Am I Normal?
There's often this one question we find ourselves constantly asking perhaps when we are alone or maybe when we are with our spouses, with our friends, or with large groups of people. This question helps ground us in reality and serves as a measuring stick to see if we are heading in the right direction. The three word question, "am I normal" represents such a profound need for safety and belonging and is often one of the first questions I am asked as a sex therapist.
We want to know if we are okay, if we are safe in our knowledge and understanding of the world and society. We want to know we belong to and are accepted by society and follow more or less its standards.
The context of this question does vary from person to person, with some clients asking me how often do normal couples have sex or am I normal if I don't like this specific sexual practice.
I will be discussing in several upcoming blog posts how we can define normalcy in a way that allows for flexibility while balancing that with our own specific, unique needs and comfort levels.
Particularly the topic of how frequently couples engage in sex is a popular one. We all want to know what everyone else is doing so that we can gage how normal we are.
Here is some general and specific information to answer some of these questions of how often couples have sex:
On average, the more sexual couples in their 20's, 30's, 40's, and 50's have sex about 1-2 times a week. Couples in the 60+ age range vary as menopause and medications can affect frequency. If you and your spouse are not as sexual it is completely normal to have sex less frequently. This also means that if you are going through a stressful time or a life transition such as the birth of a child, chances are you will not be having sex as much. Additionally, if you or your partner are experiencing any medical issues and/or are taking medication, libido can be heavily affected.
The true answer to this complicated question lies within each of us. What I tell my clients is this: Discover your normal!
This means you want to take into account your and your partner's libidos, menstrual cycle(s), schedules including work, home, and sleep schedules, health, stress levels, and individual preferences. In other words, we figure out what our own unique normal is by first understanding ourselves and what works for us and then communicating and exchanging this information with our partners. The discussion often requires negotiating and compromising so that each partner feels that for the most part (with some exceptions) they are each getting what he or she needs.
To get a better understanding of what works for you and your partner, take some time today to fill out these questions and share your answers with your partner:
1) How often do I want to have sex?
2) How often am I up for having sex? (Notice this does not mean you want it but that you are okay with having it.)
3) When is my favorite time of day to have sex?
4) When is my least favorite time?
5) If I am stressed, what do I need to do first so that I can be fully engaged and present when having sex with my partner?
6) Are there specific times in the month that I do and do not want to have sex? Why?
7) How can I let my partner know in a way that he or she does not feel rejected that the timing is not right for me to have sex? (You can ask your partner for ideas of statements that sound safe for your partner to hear.)
8) How can I indicate to my partner that the timing is right to have sex? (Again, you can ask your partner if they have ideas of what would sound good for them to hear.)