Sex and Intimacy

How Often Do Men Need to Have Sex?

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Dear Shaunti, You’re the researcher, so please tell me the real answer: How often do men need to have sex?  I just don’t think about sex much; I guess it isn’t a need for me.  But my husband says he thinks about it all the time, and he gets crabby that I’m often too tired.  Even though I can go weeks or months and not miss it, since he can’t, I try to do the right thing.  But oddly, even though he says he’s “deprived”, when I tell him “okay” that just makes him mad.  He says he wants me to want it like he does.  I feel like I can’t win. But if I knew how often a man needs sex I could plan on that, and hopefully that would help.

– Not Feeling Frisky

Dear Not Feeling Frisky,

How would you feel if you told your husband, “I need to hear you say ‘I love you’,” and he heaved a big sigh and said, “Okay, I’ll try to say it.  But how often do you need to hear it?  Is once a week okay?  Whatever it is, tell me, and I’ll plan on that.

My guess is, you’d be really hurt. You’d be thinking, He supposedly loves me, but he has to force himself to dredge up the willpower to show me love?  Maybe he doesn’t really love me like he says he does.

You wouldn’t be hurt because he didn’t say “I love you” enough times.
You’d be hurt because of what it implied.

Maybe it means he doesn’t care about you.
Maybe, you might think, it means you really aren’t even all that lovable.

Sex works the exact same way for most men.  In the research, there seems to be no one standard amount of sex that men “need” to have; it is what sex signals to them that is important.  Your sexual actions signal: I desire you; You are desirable; I want to be with you in that way; You make me feel amazing; I want to show you how much I care about you; and on and on.

PrintWe women think of sex as being primarily a physical need for a man: but it isn’t.  One of a man’s deepest emotional needs is to feel that his wife desires him.  And if he sees that his wife desires him, it gives him a sense of well-being in all the other areas of his life.  But if she shows <big sigh> “Okay, fine, let’s get this over with,” then it is clear to him that she doesn’t desire him, he’s no good at trying to make her feel amazing, he must be completely undesirable… and that she doesn’t really care about him the way she says she does.

In the research with men and women, it was very clear that most women (although certainly not all) simply have a different type of desire than men. We need to be approached differently. Most women simply don’t think about sex as often as men do.

But let’s look at that “I love you” parallel for a moment.  The research was just as clear that men love their wives but simply don’t think about saying words of love as often as a woman might want, either.  Yet we rightly expect that men be purposeful about developing new habits of showing love.  We rightly expect them to learn how to do that, and do it enthusiastically (rather than under compulsion), because it is so emotionally important to us as women.

The same thing can be said of sex.  Now, yes, there are sometimes physical or emotional things that get in the way, and if that is true of you, please seek out professional help to address those issues.  But for many women, we just don’t realize how important it is to be purposeful about developing new habits of showing our husbands love in this way; of learning how to do it, and doing it enthusiastically because it is so emotionally important to our men.

Some women who just don’t think about sex and risk being too tired for it, have learned that one great solution is to schedule sex dates.  One woman I interviewed said that no matter what else was going on in their lives, and no matter what other times they might have sex, she and her husband always made time for intimacy on Sunday nights.  Although it didn’t fit the Hollywood ideal of tumbling into bed spontaneously, she discovered that in the real world, this was something that “got her thinking about it,” and she came to truly love that time together.  And so did her husband!

Although the average appears to be a few times a week, there is no one “right amount” of sex that men need. Instead, the one constant is his emotional need to feel that you desire him.  Find ways to show that, and you’ll probably see more love coming from him to you, too!

through-mans-eyes-logoWant to learn more about how men think, feel, and process the world around them? Check out the Through A Man's Eyes video series and workshop for expert advice and insight on how to understand and communicate with the men in your life.




This article was originally published here and is used with permission.

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  • Kate Logan

    I am really disappointed that a woman would write an article like this, glibly comparing saying I love you with having sex when you wouldn’t actually choose to – It makes a woman very vulnerable to do that. It is not the job of the woman to make a man feel amazing. A loving husband needs to understand that his wife may not always want to have sex and be tender and help her to feel safe enough to be intimate, not spit his dummy out that his wife isn’t making him feel loved.

