Sex And Your Long-Term Relationship. Not Enough Or Too Much?


A study published this month by Australian researchers finds that both men and women are unhappy by the frequency of sex they’re having (or not having) in long-term relationships.

“The real issue here, I think, is that couples are not finding enough time for sex,’’ said Dr. Smith. “I don’t think you can keep forcing more and more activities in people’s lives and still expect them to take the time it takes to have sex, let alone good-quality sex.”

Read the New York Times article here. And please leave your comments below. Will you change anything about the way you currently talk to your partner about sex?

Join our conversation (81 Comments).
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  1. 21

    @ Kate #20,

    You make some salient point.    If one is the woman of a man’s dreams, then he is going to want to have sex with HER.   He’s going to want the connection, the intimacy, etc.   That man is going to be so happy to have the arm candy that he’s going to accept just paying the bills and providing the security, and just being able to look at her with no touching?   I don’t think so.   If a man is in love, he  will be respectful and not push for sex, but eventually he will want to have sex before or after marriage.  

  2. 22

    I wonder if couples who have been together a long time and are in the “he wants more/she wants less” dynamic are there in part because the relationship has other problems.   A woman will be much less turned on by someone she does not have a strong connection with than a man will be.   I also wonder if the man starts to take sex availability for granted and then gets into a pattern of not “winning” his partner.   Maybe for many the hunter/receptive dynamic still needs attention.  

    @sharon   Why does “lack of attraction only increase” over time? Once the initial chemistry fades, what is the reason for a continued decrease in attraction?

  3. 23

    There is this 20/80 rule. Which says that when you are in need, that thing has 80% importance, but when you have satisfied that need, that thing has max 20% of your attention.
    Or it is a man vs woman thing.
    I never ever have had a relationship that has strong sexual attraction and good sex, therefore I want it.

    21# sharon said it :”I know if I’m attract to someone in less than 30 seconds. It’s either yes or no”

    That is my point. If I want to have a relationship, the sexual attraction is there and I see it within 30 seconds, or it is NOT there…. and when the attraction is NOT there “advice try to make a relationship work by talking about sexual issues” is useless.

    So in that, the advice that is here often.. “try to give 6,5 a chance” is just something I consider settling, since it means I just see his physical and mental attributes and they are ok, but I don’t feel drawn to him. I know that if I have sex with a 6,5 man, the novelty wears off within a week, and then I am bored as passion has died .. when I get annoyed as sex becomes a chore, and I feel suffocated and things slide south from there.
    I have tried several times to make that kind of thing work, but if there is nothing more than novelty of new body with new tricks, I just lose interest totally and all attraction dies.

    I am a male in that way, sex just is one thing that has to work. Sex is a priority, and I think that all that talk of “different sexual drives” is just based on fact that woman have chosen initially a wrong man (barely there “6,5”), learned to care for him and attraction feels more for a while – but since the initial attraction has been that “barely there 6,5″…. it returns to back to 6,5 and sex is then also “barely there”.. and what is there to look for sexually?
    Which means then that woman’s interest to sex life just dies off, and then you hear woman say “sex is not important in a relationship, friendship is the important fact”, and the husband settles for having a “barely there” sex life.

    How fair is that?

  4. 24

    I’m sorry if I’ve made you defensive.   What I’ve written has to do with my issues and my struggles to make sense of what I should do in my life.   The truth is that for whatever reason I have a very hard time dealing with sex and attraction like a normal person.   As a result of that I’ve had to ask myself whether I should settle simply because I’ve concluded from my experience that I’ll never have anything better than “settling.”
    You are absolutely right that we shouldn’t be blinded by lust that is solely lust.   I’ve been there and lived to regret it more than anything else I’ve ever done.   But unfortunately for me the only alternatives I’ve had have been guys who weren’t attractive to me.   And I would rather be with them than either nobody or blinding-chemistry bad guys.   I would love to find something in between — a good guy with some amount of attraction.   So far, no luck.

