What’s Love Got To Do With It? More On Sex, Love, And Relationships

Margie Nichols, Ph.D.By Margie Nichols, Ph.D.

In a previous post I wrote about Jack Morin’s research on long-term couples who still have regular, satisfying sex lives.  Like Morin, in both my career and personal life I’ve seen great relationships with lousy sex and vice versa.   I’ve seen high passion give way to boredom, but sometimes – I’ve seen couples whose sexual relationships grew, evolved, and stayed satisfying and even transcendental.  And I agree with Jack’s conclusions that the biggest obstacles that prevent couples from maintaining a vibrant sex life are overly romanticized myths about sex, love, and relationships.  So in this post and several others I’m going to start unpacking the most common – and destructive – fairy tales we’ve  absorbed from the culture.

Here we go, in no particular order:

  1. Maintaining  a good, regular sex life is crucial to a relationship.  

Yes, even though I am writing here about how to have a good sex life – the above statement is a myth. There are plenty of sexless marriages.And they aren’t all unhappy.Some involve arrangements for one or both partner to get sex outside the relationship; in others, where both partners have low sex drives, sex simply drops out of the equation. Long term relationships serve many functions, and sex isn’t that important for many people. If you are one of those people – and you are sure your partner feels the same way- don’t feel ashamed or worried that sex doesn’t figure high on your ‘to do’ list.Different strokes for different folks.

2)’Normal’ Couples Have Sex at Least Once a Month/Once a Week/ Once a Day

Most sex surveys show that the average couple has sex two to four times per month.And Jack Morin included weekly sex in his definition of ‘good’ sex for his study subjects.But a satisfying sex life isn’t just about frequency.It’s about having enjoyable sex when you DO have sex.The worst thing you can do is make sex into another responsibility.Sometimes less is more.But, as with all sexual issues, talk to your partner honestly about frequency, and talk about your needs and desires without worrying about how much sex other people are having.What matters is that you and your mate both feel good about the amount of sex you have.

3)It’s Not Sex Unless There’s Penetration and Both of Us Come

It’s not just about orgasm, and penetration isn’t necessary.  A satisfying     sexual encounter might involve mutual masturbation alone.  One or both partners might come – or not.  Intercourse isn’t ‘better’ than other sex acts.  In fact, this myth creates problems because it sets unrealistic expectations, and makes sex into an act fraught with anxiety and responsibility.  Some people don’t orgasm regularly, some don’t care.  Even people who love penetration don’t usually want it in every sexual encounter. There are times you want ‘easy’ sex with little physical effort, and occasions when you feel like a sexual athlete. The sex acts that ‘count’ are – whatever consensual ones you choose, whenever you want them.

WATCH FOR NEXT WEEK’S MYTHS ABOUT WHERE SEXUAL PROBLEMS COME FROM, WHY YOU’LL WAIT FOREVER FOR ‘SPONTANEOUS’ SEX, AND WHAT CAUSES SEX TO DECLINE AFTER THE INFATUATION

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