Dry spells among couples in long-term relationships are extremely common.
A lot of things can get in the way of having sex regularly – jobs, commutes, kids and chores. There is no one right answer to the question – how often do happy couples have sex because the number varies for each couple. Some couples have sex multiple times a week and some once a month, and both might report the same level of satisfaction from their relationship.
However, a 40-year study that surveyed more than 30,000 Americans is the first one to conclude that more sex does not equate to more happiness (Muise, 2015).
According to this study, couples who had sex once a week reported being the happiest. Couples that had sex multiple times a week, or less than once a week, did not report the same level of happiness. This study also highlights the fact that the intimate connection is way more important than sex itself. You don’t have to have sex every day with your partner to be happy – as long as you both maintain the intimate connection through verbal and physical affection.
Sexual connection is like a muscle – if you don’t use it, you lose it.
This is why couples who are stuck in a rut and can’t seem to shake the dry spell that they are caught in, find that getting back into the groove seems like too big of an ordeal. For many, it’s the idea of initiating and getting things started that seems way more daunting than the sex itself. However, it’s highly likely that even if it has been a while, once you get going you are going to end up enjoying it!
Here are some ways to break through the dry spell:
1. Non-sexual intimacy
In the midst of a sexual drought, what keeps couples connected is strong emotional intimacy. Non-sexual intimacy is a key ingredient for a satisfying, long-term relationship. Making your partner feel sexy, wanted, beautiful, appreciated, admired, and cherished are all ways of boosting non-sexual intimacy. Use touch, eye contact, snuggling, holding hands, compliments, and words of endearment to let each other know that your love extends above and beyond giving and receiving sexual pleasure.
2. Foreplay without an agenda
One way of taking the awkwardness out of reconnecting after a long dry spell is to make-out without any agenda. Foreplay becomes boring when it turns into a goal-oriented activity leading to sex. Remember how making out was so hot and passionate in high school? It’s because the opportunity to engage in sex was limited. There is no rulebook that says that you cannot act like teenagers in your adulthood because when it comes to foreplay; you definitely should. Try different places and situations to engage in foreplay. Maybe you start making out in the parking lot of a restaurant after your weekly dinner date or engage in PDA while out running errands.
3. Sensual Massages
One of the most sensual ways of connecting with your partner is through touch. Sensual touching is also foreplay. Instead of always approaching your partner with a make-out session, perhaps try a foot rub or a back massage. It’s also fun to experiment with the type of touch that turns on your partner – light, strong, soft, ticklish etc. And don’t forget to use your lips for the massage as well! As I mentioned above about engaging in foreplay without any agenda, the same rule applies here. The purpose of the massage is to be connected with your partner through touch without penetration being a goal.
4. Start with outercourse
Most couples who get stuck in a dry spell is because of the misconception that only intercourse is “real” sex. They are not willing to fuel the fire of sexual intimacy by engaging in outercourse when intercourse is not an option. In many ways, outercourse is more important than intercourse, in maintaining a long-term satisfying sexual connection. Outercourse includes sexual activities that don’t involve penetration – clitoral stimulation, hand jobs, oral sex, naked massages, mutual masturbation, showering together. You get the idea!
5. Stay in touch when apart
Since most of us are glued to our phones anyway, why not use technology to get things started before you and your partner even get to put your hands on each other. I encourage the couples who I work with to stay connected with each other throughout the day via text, calls or emails. Staying connected when apart enhances the emotional connection and partners feel less stressed when they reunite. Talking dirty to each other does not have to be reserved for the bedroom. Texting dirty can be equally erotic and can set the mood for what is in store when you both reconnect, increasing anticipatory arousal.
Muise, A. (2015). Couples who have sex weekly are happiest. Social Psychological & Personality Science.