It’s hard to set a standard on how often you should be having sex. It’s even harder to meet that standard if you’ve set one. Sex can start to feel like a chore and cause intimacy issues in your relationship.
If you are finding that you are having less sex with your partner, you might think at first “is this just the honeymoon phase ending?” Or you could be worried that your spouse is not attracted to you anymore. Or inversely, you may not be interested in your spouse anymore.
The truth is, the frequency at which we have sex is totally personal. You may hear friends or people on TV bragging about having hot sex many times a day, if you’re having sex once a week or less that's also very normal.
This blog will dive into some of the common reasons your bedroom is experiencing a lack of sex and how to get sexual intimacy back where you want it.
Is it normal to not have a lot of sex?
It’s inevitable that couples go through periods where they have a lot of sex, and then periods when we have not much at all. If life gets in the way, or work gets more stressful, it’s only natural that sex starts to slip down our priority list.
On top of that, as we move out of the initial lusty honeymoon phase, our sexual desire does naturally start to wax and wane, which makes keeping up the sexual side of our relationships more difficult. Dr. Britney Blair, a sex therapist in San Francisco, says that sexual frequency can decrease after 6 - 18 months into a relationship.
So, if you’re someone worried about being in a sexless relationship, don’t panic. At Lover, we believe there are solutions, and these will leave you feeling happier and more confident in yourself and your relationships.
What does a sexless marriage or relationship mean?
Recent studies have defined a sexless relationship as having sex 10 times or less in a year*. So, if you’re one of the people wondering “is once a month a sexless marriage” it looks like you’re safe!
Newsweek magazine found that between 15 and 20% of relationships are sexless. And, 10% of couples under 50 had not had sex in the last year*.
This phenomenon is occurring across all sexual relationships too - with a recent study showing that the number of people having sex weekly went from 46% in 2000 to 36% in 2016*.
Why do sexless relationships happen?
There are so many reasons why we have less sex.
One of the most common causes is simply not understanding the way our sexual desire works. Often, humans do not have set high or low sex drives, but actually, everyone has different desire styles.
Let’s break that down.
There are two types of desire: Responsive and Spontaneous. As you might guess, responsive desire might be what you call a low sex drive, but actually, it's just a desire type that works more like an oven, it needs some time to warm up and requires an external stimulus to be in the mood.
The opposite, or what you might have once called a high sex drive, is Spontaneous desire. This type of desire comes on quickly and sometimes out of nowhere. It requires no external stimulus to be interested in having sex.
For many women and some men, as they move out of the honeymoon phase (that's around the 6 - 18 month mark), their desire style transitions. It goes from spontaneous desire when the want for sex comes seemingly from nowhere and changes to Responsive desire. Responsive requires more external arousal in order for the desire for sex to follow, which can take a little more time and effort.
Sadly, many couples don’t understand this transition happens, or even that there is such a thing as sexual desire styles! And it can lead a partner to feel a little deflated when their partner always rejects their advances.
Your spouse might seem to avoid intimacy with you which might make you feel like you are isolated on a private island. But romantic white sand beaches are not appealing when left on your own.
Why does my partner not want to have sex with me?
The simple answer is often that they haven’t been turned on yet, to allow their desire to come 'online'. You can read more about desire styles in our article: here.
Having a different level of desire from a partner is actually very common. It’s termed “discrepant desire”, and it’s thought to affect up to 80% of couples. If this resonates with you, we'd recommend taking the time to work out what gets your partner aroused.
It may be worth setting up an initial appointment with a sex therapist or a marriage counselor. Sex therapy can also be accessible to you in alternative formats, such as this pleasure app.
We also have external factors that can take a toll on our sex life. Stress, family, work commitments, even tiredness! All of these make it much more difficult for us to make time for, and be in the mood for sex.
We also might not think of it, but your phones are a huge blocker.
On a regular evening, you climb into bed, your partner is lying next to you (typically a great time to get it on). But, instead, you both pick up your phones and reply to those last few emails, or scroll through an endless feed of pictures and videos on social media. Sound familiar? A simple solution is to simply leave your phones outside of the bedroom.
Or alternatively, use your phone for good use! Watch some porn together... or google some new things you are both turned on by and would try in bed together. This might even include intimacy without sex, like kinky foreplay or another erotic activity.
Another reason for sexless relationships is simply not having the sex you want. Because if you don’t want or enjoy the sex you’re having, it’s no surprise you’re not having it.
Ask yourself, do I get excited about the sex I’m having?
Exploring your turnons, sexual habits, sexual history, and desire type can help determine why you are having certain issues. To work these out, self-reflection and exploration are necessary. To start, try out this quiz.
For further guidance to get your intimate relationship back on track - head over to the Lover app. We have various courses designed by a team of clinical psychologists - designed to help with many sexual concerns.
1. American behavior gathered by the national opinion research council at the University of Chicago.
2. Brito, Janet Ph.D., LCSW, CST (January 13, 202). “Why You’re Having Less Sex with Your Partner — and How to Get Back Into It.” Healthline.com