  5. 25

    Selena 18,

    That is the question I struggle with. I go over it in my mind every day. Does he deserve someone who loves him more than I do? Probably yes. However:

    1.) I haven’t completely given up on the possibility that love will grow (on my part, too). That’s what dating is about, right? I’m giving him a chance to win me over and earn my love. The more time we spend together the more comfortable we become together and the more we bond. With a previous boyfriend it took me two years, but I did eventually get to the point where I loved him. Earlier on it was much like with my current guy: no attraction and a feeling of settling. But over time it became genuine love.

    2.) Even if I don’t ever grow to love him, is it selfish to give him the choice of being with me, knowing full well where I stand? He seems to be very much in love with me, is himself shy and bad at forming relationships, and might rather be with me even if I’m not crazy about him than try to find someone who is (which he might not find anyway). As I said before, he’d get to be with the woman of his dreams. If he chooses that, and I am honest about where I stand, how is that selfish of me?

  6. 26


    What happens to him if at some point you find someone you are  attracted to?

    Sure he may have made a choice to be with a woman who he knew ‘settled’ for him, but what kind of salve do you think that would be when you dumped him? And depending how long it took you to do so…lot’s of wasted time he could have been spending with someone who really loved him.   You aren’t responsible for his choices, but why would you want to risk hurting someone that way? For what? Because you don’t like being single?

    Also, what about Starthrower’s comment #23? Men  want their “dreamgirl” to have sex with them, not get their sexual needs met elsewhere because dreamgirl finds him sexually  repugnant. What makes you think your friend would choose a marriage like this? Or stick to it?   What if while “getting his needs met” elsewhere, he falls in love with someone else? Where does that leave you and your ….marriage of convenience? I don’t even know what to call it.

  7. 28

    She didn’t say she wouldn’t have sex with him. Just not often. Hugh Hefner is a great example. Always has a few young beautiful girls so the burden of sex is spread out amongst them. If we look at men with money and power the trend seems to be to choose beautiful women that most likely won’t find them attractive but are willing to settle for them for a life of luxury. Do you pity the Donalds of the world?

  8. 29

    Well, my last relationship was with a man that was 52 to my 43. He had ED and didn’t reveal that to me unti we were in the midst of a sexual encounter and he lost his erection-Yeah, true scumbag, lol. Anyway, I’m  SURE that fact was part of what made him so mean and nasty. He kept his true nature hidden for awhile, but when it came out I left. I believe I would have left anyway  because of the ED. He couldn’t sustain an erection at certain times of the day, like in the afternoon. The reality is that eventually I would have gotten tired of it as I was already very close to that point already.

    Never again will I become involved with a man who has ED. This is one reason I’m leary of older men. However, if a man has no sexual problems to begin with, I would consider a man 10 to 12 years older if he met my other criteria.  

  9. 30
    Karl R

    Margo said: (#31)
    “Never again will I become involved with a man who has ED.”

    Are you aware that a man who doesn’t have erectile dysfunction could develop it (for example, after you’re married)? The possible causes include certain  medications, certain surgeries, some injuries, diabetes,  hardening of the arteries and  depression.

    Goldie said: (#33)
    “From what I hear, with this rule, you will eliminate pretty much anyone over 45, maybe 40, even.”

    That’s incorrect.

    According to this source: at age 40, about 20% of men have ED. That increases by about 1% per year. 25% of men never have ED.

    But I agree that  ED is  a treatable condition, and therefore no big deal. Similarly, post-menopausal women suffer from vaginal dryness. There’s a cream for that, so it’s not an issue.

  10. 31

    @Sharon #30,

    Well if your analogy is correct, hopefully this sexually repugnant boyfriend has lots of money to make up for his lack of sex appeal.   If that sounds crass, that’s how I read what you are saying.   Evan has said it many times: a man wants a woman who wants HIM.  

