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.

          • Josiah Gaxx Isaboke

            …And this is exactly why this article was written. For women like you who think a man is programmed to do what you please or else…Relationships are about compromise and understanding. A man has his need just as a woman does.

    • 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.

    • Houston

      Well, she is quoting the Bible and quoting it in context. If you want a man to be tender…follow the instructions written in the book and see if your behavior doesn’t bring out the best in your man… if you want your husband’s love…be brave enough and strong enough to allow him to see your vulnerability …it says I trust you. And you may find him transforming before your eyes…it’s scarey but if he’s not a narcissist or a bully…it will work. Nothing melts a man’s heart like a woman’s vulnerability toward him.

  • 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.

    • MariR

      Kyriel, there is a marvelous fix for this common dilemma: the guy needs to satisfy his own sexual needs by himself most of the time. Save the sexual intercourse with foreplay for the rare occasions when everything is right for it, as far as the woman goes.
      THIS is what nature intended.
      If masturbation were somehow improper, a guy wouldn’t be able to “make the grade” by himself, with his own hand. Just think about trying to tickle yourself; you can’t do it!
      Nature made it impossible.
      But not true with satisfying oneself sexually.
      ** Note: The above advice can keep many marriages together while preserving the man’s sanity.
      If the morality of PORN is of concern to you or your hubs, he CAN do the manly deed without viewing porn. It is possible.

      • Kyle

        If masturbation were sufficient, men would have no need to seek out women. Nature gave men strong sex drives so they can propagate the human race even in times of scarcity of mates. Monogamy, for men, is unnatural. So it’s a big deal when a man commits to limiting his sexual experiences to one woman for a lifetime. If a woman expects her man to be faithful, she should make herself available to him sexually. If not… nature is telling him, “there’s no sex to be had here… seek it elsewhere.” so he’ll either cheat or just be frustrated which can eventually lead to anxiety and depression. Masturbation may help with the urges in the short term, but it will still leave him emotionally depleted in the long run.

      • StanUlam

        No, better is a hot mistress who doesn’t complain all the time between spending money and eating like the wife does. Everyone wins!

  • 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.

  • Amy Camille Denton

    Perfect, after I work a 12 hour shift, make dinner and straighten up I’m really going to feel frisky. Guys, make sure you’re in shape, clean and nice to your spouse. Make sure you talk to your spouse. It sure is hard to warm up to someone who doesn’t speak to you all day until he wants sex. It sure is hard to warm up to someone who doesn’t participate in caring for the home, sits while you clean after being at work all day, watches you wash the dishes. Sure is hard to warm up to a selfish person. And, by golly, I would say no just out of self preservation.

    • MariR

      Perfect answer. Couldn’t have said it better!

      • Hollo Stripez

        I disagree, sounds like to perfect woman to a complete piece of shit husband