D.A. Wolf gets into the question everyone wonders about and nobody wants to be the first to ask.
Come on. It never really gets old, does it? The subject of sex – who’s doing it, how they’re doing it, how often they’re doing it, not to mention where. Your sex life. My sex life. The neighbor with the three dogs or the hot instructor in your Yoga class.
So let’s get to the burning question. How much sex is too much sex?
Now, now. You might say that topic has been done to (the little) death. But here’s what amuses me. If you Google “How much sex is too much” and leave it at that, what comes next leads to an intriguing discussion.
There’s how much sex is too much for a woman, how much sex is too much for a man, how much sex is too much with my boyfriend (or girlfriend), how much sex is too much to ask for, how much sex is too much for one night.
And then there’s the kicker – at least to some of us – how much sex is too much for marriage.
That last variation?
Tragic. Don’t you think so? Having been married (and yes, divorced), I see it as a sorry state of affairs when I consider how starry-eyed we are walking down the aisle, and how gargantuan the gulf becomes when we’re discussing the marital mattress.
Even The Google reflects our cultural conundrum: sex in romantic relationships is one thing, and in marriage – quite another.
As to frequency of sexual activity, browsing the web turns up articles running the gamut from medically minded reasons women don’t want sex to why women stop having sex with Hubby Dearest. And let’s not forget that we’re all subject to conventional wisdom, which advises that we must like and want sex – men, as much and as often as possible, and women – when we’re in love, and preferably, legally married.
The reality of our sexual appetites?
Those of us who have been with the same partner for years are aware of the pitfalls of routine – not only in our amorous antics, but “take out the trash” and “what’s for dinner” aren’t conducive to ratcheting up the romance.
Then there’s stress, fatigue, and physical discomforts. Hormones? That, too. And it all combines to tank the ladies’ libido – temporarily or for longer periods. At least, it does for me.
And so I willingly confess that there are times I’m not in the mood. I’m turned off to sex, but I’m never turned off to affection, and I’m a believer in sexual generosity.
So what does that mean, exactly? Indulging in a quickie? A hand with a “job?” Or are we forced into negotiating and nagging, scheduling and scheming? Do we turn a blind eye? Do we consider looking elsewhere? And when things pick up again and resume a normal rhythm, are we talking Standard Saturday Night Sex – or can we hope for something more enticing?
Can we agree that stage, age, and parenting status are factors?
If we’re talking about sexual activity early in marriage, with babies and bottles and hapless hormones, the primary caregiver is going to be beat. Guys, if that’s your woman – give her a break if she needs one, and she probably will.
Sex in our twenties or thirties may be acrobatic. In our forties and fifties, something else again. Older? Men may have the Little Blue Pill, but women may be worried about aging bodies and sagging skin, or they may feel sexier and more adventurous than ever – relieved at last from pregnancy worries, and enjoying the privacy afforded in Empty Nest.
A few more variations that affect our frequency?
- We may be hungry for sex on its own (Say hello to spiking hormones!).
- We may desire sex with affection. (Traditionalists will be pleased.)
- We may want the affection, but no thanks to the sex. (Definitely tricky; again recommending “generosity” as strategy.)
- A 20-year age gap? What’s fine when you’re 30 and your spouse is 50 may not be viable at 50 and 70.
- What if one partner is healthy, and the other suffers a debilitating condition?
In those last two cases of one active, healthy spouse, how do you feel about going outside the couple? Do we condemn the healthy partner to years of a sexless marriage? Do we allow for “alternatives” while remaining married, or condone leaving a long-term union instead?
Why is it still taboo – even with spouses – to talk about what we desire, much less to think, slink, and kink outside the box? Shouldn’t we be trying to keep things fresh – talking, listening and playing – exploring our fantasies – as well as each other?
One thing I learned in marriage, and I confess, I learned it the hard way: not talking means not solving. And in my journey since divorce, I’ve gotten better at expressing what I need, more open in my willingness to explore, and sexual quantity as well as quality is the delightful surprise at the end of that rainbow.
But I will say this clearly. Whatever I may be comfortable with, if the man in my life wants and needs more sex, I’d be a damn fool not to pay attention, and not to be loving. Likewise, if I’m not getting what I need, I’d be crazy to look the other way and pretend it doesn’t matter when in fact, it does.
Returning to the wisdom of The Almighty Google, perhaps the answer to how much sex is too much sex is as simple as “it depends.” My premise may be askew – knowing that as our partners change, as our needs change, as our bodies change, as life throws us for a loop or offers us a graceful stretch of road – the nature of our pleasures and their frequency will evolve.
So here’s to changing the question from “how much sex is too much sex” – regardless of with whom and in what configuration – and asking instead “how much sex is just right” – with the rest of the phrase, for the two of us, here and now.