  11. 32

    @ Margo #31:
    “Never again will I become involved with a man who has ED.”
    I have a few comments on this one…
    1) From what I hear, with this rule, you will eliminate pretty much anyone over 45, maybe 40, even. (I’m 43 as well, and prefer to date within my age group.)
    2) There are pills for that! Work like a charm.
    3) Realistically, how will you find out if a guy does or does not have ED? Cannot very well ask him about it on your first date, can you? You won’t know until the two of you are pretty heavily involved.

  12. 33

    I would not choose to be with someone for the sake of being with someone. However, I don’t feel bad for men that choose women that aren’t attracted to them. If a man wants a trophy and a lady is jaded enough to choose comfort over love instead of the single life, I’m not judging.

  13. 34

    @ Karl #34:
    25% of men never have ED.”
    Wow. Visions of my future life in a nursing home just got a lot more exciting, thank you! 😀

  14. 35

    If I make a commitment to someone, I am not going to run off with someone else.   I tend to bond with an individual over time.   If you think I would throw away my family because I find someone else good looking, you don’t know me.   Oh, wait; that’s right, you DON’T know me!   So you can stop with the judging, hmm?
    Starthrower can’t speak for all men, including my guy.   If my bf is willing to be with me under the circumstances, that’s his choice, whether Starthrower would make the same choice or not.
    Starthrower, it looks to me like you’re just trying to pick apart my words.   Anyone, male or female, who is trying to make a good impression when on a date is trying to earn the other’s favor.   If you don’t like my choice of words then feel free to substitute your own reasonable words to the same effect.   Dating is a process of getting to know someone and deciding whether or not s/he is right for you.   The person makes a good impression, or not.   He or she wins you over, or not.   You don’t start out giving love freely to the other person.   That takes time.
    Of course love has to be earned; you’re not going to freely give love to a hateful lunatic.   (Are you?!)

  15. 36
    Karl R

    Sarah said: (#37)
    “Starthrower, it looks to me like you’re just trying to pick apart my words.”

    That’s not the kind of person starthrower68 is.

    As a man, I don’t enter a relationship seeing if I can “win over” and “earn” the love of the woman I’m dating. I enter it to see if we are a good match for each other.

    Your words are the vehicle by which you express your thoughts. If you chose your words poorly, feel free to rephrase in a more accurate manner. But I have to concur with starthrower68, if you tell a man that you expect him to earn your love, I think most self-respecting men won’t bother to call you again.

  16. 37

    Sarah, you may mean things one way.   But the man you’re dating may perceive it as another.

  17. 38

    Oh, and btw Sarah, God loves the hateful lunatic.   And we’re called to love one another the way God loves us.   You don’t have to stay with the hateful lunatic, but hate the sin not the sinner.   Evan has told us more than once how the love Mrs. Katz loves him unconditionally and that’s one of the reasons he married her.   Sorry for the double post, EMK….

  18. 39

    @Goldie #23, Karl is right, you are incorrect on point 1, in fact, you are incorrect on all your points.

    1) There are men well into their sixties who don’t have ED.

    2) Medications don’t work on all men. They didn’t work for the guy I was dating.  According to him, his doctors  told him  there was nothing they could do for him surgically either.

    3) “How do I expect to find out if a guy does or does not have ED? An honest conversation, that’s how. No, I don’t expect this conversation to take place on the first date-unless we plan to have sex, then I do. I do, however, expect this conversation to occur when we our having the “exclusive” conversation and before we have sex.

    @Karl #34, Yes, I’m aware that a man can develop ED after we are involved. Anybody can develop almost any disease or disorder. Still, I would rather know if the man has that condition before I become involved, not after. In short, I don’t want to  be decieved.

    @ Sarah #2, I know I made a point to you about your situation with this guy on another thread, but after reading your post here, my conclusion is you’re not being fair to him. You are USING him.  You don’t really want hm for him; you want him for what he can do for you. Have some integrity and let him go to find the woman that will really love him, and not just settle for him. Don’t do this to him, or yourself.

  19. 40

    doesn’t the golden rule apply here, “once the money diminishes in a relationship so does the sex”?

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