How Often Do You Have Sex and Who Initiates It?

When it comes to sex, do you wait for him to put the moves on? Do you keep track?

How Often Do You Have Sex and Who Initiates It?

Do you wait for him to put the moves on? Do you keep track?

-Emily Southwood,

couples sex

“Well sometimes you just want to get it over with already, and the longer you hold out, the shorter it lasts!” is the line that flew out of a girlfriend’s mouth the other day.

Was I watching the first SATC movie, yet again, you ask? No, but close. I was drinking martinis with old friends at a reunion and we were all gobsmacked by this declaration. Not least of all because this friend was, shall we say, pretty wild back in the day. She’s now married with children and lives in the suburbs. She was responding to another friend’s admission that it had been some time (a month) since she and her guy had done the deed. We’d all been offering up our sex status quo and I’d be lying if I said some of the answers weren’t depressing me.

Read Sexpert Julie: How to Ignite Your Sexual Desire

“I have sex whenever he initiates it,” another friend chimed in and I quickly realized that I was going to need several more martinis and possibly a hand gun.

Was I in a time warp? Had we travelled to 1950? Maybe they’d all just been watching too much Mad Men. But who was I kidding? They were probably watching Dora the Explorer not Betty Draper. Still “doing it whenever he wants to” seems awfully archaic. I think I read it on an un-funny bachelorette card once.  

But as I headed for the bar, I started to reflect on the state of initiation in my marriage. I used to be hyper aware of who instigated sex and how much sex we were having. For me, this was closely linked to my anxiety about whether passion could survive in the long haul. In my tit-for-tat feminist thinking, I imagined that if the chemistry was going to last, I should be initiating sex half of the time.

Before tying the knot, I’d even kept a sort of “sex tabulation” with a girlfriend at yoga class. We’d been with our respective partners for about the same time then—two years. As we worked on our glutes in downward dog, we noted how often we did it with our boyfriends. We figured any longer than four days of no nookie was a passion death sentence. We made darn sure that didn’t happen. So much for free love and spontaneity, this was a competitive sport.

As some time in the conjugal bed has passed, I’ve eased up on my former apprehensions about whether our chemistry will fade or what it means if we’ve passed the four-day mark without a good romp. More often than not, it just signifies that hubby has a nice overtime check coming in.

And I’ve chilled out about who initiates what. The fact is he does tend to initiate sex more. What can I say, he’s quicker to the punch and sometimes I’m not instantly in the mood (aka too busy thinking about my to-do list and what’s for dinner to have considered dropping my drawers). But when I go with it and surrender the details, it usually leads to a good time. And in that sense, I guess we do, “do it whenever he wants to.”

Maybe, I realized, I wasn’t so different from my old friends after all; they just had a special way with words. I know for sure that how much sex a couple has is highly individual and that the important thing, whether it’s once a month, or twice a day, is that it satisfies them.  And as for whether my old friend who likes to hold out so that it’s over and done with faster is satisfied, who knows? I’ll have to ask her sometime.

Maybe she’s just a really, really big fan of quickies. 

Emily SouthwoodEmily Southwood is working on a memoir called Prude and blogs at She lives in Los Angeles with her husband. Emily is the author of the “I Married a Pornographer” series on BettyConfidential.

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0 thoughts on “How Often Do You Have Sex and Who Initiates It?

  1. Hmmmm… it USED to be that I was always the initiator and honestly, it was exhausting emotionally. Even if I wasn’t in the mood, I knew he was, but it fed his ego when I initiated.
    THEN, he became the initiator and it felt like a vacation for me, except when I wasn’t in the mood.
    NOW, it’s evened out to what I call a relationship. As with everything else in a relationship, there are times when he takes the lead, times when I do. And you’re right; as long as both people are satisfied, it must be working!

  2. When you get to be over 50 and things don’t always work out like you want them to, it makes everything harder. Do you come on to him in the hopes that it will work or leave it up to him thinking that he can feel something in the works? I’d make love with him every night if I could. Unfortunately, that isn’t possible. It’s really tough when the only sure way is with a prescription medication that’s very expensive and makes him sick the next day. :(

  3. Sidneyanne’s comment really interested me. My guy is 69 and I am 66. We are only in our relationship 6 months and are about equal in the initiation of sex realm. We also depend on the prescription med and it is expensive, but have not experienced him being ill the next day. I know how she is feeling about the ‘coming on’ to him and wondering if the med will work as it should. Love helps though. I enjoy sex more now than I did in my 20’s to 40’s !! :)

