Counting Coitus | does sexual frequency matter?
Sexual frequency is often on our minds when we think of our relationship. But does it really matter? Is it all in the numbers?
A while ago I was sitting in the sun having a drink with one of my best pals.
“So, how’s it with Danielle? Still going strong?”
“It’s great! And sex is fantastic. Plus, it’s regular and often. Three times a week at least. Not bad, right?”
I was asking my friend about his current relationship. He has been in and out of relationships for a few years, but for the last twelve months or so he appears to have settled with a tall, blonde single-mum. It looks like it’s working and he seems satisfied. And yet… he somehow lingered on the word ‘right’, making it more than just a rhetorical question.
“I mean, after more than a year, having sex three time a week isn’t half-bad…”
He was clearly waiting for my verdict. My friend was basically asking me: Am I having enough sex? Or rather: Does the amount of sex I have with my partner qualify as a ‘good sex-life’?
I took a long sip of my GT. It was my turn to linger. These are very tricky questions.
Sexual frequency: why do men count?
We, men, are incorrigible. Even over forty we have the tendency to fall into the pubescent trap of counting the frequency of sex. How many times am I having it? And, if we’re not in a monogamous relationship, the follow-up question is: how many women have I slept with so far? If not exactly that, something very similar to it.
Now, here’s the thing. There is no World Championship of Sex and no Quality Seal for a Great Sex Life which is measured by sexual frequency. Therefore, there is no right answer!
Aliki and I have sex pretty much everyday. And often it is multiple times per session. Sometimes we even joke about being sex-crazed. But that does not automatically mean that we have a greater or better sex life than my friend and his three-times-a-week. And yet, it is so easy to fall into that trap. I know it is for me.
Even at my age and with my experience, somehere in the hidden corridors of my mind there is a counter. And it ticks!
Do women count?
On the rare days when Aliki and I are too tired to engage in any sexual activity, one or the other often jokes about this being ‘the beginning of the end of our sex life’. It is a loaded joke. It comes from an innate fear that if our sexual frequency starts decreasing, it might slide downhill until it hits the valley of shadows where sex lives shrivel and die. We know that this is unlikely to happen. But still we check each other out.
Does that mean that women also count?
Apparently it depends. Aliki agrees that there is a minimum of activity necessary: a sort of threshold below which a relationship stops being a sexual one and becomes simply a close friendship. Yet, for her, it is not so much quantity as quality that counts. And the feeling of being wanted throughout the day, not only during sex. It is basically one whole, long foreplay!
My friend Mara, confirms. “When it is quality sex, the more you have it, the more want it. It’s how it works for me”, she told me when I asked her. In other words, it’s not exactly that women don’t count. They just count differently. They gauge the quality rather than the frequency.
Of course, like everything else, these are very personal variables. What’s qualitative sex and where the threshold is depends on each individual and on the balance that each couple finds.
“ When it is quality sex,
the more you have it, the more you want it.”
But what does really count?
Sexual frequency is apparently a rather hot topic between couples. And of course, as one would expect, there is no clearly defined ‘normal’. What is crucial is what is fine for both. So, if my friend is fine with sex three times a week and so is his partner, they’re bound to have a great sex life. It gets a High Quality Seal from the Sexual Frequency Approval Board. If, however, he wants it everyday of the week and his partner is happy with four times a week, even if the total is more than three-a-week, it might still feel disgruntled!
Both Aliki and I have lived this imbalance in previous relationships. For many years I was in a relationship with a partner who was happy with a frequency way below my needs. It was tough. It made me feel starved and her, most probably, inadequate.
As I have had the opportunity to say in other posts, there is one sure way of making it work: talk about sex. In talking you get to understand each others fantasies, limits and needs. That is the basis of a good, healthy relationship. And it should be a space where no judgment is handed down and no pressure is applied.
* * * *
“I’m happy for you. You seem happy… it’s been a while I haven’t seen you talk about a girl you’re dating like that.” I replied, having made up my mind.
‘I am! It’s great, man! I never thought sex could be so good even after a year!’
In the end, who’s counting?