    • Sam

      I think this article has some very valid points. It’s important that both husband and wife make the other feel desired and wanted. There are many ways to accomplish this and it may not be the same for everyone. For men, it is instinctual to associate being desired with wanting to have sex. For some men, being desired and wanting sex is the “I love you” that THEY need. But it’s not just about the act of having sex. It’s the desire itself. And communication is so important. Having to hear “I’m tired” over and over again isn’t constructive in a relationship. More often than not it’s not about being tired. It’s important to have an open dialogue about sex.

      • Kate Logan

        I completely agree communication is the key. Sorry for my harsh words before, I get so disappointed when Christian advice about sex seems to be about flattering the man’s ego not encouraging wives to talk to and most importantly pray with their husbands about sex. The advice seems to be sacrifice yourself, pretend you want to, you’ll enjoy it if you try it, which might be valid advice if the wife is just thinking I can’t be bothered, I’d rather watch tv. But where a relationship is struggling such advice can be quite damaging and cause even more hurts. My advice to the writer of this letter would be talk to your husband, be honest about your feelings and fears, pray with him, that is the way towards building intimacy, not pretending you want to when you don’t.

        • Phillip Derrick Gray

          Why would you have to pretend, at all? Presumably, you married your husband, not just because you love him, but also because you’re attracted to him. And if you’ve stayed married to him, and you enjoyed the sex, then why would you have to fake it? We’re not talking about a spouse’s cooking, here, or that awful shirt he wears or his ugly chair he loves, but you hate. Many people, especially those in a Christian relationship, don’t always like to admit that good, loving sex is as important to a lasting relationship as trust and understanding, but it is. If the “Song of Solomon” teaches Christians anything, it’s that sex is not a bad thing, it just requires responsibility. There’s no such thing as too much sex in a marriage, provided it’s just with each other and you’re both getting enough rest lol. But there is such a thing as too little sex in a marriage. I can understand being busy, tired, not feeling well and occasionally not being in the mood, but I don’t want my wife to fake it just to make me happy, that’s as bad as not doing it at all. If she has to force it, it tells me that I’m doing something wrong, or she’s not attracted to me, anymore. It can also make a person think, that they’re being cheated on. Maybe it’s a cliche, but it’s an old question, “if she’s/he’s not getting it from me, is she/he getting it from someone else?” Personally, I could have sex everyday, but I also have what’s referred to, as sexsomnia. It’s happened several times before, where if I wasn’t having enough, I would have sex in my sleep… and other stuff too, that I won’t discuss here. But, sometimes I’d wake up during, right after, or maybe not until the next day and then I wouldn’t remember a thing about it. So for me, it goes a little beyond just, simply wanting sex, because I can’t control what I do in my sleep.

    • Phillip Derrick Gray

      Um, I totally agree with it, she’s right on point. I’m dealing with this same issue, myself. But, why do you think of sex, as just sex? Why not call it, making love? Men and women aren’t a lot different, we all want to be desired by our partners, but sometimes it’s the method of desire, how we like to be desired, that’s different. Sex is important in any marriage and certainly so is love, but sometimes those two are one in the same. Man or woman, if sex is important to you, you may feel neglected, unwanted, undesired and unloved when you’re not getting any.

      • Drew Adkins

        Very well put. A loving husband will know when his wife cannot make love at the time for whatever reason. A loving wife will know when her husband needs sex, maybe not just wants it. We want to be needed. We have a need to be desired. But don’t ever withhold it for whatever whim, or make it a reward or bargaining chip. That is putting a price on love.

        • Shel

          You guys are unbelievable . What is wrong with you . Women have a choice to say yes or no . Get over yourselves . Learn to respect your wives for other things such as intelligence , perhaps ? Grow up .

          • Spillman

            If women, engaged to be married, are not willing to have sex with their husbands, and frequent sex, they should not marry them, thus sparing both of them agony.

          • Jerry

            This article is not about the woman’s needs. It’s about a man’s need for affection and desireabilty in the marriage. Are his needs not important? Assume he addresses all of her needs and respects her intelligence, etc. Doesn’t she want to take care of his needs also. The “get over yourselves” comment makes me believe you struggle in this area and probably have no understanding of men, or the dual effort it takes for a healthy relationship. Good luck to you.

          • yod1948

            What is wrong with “us”? We get married and think that we’d have the benefits of marriage. Is that so wrong?

          • Old Alaskan

            I certainly agree that in today’s culture, a woman needs to be supported in their right to make choices that are rightfully their’s to make. I certainly hope you support a man’s rightful choice then, to find an alternative way to get his sexual needs met if he has a partner who is no longer willing to participate regularly in that aspect of an intimate relationship.

