5 Common Misconceptions About Sex In Relationships
In therapy, many individuals and couples timidly make statements and ask questions regarding their sex life. Much of the time what they say (as with the quotes below) have clear underlying assumptions and expectations about sex that have been communicated to them through our society for years.
“Our sex life isn’t great, but we’ve been together for eight years so…” - I.E. I'm settling for our sub-par sex life because the honeymoon period doesn't last forever.
“I've noticed that I've been more interested in having sex lately than my boyfriend is, should I be worried?" - I.E. Men are supposed to have a higher sex drive so there must be something wrong.
"Sometimes I just don't feel into it, but I want him to be happy." - I.E. I fake my pleasure because it's important that we both orgasm.
I want to address 5 very common and unfortunate myths about sex in relationships that lead to much of the stress surrounding sexual intimacy. My hope is that reading these will help you and your partner have clearer expectations as well as more open and honest communication about what you hope for in the bedroom.
1. Happy couples have sex at least X times a month.
How many times did you have sex last month? Once? Four times? Ten? Not at all? Are you satisfied with that number? If you and your partner can both answer yes to this question, then that is all that matters. There is no formula for how often a couple should be having sex to feel happy and connected. But if you and/or your partner are not happy with how often you're having sex, then it's time to talk about that.
Everybody's sexual desire fluctuates over time and it's not uncommon for long-term partners to want sex at different times. How often are you and your partner hungry or ready to go to bed at exactly the same time? Sexual appetite isn't much different, most of us just don't know how to talk about it. Therefore, if you want to be having more (or less) sex, communication is vital in assuring that each of your needs are being met.
It's important to realize, however, that the quality of your sexual pleasure is much more important than the quantity. Plenty of research has shown that just one positive sexual experience in a week leads to more couple satisfaction than having sex everyday where not much effort is put into the experience. So set the mood, take your time, coach each other on what you enjoy, and don't immediately jump out of bed after.
2. Men have a higher sex drive than women.
There is nothing wrong with you, your partner, or your relationship just because the woman in the relationship wants more sex than the man. I have found this to be one of the most damaging myths about sex because of the shame it causes both individuals in the relationship when the man isn't initiating sex all of the time. The man feels inadequate and emasculated because he isn't living up to society's version of masculinity. The woman feels insecure because she believes her man isn't attracted to her anymore. It is important that this misconception is corrected for all relationships, same-sex as well, because the fact is that libido varies between all men and women.
3. Sex is best if it is spontaneous.
Yes, spontaneous sex when you're both lusting after each other and in an excited playful mood can be fantastic. Sometimes it truly does happen organically like it does in the movies and it's magical! But sometimes it doesn't. We all get busy, tired, emotional, and preoccupied, leading to a lower frequency and quality of intimacy.
Rather than hoping for a spontaneous exotic experience right when the two of you get home from work (for example), warm your partner up to it throughout the day or even schedule it in. Yes, scheduling sex can indeed be sexy. You can even call it your "sex day." Letting sexual tension build throughout the day will make the love making all the more enjoyable. Whether you have a whole day free together or just a couple of hours, take advantage of the time leading up to sex. Read myth #4 to learn more.
4. An orgasm is the goal of sex.
Sex is about pleasure. An orgasm is the by-product of pleasure.
Get more out of your sexual experience. Don't jump straight into bed and focus purely on each other's fun bits as they do in porn. Exploring each other and trying different things, rather than rushing to the destination (orgasm), is what leads to better connection and enjoyment. Changing your goal from orgasm to exploration will also guard against disappointment since both partners climaxing is not always guaranteed. Enjoy each other's company, have a glass of wine or take a shower together to relax, spend more time kissing and caressing, compliment each other, and experiment. Both your relationship and your privates will be thankful that you did!
5. The honeymoon period of a relationship doesn't last forever.
It's true that your sex life with your partner will change over time. But the change does not have to be negative! In fact, sex can and will get better over time if you communicate with each other and continue to nurture your relationship. When you have greater emotional intimacy, your ability to have greater physical intimacy increases. So keep showing curiousity about your partner as well as your own sensuality. Take control of your sex life and make it what you want it to be.