How often do normal couples have sex?
As frequently or infrequently as they want.
This question is erroneously based on the idea that there is some number, or even a range, that we have to hit in order to be normal. It ain’t so. A healthy, happy sexual relationship is one in which both parties are comfortable with what goes on in their bedroom and how often, not how close their schedule is to some national or global average.
Generally, people asking this question are coming from one of two places: either they are self-conscious about whether they are “normal” or not, or they are uncomfortable that their partner seems to want something different than they do and are trying to bolster their own position as the “normal” one. Let’s take a look at each one of these in turn.
Am I normal?
Human sexuality is really a wide spectrum. There are lots of ways that people experience their sexual natures, and the majority of them are simply personal preference that everyone is entitled to. Perhaps you have met people who enjoy eating some very unusual dishes. Actor Scott Foley publicly discussed his loved for peanut butter and eggs, and while we may turn our noses up at it, we don’t consider him a freak for his gustatory preference, and neither does he.
And hey, if peanut butter and eggs turns you on in bedroom too, that’s your personal preference. Get a willing partner, and there’s nothing wrong with it. Again, much less important than what most people do is what you and your partner do together.
Similarly, if your libido is such that you’re ready for sex every day, and you have a partner who’s game, you’re in good shape, whether or not you are statistically in the middle of the bell curve. And if you and your partner are both happy with an intimate encounter only rarely, that’s fine too.
Of course, it is worth mentioning that while there is a wide range of sexual behavior that is nobody’s business but your own, there are some sexual preferences that might warrant further thought and professional help:
- Sexual attraction to children. This may be somewhat “normal” in the sense of “common,” since there are a not-insignificant number of people who experience this. But it is not “normal” in the sense of healthy functioning – psychologically healthy human beings are attracted to mates of child-bearing age, not children – and it is certainly immoral and illegal to pursue sexual relationships with children.
- Sexual preference for violence, pain, or coercion. Hurting others is not an healthy expression of sexuality. Even if you find someone who is willing to go along with it (for free or for pay), it is not healthy to thrive on cruelty to others.
- No sexual interest at all. There is debate as to whether asexuality is a variation of normal human sexuality; nonetheless, most healthy people have some interest in sex. If you don’t, there are many possible reasons apart from being inherently asexual, including physical impediments, mental illness, past or present trauma, and others. Before giving up on a sexual life, these are worth exploring.
- Insatiable sexual drive. If you don’t seem to feel sexually satisfied no matter how much you’re getting, you are probably already aware that there is a problem, since you might find you are devoting altogether too much time to seeking and having sex. You may also feel out of control and unable to stop having sex (or masturbating). As in many other areas of life, if you are not in control, there is a problem here, and help is called for.
Generally speaking, outside of things that are harmful, coercive, unmanageable or illegal, you don’t have to worry if what you’re doing is normal. It doesn’t matter. Enjoy what you do and how often you do it, and don’t compare yourself to others (as if you can even know what others do in their bedrooms and when). (If you have anxiety in general about what others think of you, therapy might help you deal with that too.)
Is my partner normal?
The other major impetus for seeking information about what is a “normal” sex life is when people feel uncomfortable about what their partner is asking (pressuring?) them for and they are seeking to justify their own position. “See? Google says you’re not normal, so stop asking for that!”
This approach tends not to be very effective. For starters, your partner is unlikely to experience a change/increase/decrease in sexual desire as a result of finding out what other people do or don’t do, any more than Scott Foley would stop enjoying the taste of peanut butter and eggs simply because other people don’t.
Second, it doesn’t address the real problem, which is not that your partner wants X (assuming it’s not one of those problematic inclinations mentioned above), but rather that they want X and you don’t. It is a very common issue for couples when one wants more sex than the other. (Really, you’re not the only ones. Ask any marriage counselor. We see this all the time.)
Fixing this up is not about convincing your partner that your way is the correct way, or that they are being unreasonable in wanting sex every single day or only once a month. Instead, fixing the issue is about having conversations (plural) about the challenge at hand and working out options that help everyone get what they need. If both of you agree that once a month is fine, or once a week or once a day, then that is your normal and you don’t have to resort to proving yourself based on others’ preferences.
Of course, it’s not so easy to figure out what to do when one of you is a once-a-month kind of person and the other is a once-a-day kind of person. But it’s still not a dealbreaker. As I mentioned, marriage counselors work with this kind of problem frequently. You can definitely reach out to us if this is something you’re struggling with and we can help you work through it so that you can maintain a happy relationship, sex life and all.
In short, stop thinking about how often “normal” couples have sex and think instead about what works for you and your partner. That’s the only normal that matters.
To learn more about our couples counseling services, click here.