Let’s talk about sex. More specifically — maintenance sex. The term describes a specific kind of intimacy: The kind you engage in regularly even when you may not necessarily be “in the mood" in order to keep your relationship running smoothly. But how often do you have maintenance sex? Is there such a thing as too little or too much?
The very term “maintenance sex” is not exactly sexy. But the reality is, it can be a relationship saver. When two people initially begin dating, things are typically steamy AF. There’s so much to experience and discover together. (Who knew that would feel good? Did we invent that position, or what?) Of course, over time, the novelty of it wears off, and for some couples, that leads to getting it on far less often (see: the saddest subReddit ever, Deadbedrooms). Why is this problematic? Well, according to a 2016 study published in Social Psychological and Personality Science, when couples have sex less than once a week, their overall happiness actually suffers. The good news? Having sex more than once a week didn't really make a difference — so as long as couples were making that happen at least once in that seven-day time frame, they were golden.
Enter: maintenance sex, which encourages you and your SO to keep up with physical intimacy, thus preventing those dreaded dry spells. It's crucial to note that both people have to be down to do the deed — you should never feel forced or obligated to have sex. As for how often partners should participate in this routine — that’s obviously going to vary based on their needs. But here's what a handful of people had to say about their habits.
Step one: Decide it's going down.
I’d say we have maintenance sex an average of about four times a week. Most of the time it follows a pretty standard script: agree we’re both down, start making out, he gives me a little love to help get me going, and then it's business time.
— Margot, 30
Three time's a charm.
We try to have maintenance sex three times a week. If it’s nearing the end of the week and I realize we haven’t really been making time for it (because we’ve both been busy, working late, exhausted, etc.) I’ll send him a racy text to get his imagination going. Then we both know what’s going down when we get home, and it’s exciting to have something to look forward to for the rest of the workday.
— Kelly, 26
Flexible maintenance FTW.
When we weren’t living together, we had sex about four times a week. Now, I’d say we try to keep up with the maintenance sex twice a week. There have definitely been weeks where it’s more than that, and weeks where we only manage to have sex one time. But as long as we don’t let weeks and weeks go by, it doesn’t seem to matter whether it happens one time or five times.
— Erik, 29
The one-time minimum.
I’m not quite sure how we fell into this routine (it wasn’t a conscious thing) but ever since we moved in together, we pretty much always make it a point to have sex once a week. That frequency seems to satisfy both of us, neither of us feels like our needs are being neglected.
— Logan, 28
Freaky Fridays. That’s our night to keep up with “maintenance.” It’s anything but routine, though. We made a rule that we can’t repeat anything we did the previous week, that forces us to shake it up consistently. No complaints here.
— Ariella, 29
Apparently, most couples try to aim for some intimacy least once a week. That said, the ideal frequency will vary from couple to couple — it all comes down to what works for you both based on your unique needs, desires, and schedules.
Just because you and bae have been together for a while doesn’t mean your sex life has to go down the drain — you just may need to instigate it a bit more deliberately. That's where maintenance sex comes in. While it may not sound so exciting, those regular "tune-ups" may very well be key to keeping your bond with boo as strong as possible. It's important to note that maintenance sex definitely shouldn't feel like an obligation —remember: you should never feel pressured or forced to be intimate with someone when you're not feeling it. BTW, it doesn't have to feel routine, either. As long as you're making an effort to switch things up and try new things together on a regular basis. Hey — if Amy Poehler is on board with the idea of maintenance sex, so am I.