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I asked Australian couples how often they have sex

IMAGE VIA PALOMA WOOL
WORDS BY MAGENTA PORTER

Just how often should you and your partner be having sex?

It’s the question that’s thrown across the dinner table after a few too many wines or asked in hush-hush tones by curious friends: “How often do you guys get it on?” Due to popular culture’s fixation on sex, the frequency of sexual intimacy between couples has always been a hot topic. 

Early 2000s magazines were positively dripping in sex tips, tricks and salacious stories and had us believing that if you weren’t having sex ‘x’ or ‘y’ times a week, there was absolutely something wrong with your relationship. Oh, and if you were having sex every day, there was a whole other set of potential problems that you might be facing. And don’t even talk about having no ‘traditional’ intercourse at all! Abstinence hasn’t been in fashion since the ’50s, darling. 


For more sex advice, head on over to our Life section.


Personally, throughout my complicated dating history sex has never been the ‘be all and end all’ of any relationship or situationship that I’ve been in. I’ve always been in female-male relationships, and the sex life of each of these has varied widely. However, what has been consistent, is the lack of importance or influence that sex has over my feelings towards the men I’m seeing, or more importantly, the health and happiness of the relationship. 

This got me thinking: why do we place so much importance on the quantity of sex we have with our partners when so often, this isn’t an accurate reflection of the health of our relationships? To get to the bottom of it, I asked sex therapist and writer, Laura Miano, why we place so much importance on the amount of sex we ‘should’ be having in a relationship.

Humans love to quantify things, so the frequency becomes a really simple way to gauge how ‘well’ our sex lives are,” Laura wisely noted. But should sex ever be used as an indicator of a relationship’s strength?

“Those who value and genuinely want a ‘good’ sex life (whatever quantity or quality that is), will find that their sexual relationship might massively impact their relationship [on a whole] and thus be a good indicator. Not all couples want this though! Some couples value other things more.”

Building on Laura’s insights, and to find out whether the amount of sex couples are having affects the overall vitality of their relationship, I asked a selection of people in their twenties how often they have sex with their partner. 

What I found out not only debunks the idea that you need to have sex ‘x’ amounts of time a week to be in a loving, caring relationship – it completely blows this age-old myth out of the water. 

The first person I spoke to was Sarah*, a 23-year-old woman who has been dating her partner Jordan, 25, for two and a half years. Sarah and her partner have sex about once a month, with still living at home and busy schedules often making it difficult for them to tee up sexy time. What was interesting to me was that when asked if the frequency of their intimacy has changed over time, Sarah told me that in fact, it’s always been about the same.

“To be honest we’ve always been like this. When we first started dating, I was diagnosed with depression so I never had a sex drive. To this day I still have no libido which sucks,” she explained. 

“I feel like people feel the need to impress when talking about their sex life and brag to one another… My partner and I barely have it, but it doesn’t concern us… the amount of sex [we have] doesn’t dictate our relationship’s strength.” 

Madi, 23, has been dating their girlfriend for one and a half years, with part of their relationship being long distance. They told me that now that they are back living together, they have sex at least three to four times a week. 

“There have been periods when one person has been going through a lot and things might have come to a bit more of a lull… because we’ve been held back by [our] mental health or we just haven’t been feeling too good about our bodies.” 

When I asked Madi if they compare their current relationship and sex life to others, their response was inspiring. “I used to compare because I was very anxious about [wondering] if I was loved enough or if I was good enough, based on how frequently sex would happen with my previous partner. In this relationship… I don’t care about what other people do or how often they’re doing it – if it works for you, that’s fine. My dynamic with my partner is unique and so I don’t see the need to compare it,” Madi shared.

We all know that comparing your sex life to others isn’t exactly helpful or healthy for any of the parties involved. But there is still an air of curiosity that surrounds the sex lives of long-term couples in particular. Surely after a few years, the sex starts to simmer down right? Well, yes and no. 

Liz*, 23 has been in a relationship with her boyfriend of the same age for almost five years, and they have sex about once or twice a week. In her experience, the quantity of sex might settle down over time, but that doesn’t mean that the love you feel for your partner simmers down with it. 

“We both have pretty hectic schedules and sometimes we need to ‘book’ in time to have sex if we’re both really busy,” Liz shared. “When life is going good for both of us, that is when we tend to be intimate more… [the frequency has] definitely fluctuated over time… but intimacy is only one part of a relationship.” 

Describing herself as someone who loves physical touch and the intimacy that sex provides, Liz notes that despite this, throughout her relationship she has learnt that emotional intimacy is a far more important factor in determining the strength of her relationship. 

If I’ve learnt anything from talking to these people, it’s that every single person, every single couple dynamic, is different. There’s no ‘golden number’ of times you should be having sex with your partner each week or month. Rather, you should be valuing the quality of your intimacy over the quantity. And above all, the emotionally intimate bond that you share with your partner is just as, if not more, important than how often you get it on

*Some names have been changed for privacy reasons.

For tips on how to talk to your partner about sex, try this.

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