What exactly does a satisfying sex life look like? It’s a good question to consider. Because when we have a sense of what we’re aiming for, it can be easier to determine the steps we need to take to get there.
Sex and relationship researchers and clinicians often use the term “sexual satisfaction” to describe the degree to which people are happy and content with their sexual lives. Researchers have developed various tools to try to measure just how sexually satisfied a person is, such as the Index of Sexual Satisfaction, Global Measure of Sexual Satisfaction, and New Sexual Satisfaction Scale-Short. These are essentially short questionnaires, often based on psychological frameworks and then scientifically validated for accuracy, that are believed to paint an accurate picture of how someone feels about their own sex life.
Different measuring rubrics represent different theories about what it means to have a good sex life. Some focus their questions on how much physical sensation a person experiences, while others assess the interpersonal connection they have with their sexual partners. Sometimes it’s as simple as asking a person, “How satisfied are you with your sex life on a scale from 1 to 5?”
There isn’t consensus about the “right way” to assess sexual satisfaction, and experts have found shortcomings with most of these measuring tools when used for large populations and are continuing to test out new ones. The reason is simple: it’s difficult to create any one set of questions or “signs” of a good sex life that will apply to everyone.
The truth, and this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, is that there isn’t one single definition of “satisfying sex.” What’s satisfying to one person may not be satisfying to another. It’s all about what feels good for each particular individual and what matters most to them when it comes to sex.
So, to get you thinking about how you feel about your sex life, below are nine signs that suggest someone has a satisfying sex life, based on the aforementioned measuring tools used by researchers to assess sexual satisfaction. They may not fully capture what satisfaction looks like for everyone, but they can offer some interesting insights for any person looking to gauge how they feel about their intimate world — and what areas, if any, could use some improvement.
1. You feel content with your current sex life.
When you know, you know. Sometimes, it’s that simple. As far as you’re personally concerned, you would say you have a pretty good sex life. You as an individual enjoy the sex you have and how often you have it. Or, you’re not having sex these days, or at all, and that’s how you like it. Great! If it’s working for you, don’t change it.
Either way, you have nothing really to complain about as far as your sex life goes, nothing seems to be dramatically lacking or missing, and there’s no real stress or difficulties around sex. And if something does come up, you feel perfectly able to address it and get things back to a good place.
2. You can really get into it.
When you do have sex, you’re able to really get physically and mentally turned on. You’re able to focus on your body, the physical sensations of pleasure, the eroticism of the experience, and your connection to your partner. You feel like you can really “let go” and surrender to the pleasure, without getting distracted, stressed, or otherwise pulled out of the moment.
If or when it’s important to you, you also feel like you can emotionally open up and connect with your partner during sex too. You feel like you’re able to have deep, passionate sex.
3. You’re tending to your body.
You don’t have any big issues or concerns with your ability to physically engage in sex — whether related to getting aroused, erections, ejaculation, sexual pain, or so on—or you feel able to manage and deal with any challenges you do have. Or, if physical conditions impact your sex life, you feel like you’ve got strategies in place to make it work.
4. You feel good about the quality and frequency of your orgasms.
Orgasms aren’t necessary for good sex, though for some people, consistently having great orgasms does matter a lot. Whatever the case is for you, you feel content with how often you’re having orgasms. And if orgasm is part of your sexual experience, you feel content with the types of stimulation used to get you there, the length of time it takes, and how those orgasms physically feel for you.
5. There’s a balance between what you give and what you receive.
It’s not just about you! The people you’re having sex with are also having a mighty fine time. If you’re in a long-term relationship, you feel like your partner cares about and takes care of your sexual needs. You feel like you both pleasure and satisfy each other. You like your partner’s moves, and they like yours.
This applies even if we’re talking about casual sexual partners, too. Whether or not you’re in a relationship, you’re putting in the effort to make sure your partner or partners enjoy the sex you’re having — basically, they’re able to say “yes” to all the items on this list, too.
6. You’re comfortable talking about sex with your partner.
Good sex depends on good communication. This one especially matters for people in long-term relationships, but it also applies to casual sexual partners. In a healthy sex life, you and your partner can talk openly (and be receptive to conversations about) your sex life, including things that you like and don’t like, want and don’t want, and so on. No one gets defensive or avoids these conversations, and you both feel like you can talk about your deepest desires, needs, and emotions with each other. You also feel like you can talk about any issues in your sex life without worrying about it negatively impacting your relationship or how your partner feels about you.
7. You feel like you and your partner are sexually compatible.
This one’s specifically for those in long-term relationships. In general, feel like you and your partner have similar or compatible needs, desires, styles, preferences, beliefs, and attitudes related to sex. This might include how often you two want sex, when the mood for sex arises, who initiates sex, what kinds of stuff you want to do in bed, how important sex is to each of you, how important sex is in a relationship, and more. Importantly, if you feel like there’s any place where the two of you differ (which is inevitable), then you’re able to compromise and make it work in a way that feels good for both of you.
8. You like the amount of excitement and creativity in your sex life.
Not everyone needs fireworks and a new acrobatic position to try every time they have sex. But in general, you feel good about the amount of variety in your sex life. That might apply to the mix of sexual acts in which you engage, the frequency with which you experiment with new kinks and dynamics, or the variety of partners with whom you’re having sex (if applicable).
If you’re with a long-term partner, the two of you are both physically attracted to each other and always finding fresh ways to turn each other on. On the flip side, if you feel like your sex life tends to be a little monotonous, mechanical, obligatory, or (gulp) boring, those are all signs that there’s probably a little room for improvement in this area.
9. In general, sex is a fun and positive thing in your life.
If you have sex, it’s because you like having sex. It puts you in a good mood. It isn’t a chore, nor is it something to be ashamed of or avoided. You feel like sex is a pleasant, positive, and valuable activity in your life that you’re free to engage in when you want, without fear of judgment and also without pressure. If you’re in a relationship, you feel like your sex life adds to it. It’s one of many things you do to have fun, connect, and just feel good.