When asked what you want to improve about your sex life, the number one response was frequency. Besides pleasure and procreation, why is wanting more sex so common and what can you do about it?
Where does our drive to have sex come from?
Sex has been an essential part of humanity since the beginning of time. For centuries our understanding of the purpose of sex was limited to the pursuit of pleasure and procreation. But humans are complex creatures and sex is a complex subject. While the research around human sexuality has evolved over time, it wasn’t until 2007 that scientists started to understand a more comprehensive view of why sex is so important to our society and us personally. In their research, Cindy Meston and David Buss found that there are 4 main reasons why humans seek out sex:
- Physical benefits: These include pleasure, but also stress relief, desirability, and looking for new physical experiences.
- Goal attainment: This includes having a baby, improving social status, or seeking revenge.
- Emotional reasons: Think things like love, attachment, and emotional security.
- Insecurities: This includes using sex as a way to boost self esteem or feeling pressured or required to have sex with a partner.
How much sex is ‘normal’?
There is no magic number when it comes to sexual frequency and what feels like a ‘normal’ amount will vary widely from one individual to another. One study found that on average, adult American’s have sex 54 times per year, or roughly once a week. This is down from an average of 63 times per year a decade ago, likely due to a higher percentage of adults being unpartnered in recent years. Other studies of a similar scale, however, found that the frequency of sex for adults can range from an average of once a month to twice a week.
The reality is that there are endless factors affecting how often you may or may not be having sex (hello quarantine) and it’s natural for sexual activity to fluctuate. Mental health, physical health, relationship status, stress, sleep, and physical proximity all play a role in sex drive.
What to do if your sex life isn’t where you want it?
Putting too much stock in a number is more likely to frustrate than satisfy, but there are ways to take action if you feel like your sex life could use a boost.
- Communicate with your partner: Speaking with your partner is the first step to better understanding what might be getting in the way of your sexual intimacy. Try initiating the conversation somewhere neutral (i.e. not in the bedroom) to avoid the added pressure and emotions associated with where you would typically have sex.
- Focus on yourself: One way to overcome insecurities around sex is to gain a better understanding of your own body. Masturbation is a powerful tool to connect with your desires while boosting your mood and relieving stress and anxiety. Do this in private to be sure that you can enjoy the moment free from distraction.
- Try something new: Humans naturally seek novelty when it comes to sex, which can be a great way to ignite the spark and increase intimacy. This includes exploring science-backed ways to spice up your sex life.
Overall, changes in your sex life are natural and to be expected. If you are concerned that a lack of sex is interfering with your relationship and don’t know where to turn, consider speaking with a sex therapist to see how they can help.