Honey Du-ty: How Much Sex is Enough
June 17, 2019
#Adulting is a column hosted by our contributor Kimieabreak that explores what it means to be a 30-something woman trying to get by in today’s society. It features her personal musings, interviews, and research into navigating various aspects of this stage of life during this unique time in history.
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Are you having the sex you want to or the sex you think you need to be having
If you’re partnered up, the likelihood that you’re having sex is high. The amount of sex may seem average, but the frequency that you actually want it is probably even lower than that. So what is “normal” when it comes to a woman’s sex drive?
I’ve been racking my brain and judging my lady bits with this question for the last couple of years. I’ve confided in girlfriends, been to sex therapists, had open conversations with my partner about it, but it wasn’t until I made a Facebook post requesting input for this article that I discovered what I feared to be a freakishly low libido was actually a battle cry for a massive amount of women.
This all started with a catch-up session with my girlfriends. We’re all in various forms of long term relationships, some newly married, some celebrating 13+ years together, and some with kids tipping the double digits and others entering the terrible twos. The consensus was that everyone seemed to be having a lot more sex than me.
This started to really affect me when I began doubting my libido. It felt like weeks could go by before I even noticed how much time had passed between hanky panky sessions. My partner and I have a no pressure agreement when it comes to sex. We both want to be all about it and have no, “It’s been a min, I guess it’s time we should do it” pressure. But I could tell that even though my partner was being patient, it had been a “min”, and it did feel like it was “time”. Do you remember that scene in Jurassic Park where the woman is pumping the breaker to juice the electric fence buttons? That’s how it feels to make the switch of getting out of my head and into my body. I’m in my head a lot, I’m always thinking and I often don’t even pay attention to the rest of my body. There’s this crazy disconnect from like my neck down. There’s no more spectrum. It’s on or off. The people that I spoke to that are more attuned to themselves seem to idle at a 5-7 my idle is at a hard 0.
What was wrong with me? I’m still very much attracted to my man. He’s gorgeous and a more than generous and attentive lover. I hit the fucking jackpot. We have incredible communication but this was becoming an issue in our relationship. He is a more sexual creature than me by nature, but why couldn’t I keep up the way I did a few months/years ago.
Is this just the normal pace of a nearly 7-year relationship? Are my hormones off? The birth control that I started at 13 couldn’t possibly be reacting the same in my maturing body? Our sex was great but why didn’t I want it more?
The decline in my libido did seem to coincide with some big changes in my personal life. I started seeing a therapist after the death of my brother and we chalked my lack of desire up to “life stress”. It also didn’t seem to help that we ended up moving states to start a whole new life adventure together whilst having my big 30th birthday all within a few months. So yea, maybe there were a few “life stresses”.
My therapist recommended I get my hormones checked but everything was all clear. So why was I so weird? Was I broken? We dug into mommy/daddy issues for good measure, but I couldn’t help question if this is just where a long term relationship starts to plateau, or if it was something else.
I started seeing a sex therapist to get to the bottom of what was wrong with me. I included my partner in couples’ therapy (highly recommend) and concluded that especially with our arrangement this wasn’t so much an issue of low libido, as it was just different sex drives.
But I still kept feeling so “not normal”. I was never the promiscuous one out of my friends. Never had those wild single lady adventures like most people I know. I began questioning if I might be A-sexual?
Out of all my girlfriends, only one confessed to me that she and her fiancé weren’t, in fact, pounding the walls down with their steamy encounters every other day like the rest of assumed humanity. Success! I had found a fellow. Having just one person that I could relate to made me feel like so much less of a sexless freak. What a relief. I wanted to know now that I had found one if there might be others, or if we were indeed the only two weirdos in the world. Which would be fine because at least
I we weren’t alone in feeling this way.
This time, when I extended my reach online, I was overwhelmed by the responses I got.
And not just from women, men really wanted to be included too. I was unaware of what a hot topic this actually is and how many fellow freaks I was about to find.
My biggest question to anyone who answered was not, “How much sex are you having?” but how much sex do you WANT to be having”
My fellow freaks, you’ll be tickled to hear that we are in fact not alone! The overwhelming majority of women that reached out to me reported that if it were up to them to initiate or wait until they were horny enough to crave sex, their desire would be 1-3 times a month. But because it was their way of showing their husbands the love language they knew their partners needed, they would have sex at least once or twice a week.
My initial reaction was relief. Relief that I was finally seeing myself in other women. I felt validated. But then a sense of anger and protest began to rage inside of me that so many women were ultimately satisfying their partners “love language” at the expense of their sexual autonomy.
It turns out that a lot of my online-long-term-relationship gals seemed to never line up with their partner’s sexual timing. If it were up to them they would have more actual Netflix and CHILLING instead of quickies after work.
This overwhelming theme of service and duty to maintain a marriage by keeping up the status quo didn’t necessarily reflect the otherwise healthier parts of their partnerships.
99% of the people—men and women—who reached out to me brought up “love languages”. This concept is based on the book by Gary Chapman “The 5 love languages”: Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, Physical Touch.
People tend to show and feel love in one of these five ways. Complications occur when your languages don’t always line up.
