There is a classic joke that advises newlyweds to put a penny in a jar every time they have sex in the first year of marriage, and then take a penny out every time after that – and the jar will never get emptied. Ha ha, right? (I have seen many variations on this with different denominations of currency. I have never done the calculations, but my guess is that the point remains the same in all the versions.)
There is a widespread myth out there that singles have more fun in the bedroom than marrieds (to include folks in long-term committed relationships of various sorts). The truth is that there is no way that casual sex can compare to what happens when two people work on their intimate life over years and decades.
One-night stands, friends with benefits, short flings – these offer the joy and pleasure of novelty, which is undeniably exciting. (This is why affairs often happen even with partners markedly less attractive than one’s spouse – the excitement of someone new is a powerful draw.)
But novelty always wears off. Always. Which means you either transition into the joy of a long-term relationship, which is not novelty-based, or you keep switching partners. Folks who go with the latter option are not only not very happy, they aren’t even enjoying a better sex life.
The pleasure of novelty only goes so far. The pleasures of a deep relationship – sexually, emotionally, and in many other ways – far outstrip the good feelings novelty offers.
Here’s three reasons married people get more out of their sex lives than singles.
You know what your partner likes and vice versa.
There’s an awful lot of things you can do in bed.
Learning what your spouse likes is not a one-off conversation. It’s an exploration over many years. (Heck, learning what you like is an exploration over many years, but that part in theory you can pick up on your own or with other partners. Learning about your spouse is something you can’t do solo.)
There is a big difference between being touched in the way your partner thinks you’re supposed to like – because they saw it in a porn video, or read it in Cosmo – and being touched in the way you actually like. Practice makes perfect. The experience of being known in this way is intense.
On top of that, knowing exactly how to fire up your spouse is its own pleasure. Just like people enjoy playing sports more the more they develop expertise in it, so too people enjoy their spouses more the more they develop expertise in them.
(That’s not to say that you have a set repertoire of options that you’ll be stuck with. Couples are often surprised and delighted to discover, even after being together for many years, new moves they can try and buttons they can push to great effect. But those make the biggest splash as part of one’s expertise and not as one-off successes.)
You don’t have to worry about impressing anyone.
Getting into a new relationship, while exciting, is also scary. It’s not news that women have tremendous pressure on them to look and act a certain way. They worry about how their body looks, what he will think of it, whether it’s normal, etc. Then there’s the pressure to experience and display certain reactions, to have an orgasm (at the right time), etc. None of these factors contribute to particularly good sex.
Men have pressures too, usually more about performance than about appearance. Men feel pressure to know what they’re doing – guys, remember the terror of fumbling as a teenager to undo a bra strap coolly and quickly? – to be able to “do it right,” to last long enough, and so on.
How can you really enjoy sex when a part of you is worried about how you look and how you’re doing? (Be honest, now – few are the people who truly don’t think at all about what their partner is thinking of them when the clothes come off – at least when it’s a relatively new partner.) Not that that’s necessarily our prime concern, but it’s there, and it’s a drag on true intimate connection. Security is an aphrodisiac.
Of course, it’s true that married people may also struggle with the same concerns and self-consciousness. However, it naturally becomes less of an issue after you’ve been married for 20 years than it was when you were in the courtship phase. Moreover, in a secure relationship there’s the opportunity to have conversations about these issues to help deal with your worries and insecurities.
A deep emotional connection creates sexual enjoyment on a whole new level.
Sex naturally feels good. For most people, sexual stimulation is inherently pleasurable. So yes, it’s possible to enjoy casual sex and not go any deeper than that. But that’s kind of like using your iPhone just for making phone calls.
An iPhone has the capacity to offer you a heck of a lot more than just conversations from afar. You can extol the clear sound, the ease of use, the large quantity of phone numbers you can store, but if that’s all you’re doing with it, you’re missing out on something and you may not even know it.
The emotional, spiritual ecstasy of a profound connection of love expressed in sexual togetherness is an experience that transcends words. People who have developed their emotional and sexual relationship over the long term are enjoying a pleasure that simply isn’t present in a one-night stand.
Note that all these benefits only come with work and effort put into the relationship. The misconceptions about married sex exist because there are certainly many married people out whose sex lives really are boring and lackluster.
A long-term sexual relationship takes work, just like the rest of the relationship does. If you do the work, then you can experience really remarkable things in the bedroom. It takes openness, vulnerability, willingness to change, communication, and a host of other things.
Many couples find their way over time. Others get stuck and need a push. Obviously, many people are reluctant to seek professional help for so personal a problem. There are certainly books and websites (like this one!) that can offer some guidance. But a trained therapist can offer a lot of value, if you can gather up the courage to go speak to someone.
If you aren’t happy with your current sex life, consider reaching out for help. We can offer expertise and empathy without judgment, so that you can get to that deeper, awesome level of relationship connection. It’s worth the effort!
Read more about our couples counseling services here..