Sex sells, big time, right? We're bombarded with it constantly in movies, TV, media - no woman's mag is complete without a How To sex tip. We must aspire to do it perfectly, to have multiple orgasms daily, and most important of all, there's the implication that if we want to be successful, beautiful people, we've got to have lots and lots of sex. It's a ridiculous message on at least two counts.
Firstly, we all lie about sex - or so most sex surveys insist. So who's to know for sure if any of us have good sex, bad sex, or no sex? We lie selectively of course. A woman, for instance, might say she's hardly ever had sex with anyone at all, even remotely, when asked by her new boyfriend, because she doesn't want to seem like a slapper. A guy might boast about a whole bunch of mythical conquests to impress his mates when he's really hardly ever had sex with anyone at all, even remotely.
And secondly, who's to say how much sex is good for us? In my novel, Thursdays in the Park, my heroine finally tells her friend that she hasn't had sex for eight years, with her husband or anyone else. And her friend is gobsmacked. But it's probably not uncommon for couples to have little or no sex as they get older - or even not very old. And to be perfectly happy about it.
I tend to assume, perhaps naively, that people I know have entirely 'normal' sex lives. (Although I do recall one bloke who told me he needed to have sex at least ten times a day. Really? With whom?) But I don't know one way or the other. I never ask my friends how many times they bonk and never talk about my sex life to them. This might be because I'm British - unless you're a hot celebrity, sexual revelation isn't a national pastime in the UK - or because I'm a woman, older, married, or all of the above.
And marriage is definitely a bit of a dark hole when it comes to sex. Even if we talk about sex before marriage, many of us clam up once we're hitched. Makes sense really, it'd be mean and sort of dumb to expose your partner's lurid - or tiresomely not-so-lurid? - sexual foibles to a friend who then has to chat to him across the dinner table or share a Tuscan villa holiday.
The problem, obviously, comes when one wants it, the other - for any number of complex reasons - does not. So what do you do if your partner says No and you're dying for it? It must be very distressing. Do you vamp up in a bustier, black stockings and scarlet lippy, (assuming you're a woman that is) ply him with booze and leap on him, risking a humiliating rejection? Do you leg it and find someone else to have sex with? Do you send him to a shrink? Do you, like the heroine in my novel, do nothing at all, because she simply doesn't know what to do?
I'm afraid I don't have the answer. And my sex life is perfect of course. I have sex at least twenty times a day, every day - with my husband or anyone passing - even though I'm over sixty. And I'm not taking part in a sex survey, so I must be telling the truth!