What if your love language is gestures (Gifts) or compliments (Words of Affirmation) and his is physical touch? The sense of “duty” to show your man you care would probably end up in some type of physical act.
The men who chimed in expressed that they too feel the “duty” to make sure their partners love languages are also met. Say you ask your man for a foot massage (that he wouldn’t generally offer up), you might feel a need to reciprocate that with his version of Physical Touch— let’s say a quickie, and the cycle continues.
I have to extend my appreciation to the men that reached out to me for this article. The insight they offered and the need to feel heard is something that I want to acknowledge.
Justin 33 offered up his experience by expressing
“I think it’s an interesting subject that doesn’t get talked about enough. Then I found myself in a committed and loving relationship on its ninth year, and our sex life just wasn’t enough for me. I’d been patient throughout the kids being born and postpartum and all of that, but it was finally catching up to me. I needed sex and I couldn’t keep having the same conversation. At what point do you give up and stop trying and go where the attention is? The constant denial does a real number on confidence. I mean, I could guilt my way into pity sex, but that’s just not me and not what I wanted.
Then, of course, the more you want/need it, the more desperate it comes across. I was on the verge of throwing a fit for lack of sex and there’s nothing less sexy than a grown man throwing a fit about not getting sex.
I truly felt lost. I felt like I was just there to provide and nothing else. It was eating away at me and I was getting bitter. What about me was wrong? How can I make her want me? Why doesn’t she want me?
At the point where I thought it would just make more sense to give up and follow the trail of attention from outsiders, I decide to invest heavily in a weekend away for us and some much needed one-on-one time. It helped kickstart the sex life again, but it is still a constant process. The feelings of being unwanted and unattractive are real for men too. When your partner is fully capable health-wise and just seems uninterested, it hurts.
I don’t expect her drive to match mine, but we have to constantly work to make sure the sex in the relationship isn’t just “ok, we’ve hit the 6-8 week mark, he’s going to get upset if I don’t oblige.”
Now I would love to extend this topic to a certified sex therapist for a future article but what can we do about the disconnect now?
First, know that you are NOT alone. The overwhelming majority of women that reached out to me felt that they were more OK without than with. The women that tended to have higher sex drives, had more physical lifestyles (dancers, parkour, people that are more in touch with their bodies on a daily basis).
After the initial flood of feedback came in I prompted my eager confessors with some follow up questions.
I wanted to know, “What type of work do you do, and how many hours a week?” and “Do you have kids/other obligations?” to see if that might shed light on some type of lifestyle commonality.
Needless to say, you girls are busy! Kids, careers, fur babies and being on top of your couple game is more than enough to make even an eager woman choose a glass of red at the end of the day instead of…going to bed.
It was no surprise that the more that was happening in one’s life (work, kids, other), the less time, energy, interest was left for our lady bosses downstairs. Then to add the impact of unintentional pressure that my ladies feel by knowing that it was “time” but not being in the mood to meet their partners’ needs, would kill their sex-drive even more, leading to a slippery slope of duty and frustration.
I was sent a link to an article by the good men project, which goes on to explain that, “Many American men are trapped in an epidemic of sexual scarcity thinking. The moment we have sex, we are on to advocating for the next opportunity. Are we going there? Will I get there? Can we have sex, yet?” This is a topic worth bringing up to your partner.
My guys were eager to express that they could go multiple times a day if it were up to them, and at least 3 times a week. On the flipside, I had guys tell me that they felt they couldn’t keep up with their ladies wants and needs, which I was more surprised to hear.
Their ladies reached out to me and the only common denominator that I could determine was that these women are on the physically active spectrum or somehow involved in the Cos-Play world. (LARPing – live-action role-playing, makeup, and theater) Something about artistic expression or maybe a sense of imaginative role-playing has them tapped into their bodies and turns them on more.
All of this to say that some like it hot, and others like it a comfortable 72 degrees.
My doctorate-like Facebook research has led me to conclude that high or low libido, there’s no 100% “normal.” Some people love to fuck. Others fucking love to cuddle.
The most important thing is to be able to communicate with your partner. Open the conversations about your needs and how to have them met in a healthy and consensual way. Consider counseling. Having someone mediate your emotions can help clarify intentions and frustrations.
I’m so grateful to have found some peace in knowing that my tribe is out there. That I’m not alone. Know that you’re not alone. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to reach out to friends, professionals, strangers, or people on the other side of a computer screen. You’ll be surprised at how your vulnerability will inspire others to share their deepest, darkest, but loudest secrets.
How to Sex up your Sexy
- I recently joined a Pole Fitness Burlesque dance studio in town, which I’m super pumped about. A girlfriend and I (whom since I’ve been writing this article has also revealed that she is also on the same sextrum spectrum as me) decided to tap into our inner goddesses together. It’s been great fun to get some sexy inspirations from our teachers (who we have a total girl crush on) learn some simple moves and most importantly reconnect with our bodies. How we feel and how damn good we actually look with a little confidence and a bend and snap.
- Plan a date night: More foreplay. Suggest trying something new play around with what turns you on.
- Start with a conversation: “ I’ve been having a really difficult time feeling sexual lately and…
- Gently bring up the issue without blaming or accusing the other person.
- Follow these tips on how to have the best sex of your life this year.