I’ve always wanted to be the friend people can go to to talk about sex. Even before I started writing about it, I’ve enjoyed discussing the details, from what’s going right to what’s going wrong. People’s sex lives are quite compelling to me, especially because everyone’s is usually so different. But as a sex writer, I’ve gotten even more of an inside scoop into what people like and what they don’t, particularly from what they request we write about. There are a few common themes, like how to have virtual sex—because duh, pandemic—how to seamlessly walk into the room wearing lingerie without looking like Bella from Breaking Dawn awkwardly waltzing in the room to Edward’s laughter, where to buy sex toys, how to encourage your partner to give you oral sex, just to name a few. But for the most part, there’s one thing every single person wants to know.
“Is my sex life normal?”
It’s always accompanied by a part of their sex life they deem “unfit” in some way: how much they’re having it, where they’re having it, when they’re having it, how they’re having it—the list goes on, and every single time, I give pretty much the same answer.
Yep, it’s normal!
I know you’re wondering, “OK, well, everything can’t just be ‘normal,’” to which I respond you’re absolutely right. There are certainly situations that aren’t typical. Feeling pain during sex? Not normal, talk to your doctor. Your partner pressuring you into having more sex than you want? Not normal, dump them. If you’re feeling uncomfortable about anything in your sex life, then that isn’t normal. We all deserve good sex. But if you’re self-conscious that you’re not having enough, having too much, not getting frisky enough, getting too frisky, not trying enough new positions, only having sex at night, only having sex in the morning, only having oral sex, not having oral sex, then it’s not that your sex life isn’t normal; it’s that for some reason you’re self-conscious about it. Here’s why these are all completely normal, and what I tell people to focus on instead.
Having sex “too little” or “too much”
It’s a misconception that couples should be having sex the “perfect” amount. I’ve stressed over and over with friends, colleagues, and strangers that while there is no “normal” amount, most couples say they have sex once a week. Does this stop people from being stressed about it? Not in any way. Whether you or your partner has a low sex drive, you don’t live with each other, or you just don’t get around to it all the time, there’s nothing wrong with how much sex you’re having—unless you want to change it.
Only having a certain type of sex
Many people are stressed that their sex lives are weird because their sex is atypical. To this, I pretty much always say: different strokes for different folks! While someone may exclusively prefer penetrative sex but someone else likes oral, or some people like to practice BDSM and others enjoy what some deem “vanilla” sex, there’s nothing wrong with doing what you like. To be quite honest, it actually is pretty admirable that you and your partner are able to have sex that is enjoyable for the two of you, even if it seems “weird” to you.
Not trying “new things” enough
It’s really common to fear that your sex lives aren’t normal when you’re reading about role-playing, anal sex, sending nudes, and more if you haven’t ventured into those parts of sex yet. But there’s no rush, and no requirement, to try things that don’t excite you. Want to try something new? Yay! But don’t force yourself, or your partner, if one of you isn’t interested.
Here’s what I recommend
When someone asks me if their sex life is normal, I immediately get into advice mode, but not in the way you’d expect. Instead of telling them to have more sex or try something new, I tell them how they can increase their sexual confidence and inspire them to feel more comfortable with their libido and their sex life.
Talk about sex
Knowing about the sex lives of the other people around you is a powerful tool in understanding that every sex life is valuable. Say you’re worried that you have too much sex and your sex drive is too high, but then you talk to someone else and realize their worry is that they don’t have enough. Likely, you’ll experience a little jealousy for one another! Then, you and your friend are able to have a candid conversation about why you feel that way. Maybe you feel insecure that you and your partner participate in a certain kink, and talking about how that kink has impacted your sex life positively inspires a friend to open up about a kink they’re involved in. It doesn’t have to get extra personal if you’re a more private person, but the simple act of talking about your sex life with people other than your partner might encourage you to look at it differently.
Address any changes
Have you or your partner experienced a big life change recently? (Perhaps a global pandemic!) Maybe you just moved or got a new job, and this has impacted your sex life. Sex is, of course, fun, but it’s also about promoting intimacy and bonding with one another. Dealing with a significant life change is another way you and your partner might be bonding, so you may be having less sex because you’re already getting in communication that other way.
I will recommend masturbating for just about any life issue. Stressed? Upset? Excited? Just masturbate it away! But I’d be remiss if I didn’t describe the connection between masturbating and sexual confidence. Knowing that you can make yourself orgasm is pretty powerful, and it’s a great way to get to know your body, both physically and mentally. You can see what you like and tell your partner afterward. If you have a low sex drive, masturbating can get you more excited to have sex the next time. There are endless benefits of masturbating, and I’ll say it’s nearly essential to achieving the sex life of your dreams.
Focus on your sexual compatibility
A lot of the time people tell me they’re worried their sex life is abnormal in some way, I ask if their partner ever says anything about wishing their sex life was different. Almost always, they say no. To me, this often means that you are sexually compatible with each other. It’s an unexpected pleasure to meet someone who has a similar sex drive, likes the same sexual acts, has a similar kink or fetish as you, enjoys having sex at the same time, etc. If you’re feeling self-conscious about your sex life, wondering how it compares to others, keep this in mind. You and your partner are on the same page, and that’s worth being excited about.