How to assess your sex life

Many people wonder how their sexual frequency and satisfaction compare to others. Pairs who do not see eye-to-eye about their sexual life may seek some normative standards by which to gauge their own practices. How can couples do so in a way that reassures them, quells their fears and unites them in feeling pleased about their love life?

Most writers and researchers of human sexuality promote sex as a healthy and bonding activity. In quantifying sexual frequency, The National Opinion Research Center stated, “The average American couple reports having sex 66 times a year.”

Professor Helen Fisher of Rutgers University describes regular sexual activity between couples as a healthy endeavor that enhances one’s physical, emotional and relational wellbeing. She states, “Sex with someone you love is recommended for many reasons: It is good for your health and good for your relationship. It is good for respiration, muscles and bladder control. It is a fine antidepressant and it can renew your energy.”

The relationship enhancement component of sexual activity occurs when each mate experiences pleasure as he/she pleasures the other. It is perhaps the clearest exchange of mutuality and positive inter-dependence as it produces oxytocin – the “bonding hormone”.

Dr. Marty Klein writes, “Though The Joy Of Sex puts sex at the center of a healthy relationship, I believe that some couples are intimate with little or no sex, as others use sex as a way of periodically cementing an already satisfying love.”

It is easy to be confused by the span of opinions. I would propose that pairs assess their love life as they jointly do any other aspect of their union. The issue is not what the statistics are, what your friends report, or what your fantasy creates but how you can build a mutually pleasing style and frequency of sexual activity that satisfies both of you. Yes – it’s doable.

First, please dispense with the notion that what others tell you about their sex lives is necessarily true. Since there is shame associated with failing to meet a perceived standard, many people choose to alter their truth to impress their friends.

Discussing with others your partner’s sexual behavior, preferences and practices may be a violation of privacy unless your mate has given his/her consent to share this information

Since obtaining “norms”, other people’s reported habits, statistics or testaments about sexuality are unlikely to positively affect your love life, and since time together often alters many of your personal, physical and relational preferences, it is wise for you to schedule periodic conversations about your sexual life at designated intervals and listen to each other with respect and accommodating spirit in order to create the best intimate life for both of you.

Assess your sex life:

  • Abstain from seeking standard rules for your unique love life.
  • Regard changes in sexual interest, frequency, enthusiasm or style as a normal evolution with familiarity and time.
  • Negotiate needed changes to your mutual satisfaction.

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About Author

Offra Gerstein, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in clinical practice in Santa Cruz, California for over 25 years, and specializes in relationship issues for couples and individuals for improved quality of life.

Her work includes: mate selection, marriage, long term relationships, gay and lesbian couples, work relationships, parenting issues, family interactions, friendships, and conflict resolutions.

Offra has lectured extensively to various groups, conducted support groups for several organizations, and has been writing a weekly column “Relationship Matters” for the Santa Cruz Sentinel since 2001.

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