How often do you have sex? Twice a week? A month? Or even a year? Glamorous comedian Katherine Ryan has admitted she has sex ‘exactly twice a month’ with her partner Bobby Kootstra.
The 40-year-old also revealed the couple diarise their bi-monthly love-making to ensure it happens. Whether you react to that with envy or pity will no doubt tell you much about your own sex life.
Humans, it seems, have an innate interest in what other people get up to in bed. None of us wants to think we’re an outlier, and yet research shows we all over-estimate — often wildly — how much sex everyone else is getting.
In the interests of scientific inquiry, and potentially to make us all feel better, we asked some brave leading writers to reveal their numbers…
I’m semi-retired from sex — it’s liberating
Marion McGilvary, 66
Personally, I have as much interest in sex as I do in a two-week holiday to North Korea.
Fractionally less, if I’m honest. For most of my life Mr Libido has ruled supreme, but with the combination of the menopause (the gift that keeps on giving) and long-relationship fatigue, I’ve finally broken free of its grip.
The urge that wreaked havoc, leading me into so much trouble and the beds of many highly disreputable and truly regrettable men, has finally packed his suitcase and left.
I feel liberated. Luckily my current partner is happily engaged in a loving relationship with football, country walks and his shed, so we are as one on this subject and united by very infrequent, possibly biannual, forays into conjugal bliss.
Turns out neither of us can be bothered. Yes, perhaps if Idris Elba abseiled in with a box of Milk Tray, I might be persuaded… or then again perhaps not.
Marion McGilvary, 66, says ‘who has the energy for a lover, let alone the maintenance required to support one?’
Who has the energy for a lover, let alone the maintenance required to support one? Not to mention the emotional entanglements that creep in, uninvited, which lead to feelings.
Without them, sex is mechanical. With them, it’s troublesome.
I have all the feelings I need at this point in my life and have no desire to embark on a relationship which will eventually lead me to the same place I am now — watching the telly with a man who wears slippers.
A young friend told me I had given her the best advice ever, which was to make sure she had sex at least weekly and not get out of the habit.
She claims it saved her marriage. It didn’t save mine, but perhaps that’s because he was having it and I wasn’t. But now it’s all moot. I’m semi-retired. Lest you think this is a select club with only a few members, think again. Ask around. Sex is like caffeine. Many of us have given it up.
My lovely whippet is getting in the way
Hannah Betts, 52
The actress Mrs Patrick Campbell described marriage as the ‘deep, deep peace of the double bed after the hurly-burly of the chaise longue’.
After nine years together, the profundity of our peace is indeed pure bliss. Nothing makes me happier than hitting the sack with Terence, 49. However, rather more hurly-burly would be welcome.
The lack of it is not for reasons of boredom or complacency. Far from it. Instead, a blight descended upon our erotic existence when we began living together five years ago — a blight that is beautiful, neurotic and hotly adored. In short, we’d be at it a lot more were it not for Pimlico, our whippet, who is the ultimate barrier-method contraception.
Pim body-blocks anything remotely resembling sexual contact, from catching each other’s eye upwards.
Hannah Betts, 52, says nothing makes her ‘happier than hitting the sack’ with her partner
At night, she sleeps between us, or between our legs, guarding against any possible action. As a dog therapist we consulted explained, ours is a polyamorous throuple in which the focus is very much on her.
The irony is not lost on me that I type this after a weekend in which we set Pim up on a romantic mini-break to see whether she would like to get to know a dashing whippet bachelor. Alas, they appeared content to remain in the friend zone.
But we were Pim-less and able to enter the erotic one. It was wonderful; middle-age brings with it a fabulously improved skillset. It made us realise how ridiculous we are being.
We’re lucky enough not to have children to get in the way and still find each other attractive. Time to resolve this ‘high days and holidays’ lunacy.
We shower together after the school run
Kate Wills, 39
When I tell other women in long-term relationships that my partner Guy and I have sex four to five times a week, they look shocked.
Most of my social circle only manage it a couple of times a month. A few of them haven’t had sex in more than a year. That seems like a real shame to me.
When Guy and I first got together in 2019 we would have sex every day, sometimes several times a day.
Of course, now we’re older and have a three-year-old daughter, our magic number has gone down a bit. But we always try to make time to have sex regularly, even if that means scheduling it in.
Kate Wills, 39, reveals she has sex four to five times a week with her partner Guy
I love feeling desired and sexy; it is one of the few times in the day when I can turn my to-do-list-whirring-brain off.
A big mistake I think a lot of couples make is waiting until the very end of the day to even think about initiating sex.
That’s when you’re at your most tired and/or too full because you had a curry for dinner.
Guy and I will sometimes set an alarm half an hour before our daughter wakes up so we can have morning sex, or we’ll shower together after we’ve dropped her at school. There’s no rule that sex has to be in the bedroom with the lights out.
