Counting Coitus and the Mathematics of Sex

Love and Sex

Counting Coitus and the Mathematics of Sex

Illustration: Akshita Monga/Arré

At the dawn of the first day, humanity was chill. So chill, in fact, that Joseph and Mother Mary “created” Jesus without having sex (shouts to Christianity). Post that immaculate conception, we oddly got obsessed with numbers. How many days did Jesus take to resurrect? How many years was Ram exiled for? How much did you score in your 12th boards, to how many people you’ve dated, to the number which is the greatest threat to modern relationships: How much sex should an average couple have?

If you Google this question, over 19 pages of results pop up, citing all kinds of research, based on “how much sex is healthy” to “how much is normal,” how much avoids fights, how much keeps the spark alive, or the death knell: How the lack of it leads to divorce. This is a subject so rich, a legion of glossy magazines have made their fortunes off it.

One of the more promising studies that was done over a 40-year period stated in 2015 that “couples who have sex once a week are the happiest.” Once a week seems like a normal course over which the sexual desires of a long-term couple would play out. But another couple was so incensed with such low figures that they called bullshit on the research, and decided to undertake a 30-day sex challenge, which essentially means they have to fuck at least once a day, for 30 straight days. I’m not sure what they were trying to prove at the end of it? If one of them cannot get it up on any given Monday, is that the end of happiness? Should they get into couple’s therapy asap?

But it’s not just this weird couple. It’s also us. We keep asking our friends about how often they do it and feel bad when their number exceeds yours and gloat if theirs is lower. We don’t seem to realise we are dating different people, with different desires and moods and choices and physique, and, most importantly, a relationship dynamic that is always unique. Then why does this conversation elicit an emotional response when our expectations are exceeded or not met?

This desperate everyday competition using arbitrary numbers, to essentially seem normal, yet somehow better; the “I have dated a normal number of people which must mean I am a decent human” internal argument, is confusing, frustrating, and mostly dumb. It is also emblematic of the persnicketies and generic exceptionalism which plague modern interactions.

It’s almost as if an arbitrary alarm goes off, telling you it’s time to be wet or erect and fuck

Idiotic rules like, you should wait three days before calling after a date/fight. You should wait six months before saying “I love you”. You should only marry after living together for a year. Should romance be dictated by numbers, and should sex be another deliverable on your average work day?

Applying method to what is a kind of biological madness seems… umm… madness to me. It’s almost as if an arbitrary alarm goes off, telling you it’s time to be wet or erect and fuck, mechanising what should be – and pardon my naivete here – a somewhat romantic ordeal.

Incidentally, the “how much” research leaves out the all-important quantity vs quality question. You don’t need research to tell you that most women are left unsatisfied and that half the dudes climax in two minutes. Even my Maggi takes two and a half minutes, so what the hell are we trying to prove here? That we have sex even if we don’t enjoy it because that’s what we’re “supposed” to do?

We should just chill the fuck out when it comes to the three-letter word. There are no numbers. There are only variables of the couple and the circumstance and maybe, yes, a little bit of sexual appetite. For Indians, we can add even more variables like an actual place to fuck or nosy family members. It all boils down to different value systems of the two people supposedly engaged in coitus. There are no magic numbers, only the magic phrase: No one fucking knows.