As much as I adore sex, I don’t think aiming for a nightly bout is the healthiest or smartest of choices.
Last week I read a Huffington Post article called “5 Reasons You Should Have Sex With Your Husband Every Night.”** The author, Meg Conley, wrote the piece after realizing that she and her husband hadn’t had sex in a over a week, which was long for them, and makes some fantastic points. Routine sex helps women feel feminine, she asserts, provides enjoyment, enhances intimacy, relieves stress and allows a woman to treat her man like a man so he’ll act like one. As you might guess, I wasn’t hip on that last bit (which is section three in the article). As the last line summarizes, “talk about a small investment and big returns,” this makes sex seem like currency. And although Conley presents women as beautifully sexual creatures given ideal circumstances, I’d have preferred, “Let humans be humans.”
**Because the article I’m responding to focuses on straight married couples, this post will, too—but much of could apply to GLBT couples and singles, too. I’ve also decided to focus on daily, rather than nightly, sex; timing of sex is a whole different topic.
I don’t want to attack Conley’s piece, particularly since I find much of it sex-positive and empowering—we need more of that from and for women! I’m also grateful that her article made me think, which is what strong writing does. Today I’d simply like to share those thoughts.
The only reason to have sex every day, in my opinion, is because you and your partner want to. Sexual wants and needs vary among individuals and couples, regardless of gender—and many perceived gender differences in sexual desire derive from society and culture, not physiology. Women are more likely to put up emotional walls that bar sexual desire because of common myths, for example, such as sex is a guy thing and “dirty,” and feeling as though we don’t measure up to society’s harsh and unrealistic standards of sexiness. Addressing these obstacles and others, such as relationship rockiness and stress, frees us up to embrace and express our sexuality and desires as we see fit, whether that involves sex daily, weekly or less.
Prioritizing sex can help remind us that we’re sexual creatures when the world or life’s complexities has suggested otherwise and help keep the daily grind from leaving no time for, well, THE SCRUMPTIOUS GRIND! ;) But I also see benefits we might only gain by not having sex every day, anticipation being the biggie. Missing sex for a time and experiencing giddy, “I want you!” buildup can make sex even hotter—particularly if we allow ourselves to fantasize about it in the meantime. As women, it’s important to allow ourselves to want and think about sex as often as we’re inclined, and recognize that the notion that men naturally think about sex constantly while women seldom do is a damaging myth. On the whole, we’re just as sexual and equally, if not more, capable of sexual arousal and pleasure than men. (Remember, Masters of Sex is non-fiction! Thank goodness. :))
I’ve personally gone through relatively long periods of daily sex and stretches without. Sex daily can be AWESOME, but it also raises the risk of some amount of monotony. Sure, it’ll still bring pleasure, if we’re healthy and pursuing it for the right reasons—not simply to be a “good wife” or faking orgasms. But as recent research shows, women are more likely to tire of sexual monogamy than men; we tend to crave more excitement and change. So while I’m sure there are exceptions, if you decide to give daily sex a go, your guy may consistently dig it while you gradually grow somewhat bored or even resentful. Sort of like eating the same delicious food every day, you both may have to make serious efforts to spice things up. That’s not necessarily negative, of course, and could be fun, but if you’re the only one wanting more or different, you may have to drop some not-so-subtle hints…
I also find setting standards or rules about sex risky, regardless of the specifics. If we strive for daily sex, we could end up feeling pressured to have it simply because we’re “supposed to.” It also sets us up for perceived failure. For a couple who’s been having sex, say, once per month, nightly sex is a steep goal, and the loftier the goal, the more likely we are to fall short, give up and feel crummy. Also, suggesting that the woman, versus the couple, should aim for daily sex could cause her to feel pretty (or even more) inadequate and self-conscious, even if she doesn’t take the challenge on. I recommend taking gradual steps toward an improved sex life as a couple instead. The specifics depend on your current norm and what you both wish to strengthen or change.
There is no “normal” when it comes to sex frequency, just what works best for you as a couple.
