go on feeling good about life."
HowOftenCouplesHaveSex_7Illustrated by Ly Ngo.
In a relationship for four years
Has sex one to eight times per month
“I don’t feel great about our sex life. Most of the time, I feel like we should be having more sex. I’ve tried to change things up: lingerie, it, use it once, put it in the drawer, and then it kind of just collects dust. It's hard to do the 'spice things up' game. Strangely, I don't feel free enough, even though I trust him more than anyone.”
HowOftenCouplesHaveSex_8Illustrated by Ly Ngo.
In a relationship for two-and-a-half years
Has sex two times per week
“I’m happy with our sex life. I wish I had more time/energy to devote to it, though. I also think he wishes it were more frequent. But we speak about our sex life very openly, mostly lightheartedly but sometimes more seriously.”

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