  4. Oh dear…can’t believe i am admitting this but hey, it’s time i vent..or blow up! This sounds like a Tina Fey movie but it is the truth & unfortunately, it’s not funny. A little over 10 yrs ago, after a neighborhood picnic with a bit too much to drink & a full moon, I went home with my neighbor who I kinda just “barely” knew..& well, let me just say that it had been quite awhile since I had been with a man..& so the third date became a first date if you know what I mean..& then, the bad thing is that as my neighbor, I couldn’t exactly run away. In fact, my Mother was living with me at the time so I hadn’t been doing much of anything since it was difficult for her to get out. Thus, I kept bumping into my good neighbor Sam. He obviously felt as awkward as I did but after awhile, we just gave in & hopped back in bed. Disgusting, I know..especially since we had alsolutely nothing in common..except that my Mother fell completely in love with him & thought I should do the same. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that her 40 yr old daughter was now the neighborhood “hoochie”. Still, for some reason, neighbor Sam kept coming by to see Mom & conveniently stayed least until 5 am before Mom got up, of course. OK, I’ll get to the point..Instead of going to hell which is where I just knew I was headed, I married Sam! OMG!! Yep, I did & let me tell you that the most awful, sick feeling you can ever experience is saying I do to someone when you know that you definitely don’t…& sadly, I knew he felt the same way. Still, we were rabbits when the bedroom door closed..However, it was becoming more & more obvious that we didn’t have much in common in the bedroom, least, after the initial thrill began to dull. This man was definitely a weirdo or in kindness, I will just say that he had some strange ideas (& I have always been a liberal lover). In any case, the marriage license just silently mocked us as it continued to lay on the outgoing “mail” stack daily..we had 30 days to mail it & if we didn’t, legally our marriage would be void!! Of course, I didn’t want to mail the thing & I knew he didn’t either..One of us just needed to have the gumption to speak the truth, admit that we had made a mistake, agree to forget EVERYthing & never talk about this brief period of time to anyone & to just happily return to our nice normal lives that we had before the “experience”..I had made up my mind to tell him after thinking of nothing else for two days straight. Eager to have the conversation, I decided to pour each of us a glass of wine as I waited for Sam to walk in the door..for our liberating conversation…I was feeling relieved already..that is, until I looked at the “mail” table & noticed the marriage license was no longer there. When I called out to my Mom, I knew before she confirmed to me that yes, she had mailed it for us since we were just letting it sit there..I dearly love my Mother but suddenly I was 15 again & she had just read my diary! When Sam got home, I should have told him how I felt regardless even tho’ the silly license was now in the hands of the U.S. Postal Service. We would be much better off to just have the marriage annulled or get a divorce, anyway..Any thing would be better than for us to stay together in what had always been a loveless marriage in the first place. I was going to do it but I was suddenly feeling even more ill..& I mean really much so that I thought I might better call my doctor. Well, within 24 hrs, my bad gall bladder had been removed & I was in the hospital. After the surgery (which is now usually done as a day surgery), something “went wrong” (sounding like Murphy’s Law”?)& I needed IV antibiotics for a couple of days. I also had a very bad bladder infection which must have been a result of all that sex Sam & I had when we were playing bunnies. ALL this happened in less than 40 days!..which brings me to the original question of how often do I have sex? I didn’t do what I should have done..Instead, I went home to recuperate & it was then that Good Neighbor Sam & I became our little sham. He continued to share the bed with me for awhile anyway..until, he discovered he had rather sleep on the patio. Our relationship never again was the least bit intimate..& I mean in any way..not even a kiss. Yes, I am telling you the truth & that was over 10 years ago. Oh, I have tried to ask him why he was no longer interested in me..only to be told that he no longer feels the ‘need’ to have physical touch..he has ascended to a higher plateau..or that all I thought about was sex..(after all I was always bugging him about having sex..lI definitely had an issue! Of course, I was upset when he would say such things but honestly, as I learned more & more about him, including his hygiene habits, I really didn’t want to have sex with him. Also a friend reminded me of a conversation I had had with him. A male neighbor had told me (long before my little tryst with Sam) that Sam was was gay..not openly but that he had apporached this particular neighbor who declined the offer. I don’t know if this is true & I just haven’t checked into it. Instead, after my surgery, my daughter became ill & needed for my Granddaughter to stay with me for I threw my life into caring for others. You would be surprised how easy it is to stuff emotions when you try..but eventually, you do reap what you sow..& today, I find that I am tired of playing at this sham…let me also add that during these yrs, we have done absolutely no socializing: we have never even gone out to eat nor to a’s really sad when I step back & see how I just let my life pass by without me being along for the ride..but alas! as I said, the new day is here as I am preparing for a new life..with anticipation & hesitation equally. Still, I know that nothing could ever feel as “empty” as these last few yrs. So, why did I sit down & write such a lengthy tome? I can’t answer that other than to say I was pretty certain that no one else would say “ten years” when it came to how long you have gone without sex!! I can also assure you that I will never again wait 10 yrs!!

  5. Maybe I have a cynical view of men and their ability to stay faithful, but my view is if that men want to keep their man happy and faithful, they should put in some effort and initiate. Although there was a scary statistic cited in a recent Marie Claire article that “according to recent research conducted by Jennifer Gauvain, a therapist in Denver, 30 percent of now-divorced women say they knew in their gut they were making a mistake as they walked down the aisle

  6. My wife and I are 50…been married for 30yrs.
    Over that time I’ve initiated sex 95% of the time. I’ve gotten to the point where I refuse to ask or suggest. If I do she will not turn me down. Point is it would mean so much more to me if she asked me or took my hand and led me to the bedroom. Seems like she can live without it. Along with the actual sex, I miss the closeness of laying next to her. When it was like that I felt so close to her on all levels. Nowadays she wonders why I seem so distant. We are more like roommates than husband and wife. Add to this that she is a homebody i.e. doesn’t like to travel, won’t ride on my motorcycle with me, etc……I have no one to share anything with…not even a simple walk hand in hand through the neighborhood…..

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