Is sex really that important in a relationship? The answer isn’t as simple as you might expect and varies across relationships.

Sex is important in a relationship because it can help you feel better about your connection with your partner. Various research also indicates that it can improve happiness and boost mental health.

If you and your partner feel the same way about abstinence, your relationship can survive without sex. If you both feel a healthy connection, have emotional intimacy, and don’t mind not having intercourse, it could work out.

But, if one of you isn’t OK with refraining, this may pose issues for your relationship.

If there is a difference in expectations for intercourse in your relationship it’s important that both of you respect one another’s desires. Having open communication and understanding each other’s sex drive may help you find common ground.

There are many physical and mental benefits of sex in a relationship, all of them improving your overall physical and mental well-being. Some of the benefits of having sex include the following:

  • reduced anxiety
  • reduces tension after an argument
  • less physical pain
  • increased intimacy
  • better sleep
  • lower blood pressure

There are further benefits when you experience sexual satisfaction, including:

  • increased trust
  • emotional healing
  • wanting to have more frequent sex
  • building familiarity with yourself and your partner
  • boosts self-esteem and confidence
  • boosts cognitive function
  • feelings of relationship security

The more you have sex with your partner, the more sexual satisfaction you’ll experience. But there isn’t a specific frequency for how often you should have sex because it varies for every relationship.

The best way to gauge how often you should have sex is to consider each of your libidos, also known as sex drive.

Consider having an open conversation to determine how often both of you would like to engage in sexual intercourse and find an average of the two. This way, both of you feel satisfied.

If one of you has a concern about the frequency, it may indicate an unfair average. This can happen unexpectedly with changes in sex drive.

Frequency of sex in average couples by age

Research shows that adults have sex an average of 54 times each year, but each situation depends on a variety of factors. It also differs by age, with those in their 20s having sex around 80 times yearly and those in their 50s experiencing a decline.

2020 research estimates that nearly 31% of men and 19% of women between 18 and 24 were sexually inactive over the previous year.

For people aged 25 to 34, 14.1% of men and 12.6% of women were sexually inactive.

Similarly, those between the ages of 35 and 44 had 8% of sexually inactive men and 8.5% of women.

There are many potential causes for changes in sex drive, and they vary for every situation and relationship. Some possible issues include the following:

  • libido differences
  • stress
  • big life changes like childbirth, menopause, new job, job loss, or grief
  • medications
  • mental health concerns
  • infertility
  • health issues
  • hormonal imbalances
  • relationship problems like infidelity, emotional affairs, or trauma

If you or your partner feels that you don’t have enough sex, consider discussing expectations and issues that make it hard to meet one another’s needs.

Try to be non-judgmental and sympathetic, and work on negotiating something that feels fair to both of you. It’s not always easy for someone to talk about sex, especially regarding inadequacy or shame, so try to be mindful of your partner’s feelings when bringing it up.

You’ll also want to pick the best time to talk about it so you can feel both comfortable and focused enough to have a beneficial discussion.

Some tips for increasing the frequency of sex include:

  • Make it fun: Sometimes it’s hard to get in the mood for sex or for discussing sex but making it fun can help. You can find games that involve discussing sexual fantasies or new positions you can try.
  • Talk with a professional: You can seek guidance from a sex therapist or couples’ counselor to help you and your partner work through whatever is causing the infrequency.
  • Showing physical affection: Consider holding your partner’s hand or rubbing their shoulders as you walk by.
  • Relax together: Spending quality time relaxing together can help increase how often you have intercourse. Do something you both enjoy that will help you relax and focus on connecting during this time.

Sex vs. intimacy

The difference between sex and intimacy is that intimacy is when you feel close and connected in your relationship and doesn’t require intercourse or physical contact.

Sex is one form of intimacy, but it isn’t the only form.

Some of the ways you can build intimacy with your partner include:

  • hugging and kissing frequently
  • having meaningful conversation
  • holding hands
  • cuddling and physical contact
  • giving massages
  • having date nights
  • doing things together that you both enjoy
  • making eye contact for prolonged periods
Was this helpful?

Every relationship is different, so there’s no specific frequency for how often you should have sex. But sex is important in most relationships, so don’t be afraid to discuss it with your partner.

Tips, like increasing physical affection or seeking professional support, can help you increase the frequency of sex in your relationship and boost satisfaction.