How Often Should You Have Sex in a Relationship?

man and woman

Sex can be a big deal between couples. Partners often have differing views on intimacy, even if sexual attraction may have played a big role in their coupling. A pressing question for some is, how often should you have sex in a relationship? The answer to this question requires couples to know each other's deepest feelings and relationship goals. It also requires something that is crucial for a healthy partnership: communication.

How often should you have sex in a relationship? There is no magical answer to this question. Couples have different levels of desire, and some people have complicated schedules or other factors that can make finding time for sex difficult. "Sex" also may actually have a different meaning for different couples. Although there may be no single answer to this question, it is an important topic for couples to discuss often.

Let's Talk About Sex and Intimacy

In answering the question, "how often should you have sex in a relationship?" we first have to make a distinction between sex and intimacy. Sex is a physical act. It can occur in the heat of passion, as an ultimate expression of profound love, or as something that is little more than a bodily function. Intimacy involves knowing someone deeply and feeling a great deal of comfort around that person. Where sex is physical, intimacy is emotional and physical. Sex and intimacy become intertwined in a loving and positive relationship.

Physical Desire's Role In Relationships

couple in bed

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Sex can build intimacy, but intimacy can also lead to more sex. Couples get together out of attraction, where sexual desire plays an important role. One of the hallmarks of intimacy is how physical and emotional desire help people become unguarded and open to their romantic partners. The same familiarity that fuels intimacy, however, can also result in bedroom boredom.

Attraction and the beginning of relationships

We all know the high-energy feelings of an early-stage sexual relationship. This is New Relationship Energy (NRE), or lover's high. To the brain, these feelings of elation are quite similar to the drug-induced euphoria. And just like how a drug's effects can wane over time for a user, so, too can NRE. The answer to the question, "how often should you have sex in a relationship?" depends a great deal on the level of intimacy in a mature relationship.

Sex and love, as relationships mature

When NRE begins to trail off, emotional and physical intimacy step into the picture. In healthy relationships — ones filled with respect, balance, joy, and friendship — sex can build a more positive connection between partners. In this way, sex and intimacy are in a circular relationship, building upon each other. This "circle of intimacy" is crucial. For many, it is the secret to a sustained intimate relationship where each partner's sexual desires and needs matter.

The Different Types Of Intimacy In Relationships


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As much as sexual intercourse and intimacy intermingle, intimacy doesn't require the physical act of love. There are several different types of intimacy in a relationship that span complex emotional and physical needs and desires.

Emotional intimacy

The first kind of intimacy can involve introspection rather than connecting directly with a partner. Emotional intimacy can have a few meanings, but one is self-knowledge of one's emotions. Those with a high degree of emotional intimacy are well-aware of their feelings. This is quite healthy as it helps people know what causes sadness, joy, and other feelings, which can illuminate a path to more joy and less sadness. Emotional intimacy can also refer to knowing someone else's feelings on a deep level.

Intellectual intimacy

Similarly, intimacy can relate to how partners share their thoughts and skills. Intellectual intimacy involves partners respecting each others' opinions, values, dreams, and fears. Intellectual intimacy is all about respect. When you care about your partner's work, hobbies, and even opinions on current events, you develop a strong bond.

This connection then creates more sparks that can fire more emotional and physical responses. How often should you have sex in a relationship? We may be able to answer this with another question: when was the last time you discussed your sex life with your partner?

Intellectual intimacy also thrives in this kind of open communication which is essential for determining intercourse frequency.

Physical intimacy

Of course, the last type of intimacy is physical. When we think of physical intimacy, we immediately envision lovemaking. While for many, sexual intercourse is the ultimate expression of affection and love, physical intimacy involves much more than just sex. Holding hands, cuddling, kissing, non-erotic massage, can each create stronger emotional bonds without involving intercourse. All types of physical intimacy benefit relationships. Physical intimacy expresses love, builds trust, and creates joy. It also has health benefits. Those with an active sex life often experience better physical and mental health.

Sex and passion can provide a backbone to a healthy relationship, but they can also be used to mask relationship problems. Intimacy is always beneficial to a relationship, but it can be possible to have too much sex in a relationship. An obvious example of too much sex is any amount more than one of the parties desires. Another example of excessive sex would be any physical intimacy that originates in anger or neediness.

In Relationships, What Is A Normal Amount of Sex?

So, we still haven't answered the question, "how often should you have sex in a relationship?" But, we are getting there, and the answer only becomes illuminated through a bit of examination of self and of the relationship.

There Is No Normal

It's crucial for partners in a relationship to know that there is no standard amount of sex session per day, week, month, or year. For some couples, the amount of sex required for a healthy relationship might seem painfully infrequent to other couples. Not every couple shares the same schedule or living arrangements. In couples that don't see each other as much as they'd like, intimacy can still thrive. For these couples, sex lives may even be stronger since they may relish their times together.

Couples Should Understand The Intimacy Needs Of Each Other

A good gauge of optimal sex frequency is partner desire. How often do you want to have sex? How often is your partner in the mood? While there can be a large gap between these two expectations, healthy couples find balance. And, one of the best ways to determine the intimacy needs of another is to ask.

Communication As Foreplay

Communicating sexual desire, romantic expectations, and needs for intimacy not only strengthens a relationship but also can lead to more sex. If you are unhappy with your sex life, talking about your displeasure can lead to more pleasure. Communication also gives individuals a greater perspective on the emotional, intellectual, and physical needs of their partners. If your spouse doesn't want to have sex at a given moment, there may be a reason. Once uncovered, resolving or respecting this issue may strengthen a relationship.

How To Increase Intimacy

If, after reflecting on the question of "how often should you have sex in a relationship?" you believe the answer is "more often," look for ways to increase intimacy. Take time to appreciate your partner. Kiss, hug, and cuddle without expectation of intercourse. Have fun together. Avoid the monotony of schedule sex, but also pencil-in intimate time when you can. Try new things — and not only in the bedroom.

Any increased time spent together can pay off in a more satisfying sex life for both. While experiences can amp-up libidos, so, too can deeply emotional conversations. Share your thoughts with your partner at the end of the day, and you'll feel less isolation and a greater connection. Even if these revelations do not lead to sex, they are one of the surest paths to intimacy.

Where To Turn If A Couple's Sexual Expectations Do Not Align

What if communication and emotional intimacy do not lead to an acceptable sex frequency? Before retreating away from a relationship because of an unsatisfactory sex life, consider whether or not counseling can help. Sometimes a third person can help couples learn to respect, communication, and listen to each other. It can be embarrassing to discuss sex with a professional, but many troubled relationships find open communication to reveal problems and solutions.

How Often Should You Have Sex In A Relationship?

Ultimately, the answer to this question comes only through communication, understanding, and respect. While sex can strengthen relationships, healthy relationships can lead to more sex. Sex is good. It's fun, healthy, and is one of life's reasons to celebrate. On its own, however, it is not the strongest foundation for a relationship. Intimacy in all of its aspects builds excellent relationships. If we rephrase the question as "how often should you be intimate in a relationship?" the answer is much more clear: all the time.


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