Why We Need To Rethink Our Attitude Towards Relationship Sex
Quality not quantity.
Looking back on old relationships, it seemed I could always measure my happiness (as well as my own interest in the other person) by the quantity of sex we were having. I felt as if my dying interest and cliched growing resentment towards the end of the relationship directly correlated with the gradually fewer and more spaced apart crosses on the sex graph of my life. And why wouldn’t I? It’s usually the case, and every break up I had seen my friends go through seemed to be cued by that same old ultimate dooming phrase: “You know… we’re just not having sex anymore...,” they would hesitantly utter as they stared back at me with a distant look of exhaustion in their eyes. But whilst this same old prompt for heartbreak will always firmly hold its place in the fragile world of modern relationships, the amount of times it comes up might actually be a serious problem in itself.
You can imagine it now: just about every relationship councilor asking a couple of set-the-scene questions before, BAM, they throw down the classic and very much expected, “Are you still having a lot of sex?”. And of course, what they’re really trying to directly, succinctly and non-cringingly ask is, “Do you still find each other exciting and attractive?”. And those are very different questions. Because the thing is, what actually is a lot of sex? And what’s more, whose place is it to tell you that sexual abundance is the key to happiness in your own relationship? The seemingly universal cliche that strong couples are having shitloads of sex is frankly no use to anyone. Here’s why.
Let’s start off by saying that expecting endless and consistent bedroom fun just doesn’t respect the ebbs and flows of real life, of sexuality, of libido, of illness and of stress. The how-much-sex question throws up a ton of its own problems; putting a number – and therefore an expectation – on how much sex two people should be having. In reality, a happy and trusting relationship steers its own unique route to sexual satisfaction, without the restrictions of extraneous figures. What’s more, if you’re having sex to get it done and keep up the numbers, then the whole practice of having sex in the first place becomes dangerously unhealthy. Because of course, the desire needs to be fully present on both sides for the sex to be mutually satisfying. What's more, if the want isn’t there on both sides, it’s extremely important to respect that. Real life and relationships can throw up a whole load of good reasons to put off getting under the sheets for another night; it’s being able to maturely and communicatively negotiate those ebbs and flows together that leads to a healthy bond.
Perhaps the right way to think about sex is less about quantity and more about quality. That means asking questions about respect, about libido, about trust, about excitement and ultimately, how these things are affecting the overall satisfaction of both people. Is your sexual relationship as honest, respectful and fun as the rest of your relationship? If not, why not? That’s something you can develop and work on together. It’s very true that quantity does form a large part of the satisfaction of many couples, but this is just a small piece of the complex picture of a couple’s overall sexual happiness, not its defining feature.
What I’m saying is, while it's true that less sex is often a symptom of a dying relationship – the result of dying attraction, excitement and trust – the numbers don’t really spin the other way. A shitload of sex just isn’t the exclusive answer to all-time happiness. It’s time to stop having sex to tick the daily box on the societal checklist, and instead, give a little more of a fuck about nurturing our relationship’s all-round sexual satisfaction. See you at sexual nirvana.
Next up, here's how to stop fighting about sex.