Does a Longer Relationship = Less Sex?
Teesha Morgan sets the record straight
So, you’ve been in a relationship for five years, and you’ve noticed you are in a sexual rut. Cue the couple next to you, together for three months and can’t keep their hands off each other. Is there something wrong with you? Should you be having sex more often? We spoke with sex therapist and relationship expert Teesha Morgan, working together with K-Y Brand, about whether a loss of passion is normal… and how you can bring intimacy back in your relationship!
How often do couples have sex, when compared to those in newer relationships?
“It really depends a lot on the couple, as it may vary greatly,” says Morgan. “Some people who have been together for 20+ years are still having sex 4-5 times per week, while other couples who are still in the honeymoon phase of their marriage are satisfied with once every week or two (especially if a new child has entered the scene).” Research does show, however, that couples who are new to each other often have sex more frequently than those who are past that initial infatuation stage. “That’s not to say that the sex is better or more fulfilling in the beginning,” she assures. “Just [that it’s] more frequent on average.”
What are some of the causes of this?
“In the initial infatuation stage, everything our partner does is new and exciting, especially in the bedroom,” explains the expert. “We see them through a clouded lens of love and, therefore, tend to overlook—or not even see—their flaws.” This produces the “cloud nine” effect most of us feel when experiencing new love. This is a biological reaction and, with time, our bodies produce less of these endorphins and other chemicals. “We begin to come off the high that new love brings, and we start to see our partner for what they really are, flaws and all,” she says. Sex then slowly begins to lose its novelty and starts to become predictable.
Is less sex necessarily a bad thing and something to be concerned about?
Not necessarily, says the expert. “People often get overly concerned with statistics and wonder if they are living up to the Jones’ next door.” Morgan says that it’s important to remember that quality and quantity are two different things, that judging your sex life based on frequency doesn’t mean much.
If sex in couples who have been in relationships for longer does die down, are they more likely to be affectionate in other ways?
That depends on the couple. “Some relationships thrive on touch and need a solid physical interaction, whether that takes the form of cuddling, massages, sex, or simple hand holding,” says Morgan, “while other relationships base their connection less on touch.” Research does show, however, that couples who kiss for at least one minute per day—regardless of how long they’ve been together—report feeling happier and more satisfied with their relationships. “Touch (and general physical/sexual intimacy) is, therefore, a very important factor in not only relieving stress, but feeling both loved and connected to another person,” she states.
Is scheduling sex a good idea for couples?
Morgan says that scheduling sex is a very good idea: “With the stresses of everyday life, we often don’t prioritize sex, causing a trend towards decreased intimacy and quality time spent together.” Many people think scheduling takes the spontaneity out of sex, but doing so actually allows for intimacy to grow. By penciling in sex sessions, Morgan says that “you are professing the importance of that physical connection with your partner, and you are not allowing that foundation to fall when life gets hectic.”
What fun ideas do you suggest for couples to bring more intimacy in their relationship?
Morgan suggests creating a sexual bucket list. “Once a month, take an item from the list and make it happen. This melds novelty and excitement with planning, so the spark is retained,” she recommends. For more ideas to spice up your sex life, she recommends checking out the K-Y Intimacy Experiment. “It has tons of great ideas for mixing it up between the sheets, and it has homework assignments you can download for free and try at home with your partner.”
Are people who accept that sex goes downhill in the long-run happier than those who think sex will be great forever?
“Although research says that married women in particular have sex less frequently, engage in less oral sex, and are less likely to experience orgasm,” notes Morgan, “they are more likely to derive physical and emotional satisfaction from sex, than are women in dating relationships.”
She also notes that most couples that are satisfied and happy with their sexual relationship view their sex life as playful and exciting, rather serious and brimming with passion. “Therefore, romance and passion, or the highs of a new dating romance, aren’t necessarily required in order to maintain a great sex life,” says Morgan. “Playfulness, openness to trying new things, and good communication are far more important to attaining a healthy and fulfilling sex life.”