A good number of Canadians aren’t too pleased with their love or sex life.
An Ipsos poll conducted on behalf of Global News found 41 per cent of men and women in Canada thought their love or sex life was “bad.” On the flip side, however, 59 per cent of poll respondents said their sex or romantic life was “good.”
The poll also found Canadians between the ages of 18 and 34 were the most satisfied with their love and sex lives (68 per cent), while Canadians 55+ were the least satisfied (47 per cent).
Sexual health educator and relationship expert Samantha Bitty says our sex lives are often treated as a “separate entity” from the rest of our lives.
“Shift towards less mental compartmentalizing of our sex life from the rest of our life,” she said.
“The same way sexual health is not separate from overall health, what’s going on in our work or home life [affects] our sex life and vice versa.”
Having the ‘right’ amount of sex
There’s also often a pressure to have the “right” amount of sex. This can be unhealthy.
Heather Kent, a registered psychotherapist and author, says there is no “right” amount of sex for anyone.
“Each [person] is unique and has a different synergy, but checking in with your partner on whether they feel satisfied with the current frequency is a good barometer,” she said.
“If one partner is not in agreement, then this is something that should be explored together, non-judgmentally.”
What we consider sex or good sex is also worth the conversation, Bitty explains.
“Even if people are having sex together that is mutually dissatisfying, it is still socially regarded as being a more successful sex life than someone having fantastic solo sex or sexting even,” she said.
“Further, the ‘rules’ are different across genders … the ‘right’ amount of sex for men is different than for women.”
She says if you try to have the “right” amount of sex, the goal becomes unachievable.
“The only way to achieve is through self-determination: how much sex does someone want to be having, and does that require a shift in one’s definition of what kind?” Bitty said.
“It becomes an unhealthy goal when external ideas about sex are the standards we hold ourselves to and cause dissatisfaction, unhappiness or shame.”
Changing your sex and romantic life in 2020
Kent says if you are in a relationship and need a boost in your sex life, start by dating your partner again.
“Like you used to when you first started to spend time together,” she said. “Getting dressed up [or] making an effort to look your best when you go out together can reunite the spark that was initially there at the beginning of dating.”
You can also try adult games or change things up in the bedroom.
Bitty recommends treating sex like any other activity in your life and being more flexible about it.
“If time is lacking, ask yourself which resources you do have in abundance that can go towards making sex more of a reality. Is it sexual desire, money, energy?” she said.
“For partnered people, multitask … maybe it’s more sexting/mutual masturbation, sex while showering, quickies … For singles, what are you seeking? Do you have that which you want to receive, to give to someone else?”
And most importantly, adjust your expectations.
“If you’re not making time for sex then you may have to accept it is not a priority to you right now, and that’s OK.”
Kent even suggests scheduling sex to make it work.
Sex shouldn’t be stressful
Sex should never be stressful, Kent says, but many people still stress over it, whether this means having a “good” amount or thinking they aren’t “good” in bed.
“A lot of people find sex stressful due to a lack of self-confidence or self-worth,” she said.
“They have very negative self-talk about their bodies, and if you don’t feel sexy, you’re not going to be super pumped to engage in a weekly striptease.”
This is when you should take a step back and address these underlying issues, Kent says.
“Most of the time, the stress isn’t actually about the sex itself … there’s usually something bigger.
“Maybe it’s feeling a lack of communication or connection in other ways from your partner, maybe it’s a body image or personal health issue, maybe it’s a mental health issue, such as depression, anxiety or PTSD.”
This Ipsos poll, conducted on behalf of Global News, was an online survey of 1,002 Canadians conducted between Dec. 3 and 5, 2019. The results were weighted to better reflect the composition of the adult Canadian population, according to census data. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is considered accurate to within plus or minus 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.