Andrea and Allan have been married for more than 30 years and think they have an ideal relationship except for one thing: They only make love once a month — at most.
See also: How Does Your Sex Life Rate?
Their sexual frequency hasn't always been this low. In fact, when they first met, the couple found time for romance once a day, sometimes more. But now Andrea wonders if their sex life is typical for people at their stage of life — or if it says something troubling about their relationship.
"Am I normal?" Andrea asks.
That's a question many people have about their behaviors and beliefs. We're all curious to know how our version of normal life compares with other people's versions. Do the core elements of our relationship — from how often we kiss to how open we are about our finances — reflect a wider pattern? Is what's normal for you the same as what's normal for others like you?
I'm part of a team undertaking an extensive study that will attempt to answer such questions. I'm working with author Chrisanna Northrup and sociologist James Witteof George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., to conduct an online, interactive survey called, "The Normal Bar."
If you click on The Normal Bar link, you can participate in this survey on love, sexuality and other matters related to dating, marriage and other romantic relationships right from AARP's website. Your participation is anonymous. There are some general questions about yourself and your relationship. Then there are 17 modules where you can take our poll on a wide range of topics. Chose the modules that most interest you. I suggest starting with the ones on sex and money, which include questions designed specifically for AARP.
In a few months, we'll compile all the data and analyze it by gender, income, age, religion, ethnicity, race and a variety of other factors. I'll be posting the results in this space. So if you're wondering — am I normal? — here's your chance to find out.
Dr. Pepper Schwartz, AARP's love and relationship expert, is a professor of sociology at the University of Washington in Seattle.