Hey Noah –
My husband and I have been together for over ten years. When we first started dating we were constantly having sex – sometimes multiple times per day. We were borderline ravenous. Over the years and since moving in together, our sex life has dropped off dramatically. We struggle to find the ganas to have sex more than once a month. We still get off all the time – just not together. Yes, porn. I always joke with our lesbian friends about “lesbian bed death”, but I feel like a complete outlier as a fit and active gay man. Are we normal? Are other gay couples in long-term relationships having as much sex as our friends like to brag about?
Joshua, 38, San Francisco
What is normal, anyway? My views on this subject are extensive and rational.
Blame porn, blame social media and the disconnected lives we lead with our heads buried in feeds rather than each other. Or blame it on the fact that Americans just seem to be having less sex. Whatever the root causes may be, there are easy ways to avoid succumbing to dry spells with your partner with some communication, planning and habit formation.
Let’s start by clearing the air around a common misconception within the gay community – that we’re a bunch of sex addicts banging everywhere and every day. It’s simply not true, although historically sexual freedom and liberation have been at the forefront of gay life since, well, forever. Many consider gay sex to be a defining root of the collective gay experience. The key is that all of us are different, which leads me to my first point.
Admit your Differences
Open communication and compromise is key. We all have different sex drives, and some of us have a much higher baseline than our partners. Baselines also fluctuate based on life situations. What was once a desire for daily sex can easily vacillate to little or almost no desire because of a particularly stressful period of life like a job change or a move. Perhaps you are satisfied with a monthly romp, but your partner is craving some more behind the scenes – that’s okay. Being open about your expectations (and differences) from the beginning, sharing when those expectations change and compromising on both sides will ultimately help bring you closer emotionally and physically.
Make a Plan
Not your parents’ Saturday morning plan, but a plan nonetheless. Setting expectations ahead of time doesn’t mean ruining the spontaneity but committing to a certain amount of times per day, week or month. Scheduling sex dates like any other date not only allows for the essential bottom prep but keeps you both honest and prepared.
Consider the Science of Habit Formation
Habit formation is a fascinating social science and something that we’ll frequently reference on Wellfellow. Creating a hard-coded habit involves a cue, a routine, and a reward. For example, a cue could be sleeping in late on the weekend, and waking up without an alarm to your peacefully dozing boyfriend next to you in bed. You begin to create a routine of morning sex based on this cue, and the reward is obvious – or maybe you add in an additional reward of brunch at your favorite restaurant. Educate yourself on how habits drive our daily decisions, and commit to a loop that works for you.
Don’t Default to Porn
Porn is quick and easy. And we have nothing against porn (with some exceptions).
Exception #1 – porn should not become your default way to get off.
Exception #2 – porn should not isolate you, your kinks or your expectations around sex.
By limiting your solo porn time, you force yourself to redirect your sexual outlet back to your relationship rather than your MacBook.
We know that some regular sexual contact is important for the vitality of relationships. So get on with it, but stop worrying about your normal gay quota.
Talk it out, and create a routine