When it comes to sex and relationships, definitely one of the most common concerns voiced by clients is whether they are having enough sex. In essence, what they really want to know is: "Am I normal?" We humans seem to have an obsession with what is normal.
So then, what’s a ‘normal’ amount for a person to be having? In response to the question of what is normal frequency of sexual activity, we don’t know – unless all you want is a purely statistical report - the average based on psychological studies and surveys on how often people demographically similar to you have sex. For this question, the Australian Study of Health and Relationships 2 (http://www.ashr.edu.au/), released in 2014 provides some answers. According to this study, people in heterosexual relationships have sex an average of 1.4 times per week, young couples are more sexually active, with people in their 20s reporting having sex 2.1 times a week. Australians in their 60s have sex an average of once a week. Even so, averages mean that there are some people above and some people below any given number. When we are talking about human characteristics and behaviour, we know there is a huge variation.
Although ‘normal’ is basically a statistical term for what’s average or typical, in ordinary usage it has a judgemental and moralistic implication. That is, there is something wrong with you if you’re not doing what most other people are doing. This connotation mainly serves to increase our anxiety and puts enormous pressure on individuals and couples to pep up their sex life.
A widespread problem these days is the inability of couples to agree on how often to make love. This is a very sensitive topic for both men and women. In most of these cases, there is no basis on which to say that one partner’s desire is abnormally high or the other’s is abnormally low, but this discrepancy is causing huge problems in relationships. Bad feelings and name-calling are typical when one person doesn’t like his or her partner’s level of sexual interest.
Even though many couples find it difficult to accept, it’s actually normal and even healthy to have differences. Just because you and your partner don’t have the same preferences or don’t agree on when and how sex is to occur does not necessarily mean that anything is wrong with either of you. It just means that the two of you are going to have to negotiate a workable solution to your differences.
At the end of the day, averages don’t help decide the question of what is right for a person or a couple. That’s because the frequency of sex is not equated with how satisfied couples are with their sex lives and even less so to love, happiness and fulfilment, especially for couples who have been together for a long time. If both parties are happy having sex three times a day, then that is a satisfactory agreement. Similarly, if a couple both feel okay about sex once a month, then it’s ample. So what is ‘normal’ is actually irrelevant. In the end, the more empowering and most satisfying approach is to accept your sexuality on your own terms and decide what amount is right for you.