How Often Should You Have Sex?

I recently resurrected my online dating profile.

I’m back on a mission to find a suitable match and I’m taking it semi-seriously.

One of the things which I tend to do, is look at the match percentage with potential candidates. I love this feature. Saves me some “interview questions” when we actually meet.

One very interesting question which I come across is:

Once you move in with your partner, how often would you have sex?

There are predetermined answers to choose from so one cannot get too creative there. 

All the men I came across so far answered the exact same answer: once a day.

Once a day! Come on guys, are you serious?

I’m not talking about when you just move in and you are thrilled by the whole adventure and so forth. I’m talking from the day you move in and throughout your relationship. Once a day???

The correct answer, which everyone in their right mind is ought to know, is once a week. But don’t take it from me. You can read the experts advice, too:

sex is no longer associated with well-being at a frequency of more than once a week

If you’re still not convinced, let me elaborate to get you on board.

Why once a week is the optimal frequency for partnered sex in a long term relationship.

Disclaimer: You will probably have sex more often or less often at different phases during your long-term relationship. Don’t stress about it. It’s all fun and totally normal and healthy.
The “once-a-week” frequency is an average over many years.

Now that I got the disclaimer out of the way, this is what you need to consider.

Sex takes time.

If you look at studies like this one or this one, you might be under the impression that 10–30 minutes of having sex is too long, and that the ideal amount of time for sex is 7–13 minutes.

But sex in these studies is defined as the time from penetration to male ejaculation.

I can’t tell you how disgusted I am by this definition.

It highlights everything that is wrong in our understanding of sex.

Sex does not start with penetration. It also doesn’t end with man’s ejaculation.

But for the purpose of this article, I will use this definition. I will also use a term that I detest— foreplay — to describe the time before penetration.

If you see foreplay as a way to get prepared for “the real thing”, you are overlooking an extensive array of pleasurable sensations. 

Foreplay, as a rule of thumb, should take a while. The point is, you need to immerse yourself in the joy it brings to your (and your partner’s) body.

When you take foreplay into account, and when you consider things like having a shower before or after sex, cuddling and lingering in each other’s arms after sex — all these things take time.

Do you really think that sex every day is sustainable?

How much spare time do you have every day?

Oh, and a side note. When done right, both partners can enjoy penetration that lasts much longer than 13 minutes. Much much longer. A penetration style that doesn’t involve constant thrusting and “pumping” can easily take one hour. A gentle penetration, with slow movements followed by moments of stillness, which allow for subtle sensations to be observed, is something that every couple can bask in. 

If you have truly satisfying sex, you don’t need it every day.

This one is a big claim.

If you don’t believe this claim, it’s probably because you think that having an orgasm equals satisfying sex. Because orgasms can easily feel like they are satisfying.

However, deep satisfaction comes not from an orgasm, but from feeling connected. Connected to your body, to your partner, and to whatever you might experience during sex.

When sex is practiced in a way that resembles a race for achieving an orgasm, a vicious cycle can develop. In her book Cupid’s Poisoned Arrow, author Marnia Robinson claims:

…chasing the dopamine surges related to … affectionless sexual stimulation is more likely to lead to recurring dissatisfaction than happiness.

Since it is not truly satisfying, people can want to have sex again shortly after the high of the previous orgasm has diminished. 

I suspect those men from the dating site, who would like to have sex every day with a partner, have rarely — if ever — practiced slow, mindful, connecting sex.

The case for once a week.

My last relationship started with a two-day sex session.

We stopped for food, a little sleep here and there, and a conversation or two. But as a whole, those two days felt like a steady-paced hike in a serene natural landscape.

When we went for a week-long holiday shortly after, we surely had sex every day.

This is not uncommon at the start of relationships.

Excitement levels are high, hormones are firing up everywhere, it’s awesome. 

I’m sure you’ll agree, though, that you can’t expect this to last for too long.

When your relationship gets familiar, and the high is replaced by mundane everyday life, sex becomes less frequent.

But if you appreciate your relationship, making sex a priority is imperative.

So the formula of “once a week” provides us with stability and predictability.

You might prefer sex to be spontaneous and not predictable, that’s fair enough. You can always introduce novelty and pleasurable surprises in the bedroom. It’s just the timing for sex that needs to be agreed on in advance.

Plus, you can still have spontaneous sex on top of it. If you have the time, the drive, and the motivation, go for it.

But don’t be surprised if once a week will fill your cup well enough so you wouldn’t even feel like having it more often.