When it comes to having a healthy sex life, the recipe isn't always clear. For some people, the chemistry comes easy. But for others, you don't always know what it takes to make the sex great — and even once it is great, you have to work at what you do to keep it that way. There's definitely an X factor involved. I mean, there are the basic building blocks of a good relationship and those apply to a good sex life too — like communication.
"If two people struggle with being honest with each other outside of the bedroom, it is very likely that they will not be comfortable being honest with each other in the bedroom," relationship coach and founder of Maze of Love, Chris Armstrong, tells Bustle. And you definitely want to make sure that those are in order. But there's more to a healthy sex life than that — and not everyone's sex life looks the same.
It comes down to the individual people involved and the dynamic between the two of them, so you shouldn't make any assumptions about what having a great sex life means. Here are seven misconceptions about couples with healthy sex lives, because it's about way more than just chemistry:
1. They Have Sex 24/7
Having a great sex life doesn't mean having sex all the time. It means that both people are getting their needs meant. "A healthy sex drive is different for each person," Amy Levine, sex coach and founder of Ignite Your Pleasure, tells Bustle. "Overall, it's when we feel balanced in our desire (it feels good to us, as opposed to something being off whether too high or low) and sexually fulfilled whether it's alone or with a partner." Ideally you have some spontaneous sex, some romantic sex, some playful sex — but how much you're having is up to debate.
2. It Started Easy
Like I said, the spark isn't always there at the beginning. Some people work to have a good sex life, rather than it just happening automatically. I've had some really bad first time sex with people I ended up having great sex with down the road. It's not like a magic on switch.
3. And It's Still Easy
No matter how long you've been together and how great the sex is, you need to keep checking in and having those uncomfortable conversations once in a while. "[Couples with healthy sex lives] have awkward conversations," sexologist and relationship expert Dr. Nikki Goldstein tells Bustle. "Often people can have sex but are scared to talk about it out of fear that might offend their partner or it might be awkward. In order to have a healthy sex life you need to have sometimes awkward conversations about what might not be working in the bedroom or what you want more or less of." They're not always fun, but they're integral to keeping your sex life healthy.
4. It's Just Between The Two Of Them
While some people are more private than others, a great sex life often doesn't come from just the two of you. Talking to other people about any concerns or questions can do wonders for your sex life. "I think talking about sex with your friends can help normalize interests and behaviors and it can also spark your imagination," Sarah Watson, licensed professional counselor and sex therapist, tells Bustle. "Friends can encourage you to try new things and expand your horizons. In my experience most people aren't educated on how to talk about sex so starting with your friends in a loving and safe environment can be very helpful!" So if your sex drive needs an improvement, don't be afraid to seek some advice.
5. They Don't Need To Masturbate
Haha — NOPE. Even if you have the most banging sex life in the world, a lot of us still like our solo sex time. "It's important not only to know how to self-pleasure but also to be able to show your partner how you like things done," Dr. Goldstein says. "Masturbation does not have to be a solo sport, it can be something that is done together when penetrative sex might be off the table." But whether it's alone or solo, you're totally entitled to masturbation time.
6. That It Only Lasts For The First Year
Great sex lives are not just a honeymoon phase thing. Yes, there's definitely something really special about those early days of having sex and discovering each other, but if you a healthy sex life can stay great, way after the beginning of the relationship.
In fact, Chapman University, California State University, Sonoma State University, and at the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University surveyed nearly 39,000 heterosexuals who had been in relationships for at least three years to find out what sexually satisfied couples in long-term relationships had in common. The study found that 75 percent of sexually satisfied men and 74 percent of sexually satisfied women reported that "I love you" was said during their last sexual encounter, which was only the case with 49 percent of men and 44 percent of women who were dissatisfied with their sex life in their LTR.
7. That It's Always Great
Not every time you have sex is going to be the best time of your life. I have amazing sex with my girlfriend and I accidentally head-butted her and got into a giggle fit. I wouldn't say it was the sexiest encounter, but we still have a great sex life. Don't be worried if one orgasm is underwhelming or if it doesn't feel as sexy as normal (or you head-butt your girlfriend right in the damn face), it happens once in a while.
Images: Andrew Zaeh for Bustle; Giphy (7)