How often a couple has sex varies depending on many different factors. It goes without saying that when partners have different sex drives it can have a large effect on the frequency of sex. However, other considerations like contrasting schedules, stress, medical issues, fighting and lack of energy can play a surprisingly-large role as well.

Frequency of Sex Declines Over Time

Regardless of whether any of these external factors are present in the relationship, researchers have found that frequency of sex starts to decline after about a year of being together. This phenomenon is a natural part of the progression of a relationship, and is simply the result of the "honeymoon phase" wearing off. It shouldn't cause any problems as long as both partners' libidos decline at around the same rate.

In some cases, couples find that only one partner experiences a decline in libido, leaving the higher-libido partner unsatisfied. Sex therapists agree that in a high-libido/low-libido couple, two-thirds of the time it's the woman who has the lower libido. Interestingly, a new study has found that libido aside, the woman's personality also determines how often a couple has sex.

The "Big Five" Personality Traits

The "Big Five" model of personality is a way of understanding human personality that is based on decades of psychology research. It is one of the more scientifically-supported models of personality, of which there are many. Under the Big Five model, people don't necessarily have personality "types," but rather five different dimensions that make up their personality.

The Big Five personality traits include:

  • Openness to experience, or how much you enjoy adventures and trying new things.
  • Conscientiousness. How often are you late for appointments? How clean is your house?
  • Extroversion, which refers to how much you crave socializing and being the life of the party.
  • Agreeableness, meaning how much you enjoy making others happy.
  • Neuroticism, or how badly you react to negative life experiences.

New Study Shows Frequency of Sex Depends on Woman's Personality

A study published in the Journal of Research in Personality looked at the relationship between Big Five personality trait scores and the frequency of sex in newlyweds. This study combined data from three independent studies, involving a total of 278 newly married couples who participated in a personality assessment followed by a 14-day diary of their sex life.

Study Finds Frequency of Sex Influenced by a Woman's PersonalityArguably the most important finding from this study was that the personality traits of wives, but not those of husbands, predicted the frequency of sex. Specifically, women with high agreeableness scores were more likely to have lots of sex. High openness scores also predicted more sex, though this relationship was weaker. To help you understand why these correlations exist, people with high agreeableness scores tend to be more compassionate, trusting, and generous, and people with high openness scores are more willing to try new things.

The study also found that while your partner's personality doesn't affect your level of sexual satisfaction, your own personality does. The researchers discovered that people with lower neuroticism scores were more satisfied with their sex life. People with low neuroticism scores experience less stress, depression and anxiety, so this finding certainly makes sense.

Resolving Conflicts About Sexual Frequency

When one partner has a lower libido, it can be very hard on both partners. The greater the difference in libido, the more stressful it becomes. The higher-libido partner will likely feel rejected, unloved and sexually frustrated, while the lower-libido partner may feel pressured, annoyed, or guilty.

It's very important that a couple remains happy with their sex life, as researchers agree that a good sex life means a better relationship. Fortunately, libido differences can be dealt with and even alleviated. It takes work, but many low-libido/high-libido couples make it work and enjoy happy, long-lasting marriages.

To keep your bond with your partner strong, make an effort to enjoy physical affection, such as cuddling and kissing, together in a non-sexual way. For higher-libido partners, the lack of physical affection caused by lack of sex can be much worse than the lack of sex itself. It's important for each partner to know what the other needs in order to feel loved.

The lower-libido partner can take measures to optimize his or her libido. Good diet, plenty of sleep, stress relief and regular exercise are key components of a libido-friendly lifestyle. Natural supplements such as maca root, ginseng, ginger, L-arginine and zinc can naturally increase desire for sex.

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