22 Men And Women in Long-Term Relationships Get Real About How Often They Have Sex

Whether or not you're having "enough," a sex therapist shares what every couple can do to make the most of intimate moments.

When many couples start dating, they can't keep their hands off each other. As their relationship progresses, however, those same hot-and-heavy couples tend to have less sex over time. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, explains New York City sex therapist and author of Love Worth Making: How to Have Ridiculously Great Sex in a Long-Lasting Relationship, Stephen Snyder, MD. 

While most couples do have "their highest frequency of sex when they're just starting out as a couple," that's often because sex in the early stages of a relationship provides two things: excitement and emotional reassurance. Once you and your partner transition into an established, long-term relationship, you become comfortable with one another, so you don't need to reassure each other of your excitement or emotional connection every day. 

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That makes total sense when you consider the everyday obligations each partner has on top of their obligations in the relationship, though that isn't how the concept of sexual frequency (or lack thereof) is often portrayed in movies and on television. "Porn is the big culprit, since porn is all about camera angles. Few people are portrayed in porn accessing the kind of dreamy, dumb, and happy states of mind necessary for really good sex," he explains. "The media's preoccupation with orgasms, and with various forms of sexual novelty and adventure, also lead people in the wrong direction."

That said, Snyder does note, "Most sex therapists recommend that a couple should have sex at least once a week, since sex less than once a week risks putting you on the slippery slope to a sexless relationship." While that may be the doctor's order, how many couples are actually able to do this? Reddit user SpecialAgentValerian wanted to know the answer, so he posed the question, "Those in long term relationships, how often do you have sex?" to the "Ask Men" subreddit. 

The responses often varied, as did the reasoning behind them.  

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To get women's take on this, I posed a similar question to Reddit's "Ask Women" forum.

Here are some of my favorite responses:  

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If you'd like to increase the amount of intimacy in your relationship, Dr. Snyder has some solutions every couple can use to create a fulfilling sex life together.

"I also recommend that couples take a minute or two to get excited together on a regular basis, even at times when they know they're not going to be having sex. For instance, leaving for work in the morning," he explains, on top of his suggestion to have once-weekly sex. "... I call this 'simmering.' It's a great way to keep your erotic connection during times when you're too busy, stressed, or exhausted to have sex. Sometimes it's more the simmering than the sex that keeps a couple in the game." This could be anything from a quick, but passionate goodbye kiss, to a flirty chat about the sex you're going to have as soon as you get home — both give you something sexy to think about all day long. 

Snyder also suggests mindfulness training "for couples who need to make more room for sensual awareness in their lives and relationships." He offers some mindfulness exercises in his book, but, he notes, "The most important thing ... is to eliminate the word 'work' from your sexual vocabulary. There's no such thing as work when it comes to sex." 

One way he encourages couples to separate the concepts of 'sex' and 'work' is to tune in to how "psychologically aroused" they are during sex. "Some people just go through the motions, without really letting themselves get psychologically aroused. It's not just a matter of getting hard or wet," he says. Psychological arousal has less to do with the physicality of the act and far more to do with the state of mind with which you approach sex. "Authentic arousal has nothing to do with orgasm," he concludes. "For most people, it's a relaxed, contented state of mind." So the next time you make "bedroom eyes" at your partner, make sure you've both got bedroom on the brain, as well. 

Cover image via Wesley Quinn on Unsplash

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