From my column in Body+Soul
Question: Hoping you can shed some light. Two months ago I decided to end a wonderful relationship, due to my partner's desire to have sex twice a day. He told me this is normal for him, and that he had it like that in his last two long-term relationships. It all came to a head when he told me he wasn’t ready for us to live together and be defacto. I felt I was being sexually used, and called it quits. But we still love one another and talk regularly and have huge chemistry between us. Can you help me? Is it normal in your 50s to be wanting sex twice a day, and how can we find a compromise?
What’s normal is that everyone is different! There are so many elements to sex – the lead-up, initiation, timing, activities, pace, rhythm, location, atmosphere, props, aftercare – you’re always going to be different. Every couple faces the challenge of co-creating a sex life that suits you both.
But since you ask, let’s focus on the frequency point for a moment. In regard to what’s ‘normal’ in terms of frequency, the Australian Study of Health and Relationship a few years ago came up with an average of 1.4 times per week for partnered people. That’s about six times a month. Body+Soul also did a survey recently and discovered that 8% of respondents had sex most days (5% of those in their 50s), and another 36% answered that they had sex 1-3 times a week. At the other end of the scale, 15% said they never had sex and 20% said they had sex less than every three months (32% of those in their 50s). So, you can see there is a broad range of ‘normal’.
Your partner is definitely at the far end of frequency. If the average is six times a month and he’s wanting it 60 times a month, that’s ten times the average! Which is not to say it’s too much, only that if it’s more than you want, then there needs to be some understanding and co-creating.
Do you know why he wants it so often? Is it that he finds you so goddamn gorgeous that he can’t get enough of you? If so, while that’s flattering, perhaps what he really wants is connection and intimacy. In which case, twice daily bouts of quality conversation and cuddling could satisfy his needs, with less frequent genital engagement. Or is it that he has the urge to ejaculate twice a day and it actually has very little desire for you (as much as I’m sure he does like sex with you). In which case, masturbation is the best way to scratch that itch, and leave the partnered activity to when you’re both wanting connection and mutual pleasure. Or maybe he’s bored or stressed in life and uses orgasms like other people eat chocolate bars, that is, it’s something that gives him a quick fix and makes him feel better. In which case I suggest he do some soul searching about life, love and happiness, and stop imposing his dysfunctional needs on you.
And what about you? You mention nothing of your own needs and desires in your question. You talk more about your annoyance at his needs and feeling used if you meet them. You need to also know why you have sex. How do you like to get in the mood? How do you like to approach or be approached? What turns you on and what turns you off? Would you be open to frequent bouts of cuddling, only some of which turn into PIV (penis in vagina activity)? Until you can answer these questions, you can’t co-create a love-life together.
It sounds as though you two do love and desire each other. That’s a great start. So, forget about the quantity and get talking about the how and the what and the why. That’s what’s important. You will always be different, whether it’s with this partner or with someone else. The key to having a great sex life is being aware of yourself and being aware of your partner, and that requires talking about it openly, without feelings of entitlement or obligation. If you struggle to do this together, work with a qualified professional to help with the communicating. In this way you will get understanding, creativity and lots of love, intimacy, pleasure and great sex!