Let me be real here. I’m young, hot, have a solid career, and a great personality. I’m outgoing, “put myself out there,” and don’t stick to a particular type when it comes to guys. However, my sex life is in the pits. I can’t tell you the last time I got laid — maybe about nine months ago? A year? — and I certainly don’t have any prospects on the horizon. So how much sex is normal? And am I completely alone in this?
- All my friends are having plenty of sex. Or so it seems. I feel like every other day, one of my girls is texting me about some dude she hooked up with last night. The experience isn’t always mind-blowing (in fact, it rarely is), but at least they’re getting some action. I’m always there to support them/get the goss, but I inevitably end up feeling like sh-t about myself because I have no stories of my own to offer up. I sort of feel like I’m not normal because of how much sex they’re having and how much I’m not.
- I’m not getting any younger. These are some of the hottest years in my life, so I should be out there putting this body to good use. I’m toned, my boobs are perky, I have a nice ass… and literally no one is getting to see it! I’m worried that by the time I actually find someone to have sex with, I’ll be going downhill in terms of physical appearance. And yes, I know hotness isn’t everything, it plays a major part in sexual attraction.
- There’s so much I haven’t experienced. Admittedly, there’s only so much I’m actually interested in trying when it comes to sex because my tastes veer towards the more normal or “vanilla” end of the spectrum. However, I feel like I’m missing out on something by not having had a threesome or tried anal or whatever. Neither of those things are particularly appealing, but I feel like everyone else is doing it and I’m being left in the sexual dark ages.
- Having so little sexual experience makes me feel self-conscious. Regardless of how much sex is normal to be having regularly, it’s the effects of my involuntary celibacy that concerns me. When I do finally meet a solid guy to date, is it going to be a turn-off for me to be more inexperienced than him? Am I going to seem like a weirdo because I haven’t slept with someone in so long? Is he going to expect me to know certain things that I just don’t? I can’t think about it too much or it sends me over the edge.
- I just can’t do casual hookups. Whenever I voice the slightest bit of my feelings about this to my friends, they always suggest that I go out with them on Saturday night and just pick a random attractive guy to hook up with. Yes, that would scratch the itch and I’m sure plenty of guys would want to sleep with me, but that’s not my normal approach to sex and it’s not something I’m comfortable with. That’s yet another thing to feel insecure about — is there some fuse wired differently in me that I can’t just see things for what they are and go do it? I know deep down that’s terrible and not what I should be doing, but when I start to fixate on this, I can almost convince myself that I should.
So, how much sex is normal?
This question looms so large in my brain that I decided to do some research to see if a) I’m the only one who feels this way (I’m not!) and b) what can be done about it. As it turns out, it’s known as “sexual FOMO” and it’s actually a pretty common thing. Who knew?
- Turns out, my perception is totally warped. As psychologist Petra Zebroff, Ph.D., points out, sexual FOMO is all about worrying that we’re missing out on the sex we think everyone else is having that they probably actually aren’t. In other words, it might seem like all my girlfriends are getting it on nonstop but in reality, that’s not the case for most of them. And, if I really think about it, their hookup stories aren’t coming hard and fast on a daily basis – more like every couple of months.
- What causes sexual FOMO? Since it’s so common to wonder how much sex is normal and to start believing that you’re not having enough of it, it has to be coming from somewhere, right? Zebroff believes the pressure I’m feeling (and that we’re all feeling!) to be doing it way more often comes from the media. “After all, we all know that sex sells. But only a particular type of sex sells—easy, spontaneous, and ‘clean’ sex. As a result, FOMO-sex falls into a predictable script, one that we have all seen repeatedly on large and small screens and in erotica and romance novels,” she writes. “You might recognize it, a magical energy effortlessly pulls two lovers together, bypassing laws of physics and physiology to create instantaneous, spectacular, and reciprocal lust. The FOMO-sex script assumes we have unwavering spontaneous erections, lasting natural lubrication, and multiple orgasms without the need for clitoral stimulation.”
- It can manifest in all different ways. It’s not just single women who wonder how much sex is normal and who get insecure about their lackluster sex lives. It happens to women (and men!) in relationships too, who worry about all the sex they’re missing out on by only sleeping with one person. I get that, I guess. I go on and on about how much I want a boyfriend to sleep with regularly, but would I then feel like I’d settled too early for the sake of not being completely celibate? It’s a total mindf–k, and millennial (and even Gen Z) women are experiencing it in spades. “We’re seeing a new generation of women who feel like they should be living it up sexually,” explains psychotherapist and sociologist Leslie C. Bell, PhD, author of Hard to Get: Twenty-Something Women and the Paradox of Sexual Freedom. “There’s a feeling that you need to be spending your 20s figuring yourself out by having as many sexual experiences as you can.” Ugh, you’ve got that right.
- There is no such thing as a “normal” amount of sex to be having. That’s the top and bottom of it. If you’re having sex every day and that’s what works for you, go for it. I’m now making a conscious effort to stop stressing so much about something so arbitrary. Sex with a great guy will happen when it does. In the meantime, at least I’ve got my vibrator?