Is Your Sex Life Normal?

by Nelly Uhlenkott on October 12, 2011

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Many people wonder whether their sex lives or sexual fantasies are normal. What are other people are doing sexually? How often do most couples have sex? Although sex and sexuality are more openly discussed than they once were, details of other people’s sex lives usually remain behind closed doors. We have to guess what really happens in the bedrooms of our peers.

In the 1930s and 1940s, Professor Alfred Kinsey developed a strong interest in understanding human sexuality. He wanted to know about people’s sexual habits and desires, and how much variety there was between individuals’ sex lives. As a professor and researcher, Kinsey wanted to take a scientific approach to answering those questions. He began conducting detailed, rigorous, and thoroughly documented investigations into people’s sexual practices. In the late 1940s, he founded the Institute for Sex Research at Indiana University to help him with his work, which caused much controversy.

Kinsey’s studies began with extensively interviewing subjects about their sexual practices and fantasies, including in-depth questions about sexual orientation, as well as information about people’s age, religion, marital status, and other demographic information. As his curiosity grew, he also began observing, participating in, and video recording sexual activity in order to more fully understand the range of human sexual practices. By the time his findings were published he had interviewed or observed over 18,000 people.

What did Kinsey discover?

Kinsey discovered that people have a huge range of fantasies, turn-ons and sexual practices. There is so much individual variety that creating standard benchmarks for an average person’s desires, sexual habits, and sexual frequency is nearly impossible. Simply put, there is no “normal” when it comes to sex.

Do you sometimes question your sexuality or wonder whether you’re completely heterosexual or homosexual? Kinsey also found through his interviews that the distinction between “homosexual” and “heterosexual” was not as clearcut as people imagined. His research showed that there’s a spectrum of people’s preference for one gender or another. He developed a heterosexuality-homosexuality scale, where 0 is exclusively heterosexual and 6 is exclusively homosexual. Most of the people Kinsey interviewed (and Kinsey himself) fell somewhere in between the two poles of this spectrum. A vast number of participant were attracted to people of both genders at some point in their lives and many had had sexual experiences with people of both genders. He also found that about 10% of men were exclusively or almost-exclusively homosexual, which was a much higher figure than was generally supposed at that time.

If you find yourself wondering whether your sex life is normal and whether you’re having sex as much as other people, keep in mind that Kinsey’s research and publications showed that there are many ways to lead normal and fulfilling sex lives – there isn’t one template for people to follow. Average and normal are hard to pin down when it comes to sex. The emotional, physical, and cognitive aspects of sex and sexual fantasies come in as many flavours as there are people.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Linda October 12, 2011 at 1:59 PM

Love the direct language and tone. We need more therapists to address sexuality and the curiosity and intrigue of it all.

Great image, too;).

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Paul Cullen, Ph.D. October 12, 2011 at 2:00 PM

Thanks for stopping by Linda. I’m in agreement with you. It’s important to ensure that sex doesn’t become a taboo topic in the therapy room like it is in so many other places. And it is a truly interesting area of our existence that is worthy of exploration.

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