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How Often Do Happy Couples Have Sex?

Sex is an integral part of most relationships, but how much is enough?

Key points

  • It's normal for couples to wonder about whether they are having enough sex.
  • Couples who have sex once a week or more report the most relationship satisfaction.
  • Planning sex and making it more pleasurable are helpful ways to maintain an active sex life.

When it comes to sex in long-term relationships, couples often wonder, “Are we having enough? Would more often be better?”

Research consistently demonstrates that sexual intimacy plays a vital role in maintaining connectedness in relationships. While it cannot fix a broken relationship, the correlation between sexual satisfaction and relationship satisfaction is strong, and this has been consistently demonstrated in many large-scale surveys.

However, the question remains: is there a specific frequency that predicts optimal relationship resilience and satisfaction? Is more always better? And should you be worried if your sexual frequency falls short? Studies that have looked at the connection between sexual frequency, sexual satisfaction, and relationship satisfaction offer some compelling answers to these questions.

On the one hand, research has shown that couples who have sex once a week or more report higher levels of sexual satisfaction, relationship satisfaction, and greater overall well-being compared to couples who have sex less frequently. The benefit to well-being that comes from having sex once a week (or more) is primarily explained by the improvement that is coming to your relationship.

However, this does not mean that all couples should be having sex as much as possible every week. The same study found that couples who have sex more than once a week enjoy no additional benefit compared to couples who have it just once.

So, what are the key takeaways from these findings? First, regular sex does seem to play a role in maintaining relationship satisfaction. However, forcing yourself to have sex multiple times a week will not make you any better off than a couple who enjoys sex just once a week. There's a risk you could fare worse.

It's important to remember that, like all research studies, these numbers reflect averages. There is tremendous diversity in people's levels of sexual desire, and that is part of what makes it such a beautifully unique experience. Some couples might have sex only once a month and feel completely satisfied and happy. Others may want sex multiple times a week to feel like their sexual needs are being met. These variations are natural and should be acknowledged and enjoyed.

For a couple who aims to have sex once a week, it’s also helpful to know if there are proven ways to help you achieve your "target" number. One strategy many couples benefit from is planning sex. Although this strategy often receives eye rolls from my students and Instagram followers, its issue is simply a matter of bad PR. Think about it. We plan many other pleasurable activities, from booking a vacation, a reservation at our favorite restaurant, or a massage. Anticipation is part of the fun. Why should anticipation of sexual pleasure be any different?

Finally, couples need to focus not just on the quantity of sex they are having but its quality as well. The study above found that when couples reported high levels of sexual satisfaction, they were more likely to report higher sexual frequency when researchers checked in with them again a few months later.

This makes perfect sense—when you enjoy an activity and find it highly satisfying, you are likely to crave more of it—a tenet of human behavior that carries over into our sexual lives.

The final message? Prioritize sexual intimacy, but don't make it a pressure-filled experience.

Furthermore, realize that there is no "winning" when it comes to sex, nor is there an awards ceremony at the end, unless you count the high-fives you and your partner may occasionally exchange after an incredibly passionate evening. Ultimately, the magic number is what feels right for you and your partner, and so long as you both feel you're getting your sexual needs met, then the prize has already been won.

Facebook image: NDAB Creativity/Shutterstock


Muise, A., Schimmack, U., & Impett, E. A. (2016). Sexual Frequency Predicts Greater Well-
Being, But More is Not Always Better. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 7(4), 295-

Park, H. G.*, Leonhardt, N.*, Johnson, M., Muise, A., Busby, D., Hanna-Walker, V., Yorgason, J., Holmes, E., Impett, E. A. (2023). Sexual satisfaction predicts future changes in relationship satisfaction and sexual frequency: New insights from within-person associations over time. Personality Science.

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