Sex should evolve naturally for couples from emotional and physical intimacy and natural desires we best let flow. Rather than set aside time every day for sex, aim to connect with your partner on an intimate level—emotionally, physically or both—routinely, whether you have five or 50 available minutes to do so. Will sex happen? If you’re both healthy, communicative and comfortable with your sexuality, quite possibly! But not always, and that’s okay, too. There are countless ways to enjoy sensual intimacy without actually having intercourse. The more intimacy and sexual self-comfort we cultivate, the more and, most importantly, better sex we’re likely to have.
If you do set your sights on having more sex, keep in mind that many factors commonly tinker with libido, including:
- Poor body image and self-esteem (biggies for women)
- Medications, including birth control pills
- Sleep loss (huge for women and men)
- Hormonal shifts associated with menstruation, pregnancy and menopause
- Illnesses, such as depression and hypothyroidism
- Vaginal dryness and pain during sex
If you’re experiencing low libido, seek professional guidance. Most causes be remedied through medical treatment or lifestyle shifts, and simple awareness goes a long way. Unless you’re asexual, a lack of desire for sex isn’t natural and probably reflects an underlying cause.
Lastly, whether you desire sex once, twice, seven or many more times within a timeframe, please don’t criticize yourself over it. Doing so only perpetuates negativity in a world still lacking of sex-positivity, particularly for women. If you and your partner want to have sex every day, go for it! If not, that’s perfectly fine, too. Allowing ourselves flexibility and growing in-tune with our sexual needs and wants are far more important than how often we get down and
An insightful reader here recently commented: “I often feel sexual pressure, not because I physically have an enormous need for sex but because there’s a mentality that if you’re not having sex something’s wrong with you.” That should never be the case. Pop culture and the media often present female sexuality in over-the-top, porn-like ways, while women-depowering beliefs about our sexuality run rampant in daily life. I know men and women who’ve gone months or even years with very little, if any, sex due to reasons such as being single—and there’s nothing wrong with them. (I do recommend that you single gals masturbate, however, especially if you’re not into casual sex. Celebrating and staying connected with our sexuality is important.)
Owning and celebrating our sexuality means being as sexual we desire, which doesn’t merely—or even necessarily—mean having sex. Thinking about sex, talking about sex, recognizing its importance and naturalness and embracing our bodies and sensuality all count. I believe sexuality should be at least as prevalent in our spirits as what happens beneath the sheets. Assuming we take care of ourselves, that sexy, naked awesomeness appears as mind-blowing frosting.
How do you feel about the notion of aiming for daily (or nightly) sex? What other steps have you taken to enhance your love and sex life? I love hearing from you! ♥
When I saw the article I had the typical male reaction “hey, this is awesome almost kinda sorta science, I’ll shoot off the link in an email to my wife!” We both laughed.
Being bi-polar, one of the by products is hyper-sexuality. It’s the way I’m wired and my wife knew what she was signing up for. Could I do it everyday, multiple times? Yes. Do I want this as a reality? Yes. But there’s another person in the relationship and we have 3 kids.
Our life behind closed doors is very healthy and I’m grateful. But people get headaches, work overtime, deal with sick kids, a teenager going to college, and assorted stresses. Missing a couple of nights isn’t the worst thing in the world. We talked about the article, talked about us, and swore we’ll never schedule anything. And it’s working, for us.
August McLaughlin says
Sounds like you two have an awesome, communicative relationship — kudos! I’d dig that fantasy-type reality, too, but as you said, it’s not realistic for most people.
Satin Sheet Diva says
I’ve got, what I consider to be, a relatively high sex drive. I could happily have some sort of physical intimacy with my partner daily – whether it involve intercourse or not, as long as there are orgasms, I’m a happy camper. On the flip side, I do so enjoy being teased; being kept on the edge for days is just as much fun as far as I’m concerned. My aim would then be that my partner and I connect deeply at least daily and let the sex fall where it may. I’m way more desirable of maintaining an emotionally healthy and trust based bond than I am with “doing” it. lol
August McLaughlin says
LOL We must be soul sisters! I’m with you all the way, no pun intended. Connectedness is what intimacy is all about—and playfulness, teasing, etc., makes it all more fun and fulfilling.