I think it helps that we both work from home, so we can sneak in a quick cuddle in the middle of the day. Yes, we do triple check that our Zoom cameras are turned off!
At 63 my sex life is better than ever
Sudi Pigott, 63
Being in love again just post 60 is exhilarating, sometimes tempestuous, and my sex life is better than ever.
Yes, in the heady early days of meeting Stephen, we’d almost always go to bed as soon as he arrived in London from his Suffolk cottage, or as soon as I got to his place.
Even as a committed foodie writing on restaurants and all things culinary for a living, dinner had to wait and take second place.
More than two years on, our appetite has settled a little and we rarely wake up in the middle of the night for a spot of fun as we did.
Yet, we remain joyously hungry for each other.
Sudi Pigott, 63, describes her sex life as ‘better than ever’
We met through a dating website after I’d had a long period of short-term, intermittent relationships with only occasional really good sex and more inconsiderate or simply poor or incapable performers.
What perhaps helps to keep the passion so ignited is that we don’t live together. Stephen still lives in Suffolk three nights a week, so it always feels exciting when we see each other again.
Yes, the realities of life and work have intervened, yet we still average sex twice a weekend, unless we’re on holiday and have all the time in the world.
Our most regular time for sex is Sunday mornings. Stephen flexes his barista skills to bring up coffee in bed.
Then we have plenty of time for unhurried, considerate sex before listening, rather appropriately, to Michael Berkeley on BBC Radio 3’s Private Passions.
I live on a boat and it’s too cold for intimacy!
Hilary Freeman, 52
These days, my partner Mickael and I talk about having sex far more than we actually do it.
The conversation, in bed, usually goes something like this. Me: ‘How long is it since we had sex?’
Him, mentally calculating: ‘I don’t know. It has been a while. After that party? We should probably do it.’ I reply: ‘Yes, and I’d like to, but I’m much too tired and you have to get up at five.’
‘OK.’ Looking hopeful, ‘Let’s do it tomorrow night?’
And when tomorrow night arrives: ‘I’m sorry but I can’t keep my eyes open. Let’s do it on Saturday.’
And so on. Put simply, while our minds are willing, our bodies are generally too knackered.
Hilary Freeman, 52, says she and her partner Mickael talk about having sex far more than they actually do it
Mickael does shift work, often leaving in the early hours or returning after midnight.
Factor in that we have a curious eight-year-old child and that we live on a boat with thin, plywood walls, and sex goes out the porthole.
When we first got together, 14 years ago, we couldn’t keep our hands off each other.
Our relationship was long-distance for three years, which helped to prolong that exciting, honeymoon phase.
Of course, we are older now and familiarity saps desire. But sex is still important to both of us. We always get on better when we’ve been recently intimate.
As an agony aunt who frequently gives sex advice, I’m aware that experts say you’re supposed to schedule love-making to end a dry spell.
But dishing out advice is easier than taking it. Diarising sex simply doesn’t work for us.
It makes it feel like just another chore — buy milk, do tax return, have intercourse — and we need the frisson of spontaneity.
That’s particularly hard to come by at this time of year, when the boat is so cold that we go to bed wearing deeply unsexy (and impractical to quickly remove) socks, thermals and leggings.
However, all is not lost. If you average it out, we still manage sex twice a month.
Friends discuss how to avoid having sex
Susannah Jowitt, 55
Evening sex doesn’t work once you get to the age of separate bedtimes. I want to enjoy a long hot soak in the bath, while hubby drops off after one page of his latest heavy biography.
Over the 25 years of our marriage, Sunday morning has become the only time we wake up together and know we’ve got nothing else pressing to do. Books are set aside. Phones are left on silent. Knees start to tremble.
Sadly, even this pedestrian routine is racy in comparison to many of our friends. They haven’t had sex for weeks, months, even years.
Susannah Jowitt, 55, says ‘the trouble is that women have often stopped fancying their husband, though they still love them’
I know this from too many girls’ nights when talk turns to how to avoid having sex with your husband. One friend has cultivated a pre-bed beauty routine so heavily laced with unguents and serums that her husband would simply slide off her without gaining purchase, even if he could ignore the medicinal aromas and death-pallor of the creams.
The trouble is that women have often stopped fancying their husband, though they still love them. This is the trouble with everyone being on HRT: we feel young, sexed-up and vibrant once more — but our husbands are not on HRT and are often fat, bald and snore.
I do have two pairs of friends who still have sex every night. My husband and I talk about them in tones of awe. Every night! ‘It’s why I have no social life and never get to read the book-club book,’ one of them tells me.
‘Neither of us drink any more so it’s how we guarantee a good night’s sleep,’ says the other.