    • Jc

      I feel like you must not understand men and that you are selfish. This women is intelligent and not everything has to be about the women and what she wants. Men should always try to make their wives happy as should women to their husband. Compromise is needed in a relationship. Everything this women wrote is very true.

  • Fustrated

    I want to know if it is possible for a woman and a man to love each other and the woman just is not into sex very much for the couple to be able to function as normal couples should. I have what I think is a normal sex drive, but my wife thinks it is “Over sex” thinking from me. We are in our early fifties and I think she is going thru that phase of life which is difficult for both men and women. I try to be understanding but my words are not as eloquent as I would like. I love and desire my wife very much and my wife LOVES me , but the desire doesn’t seem to be there. It has been a source of resentment when the subject comes up.

  • Kyriel Skillings

    Ladies, understand your husband needs sex, men, make sure you are not treating your wife like your personal sex slave.

  • yod1948

    Ladies, it isn’t about sex so much (though that is important) as it is about affection. My local Pastor confided that almost all marriage counseling he does these days are because the husband feels undesired by his wife, which manifests in her being hurt by his response to that.
    Regularly give him a passionate kiss just because you want to. He may interpret that as a sexual advance the first few times but after a while you’ll find that he just really wants a hug.

  • Old Alaskan

    I’m now 67 and my blood tests for the last 6 years have been showing
    that my testosterone levels are below normal for my age, so my case may
    not be typical. As such, for me now, sexual intimacy twice a week seems
    to be adequate to keep me from biologically feeling sex starved. Now
    for a little elaboration. Obviously regular sex is not necessary to
    sustain life, but, generally, it is absolutely necessary for a man to
    have in order to perceive himself as having ANY sense of acceptable
    “quality of life” and good mental health. And, it’s oversimplification
    to talk about this as simply biological hunger/cravings (although this
    is certainly a reality), but better looked at from a perspective of what
    the predictible, if not inevitable realities for a man’s functioning
    and his relationships. If the “need” was simply for biological release,
    stimulation from porn and masturbation could be an acceptable
    alternative for sexless marriages or men without partners. Any man who
    is being honest will tell you that is no real alternative to an
    affectionate lover. I am grateful for a reduction in testosterone
    because I can now talk to a beautiful woman without my tongue (and
    frontal lobe functioning) getting all tied up due to overwhelming sexual
    thoughts and feelings. If a 60 year old man needs regular sexual
    intimacy to not have his thoughts taken captive by sexual desire, think
    of the realities for younger men. If a man is not getting regular
    affectionate intimacy, he is going to have a serious, difficult, focus
    destracting, and sometimes quite intense internal struggle to adequately
    and appropriately manage his psychological and biological feelings of
    being sexually starved. Like any similar internal battle, it is going to
    take a skilled and determined man to be able to identify and manage
    this internal struggle in order to not let the irritability, feelings of
    bitterness, resentment, feelings of marital abandonment, and possibly a
    variety of cognitive errors. I don’t believe it is a woman’s
    “responsibility” to “make it all better” nor be responsible to meet all a
    man’s needs, any more than it is a man’s responsibility to do the same
    for his female partner. But I do see it that, by definition, a marital
    partnership (with or without the legal paper) calls for both partners to
    be willing to try to mutually understand the struggles, cravings,
    physical and psychological needs, and be willing to collaborate or at
    least support each partner’s rightful independent decisions to be happy
    and have as healthy a physical, mental and social life as possible. As
    such, it seems a reality that when a woman is no longer willing or able
    to give her partner the affectionate sexual intimacy he craves, it is
    equally inappropriate for the man to pressure or expect the woman to
    ignore her changing priorities to want to be free from that, as it is
    inappropriate for the woman to expect the man to deny, ignore or try to
    pretend that he no longer needs that regular sexual intimacy. Maybe
    that is why even the early Jewish community which was clearly directly
    instructed by God, not only condoned, but apparently supported polygamy
    and concubines 🙂 Actually, I see no SIMPLE, mutually workable solution
    to this dilemna. I do know that I have spent a lifetime observing both
    men and women being absolutely cruel to their partners by being
    unwilling or unable to try to find a mutually considerate, mutually
    reasonable, mutually workable solution to this dilemna.