Kassandra Lamb says
Thank you for bringing up the pressure issue, August. For me and a lot of women of my generation, feeling like we have to have sex is a turn off. When I was in college, a lot of guys would use the line “What’s the matter? Are you some kind of prude?” to pressure young women into having sex. If you weren’t willing, eager even, to sleep with every guy who came onto you, then you weren’t part of the hip generation. And for survivors of sexual abuse (my specialty as a therapist), feeling pressured to have sex is a major trigger.
August McLaughlin says
Ugh, that line! I’m so sorry you and so many women have had to face such pressure. I think the whole prude versus slut, women being perceived as one or the other, still lingers.
I’m so glad you brought up abuse, another factor that keeps countless women (1 in 4, I’ve heard?) from enjoying healthy sex lives and intimacy to some degree. Thanks for the work you do!
We are lucky if we find the time and energy for once a month. For the most part, we are OK with that though.
August McLaughlin says
I’m sure you’re far from alone there, Lisa! And accepting the best we can manage is so important.
Natalie Hartford says
Fabulous post!!! I think you said it best when you said it’s about finding what you as a couple need/want. There are no hard and fast rules and I find when we try to put them on or live by them, that can sap the enjoyment right out of it.
Hubby and I sometimes struggle to get on the same page since I have a much lower need than him. I often put “pressure”on myself because you are right, I feel inadequate and like a failure as a wife….but I realize those are thoughts/feelings that reside only in my head and aren’t hubby’s (he is the most understanding partner). I have come to learn that a huge part of my libido is about keeping myself in check, staying positive and giving myself understanding and patience which then allows it to thrive and flourish. Gotta stay out of my head. LOL!
I also find that momentum is huge. Once we get on a good roll of connecting intimately on a regular basis, it seems to flow more naturally and regularly….
Love the post…
August McLaughlin says
Aw. You two are such a wonderful team! It’s so important to see sexual needs and desires as a couple-thing as well as individual, and respect variances. One’s never better than the other’s! And you’re so right about the perks of consistency. Much love, lady! You two are inspiring.
Raani York says
Considering the fact that I’m having a long distance relationship of course from the moment we’re together to the moment we will have to separate for an indefinite amount of time, we do have sex as often as we want and feel comfy with. I don’t even think twice about it – because it’s at this times, what seems to be right and feels perfect.
Once we will stay together, and one day this time will come, we still will have to find out what will be good for us.
Jess Witkins says
I can’t help but feel like this “have sex every day” rule is just the latest trend in catchy headlines across women’s magazines and reality shows. Because that’s the main places I’m seeing it. When you read articles by actual sexual health experts, I’ve only ever heard them recommend this as something to potentially try, but more importantly they focus on the couple regaining intimacy with one another – whether that’s trying something new in bed (or out), learning more about what your body likes and dislikes, and as you said, making lifestyle changes that remind us what first love felt like. As an example – holding each other or kissing each other a few seconds longer than what can easily become a routine peck. By hugging or kissing for 20 seconds – your body releases way more endorphins and releases stress. Isn’t that fascinating? It’s right back to what Arianna Huffington says in her book about slowing down – well that goes for our relationships too.
Years ago we resorted to a negotiated schedule for sex. It was modest, one a week. She liked that it fixed a lot of arguments over the subject and I did my utmost to ensure she REALLY enjoyed herself. In a while we renegotiated to twice a week and that morphed into three times a week and then into every other day.
She sat me down and said SHE wanted to take control over our sex life and when we would have sex and to choose what sleepwear she was to wear to bed. She told me outright that she preferred morning sex. She decided to dress seductively for bed EACH night and that we would make love EACH morning.
I had my doubts – I mean I was over fifty at the time and could I keep up to this.
Well seven years later I can and we do – every morning when we are rested and we devote an hour or more to gentle arousal, me giving her oral sex with a vibrator – or what ever it takes and as long as it takes and after she has been well sated then and only then do I permit myself to go further. She likes it and so do I and it NEVER gets stale and even though we do this each day – we both look forward to it.
August McLaughlin says
That’s fantastic, David. So glad you and your wife have cultivated such awesome intimacy and continue to enjoy it! Communicating and working together as you have is obviously paying off. Kudos.