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Why “Lesbian Bed Death” Is A Myth

Do lesbian couples really stop having sex after three months?
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Two lesbians meet. They move in with each other immediately. They stop having sex. They adopt eleven cats.

Chances are, you’ve heard a similar version of the lesbian love story above, and chances are, you’ve done a double take. What’s that part about not having sex?

The myth of Lesbian Bed Death (LBD) is pervasive and damaging. Legend has it – and it is just a legend – that lesbians in long-term relationships stop having sex anywhere from the three-month mark to the two-year mark, and they never regain that sexual spark. They become roommates, not lovers.

Where did this myth come from?

The idea of Lesbian Bed Death has been around for centuries. Actually, no it hasn’t. Until the 1980s, no one had even heard of LBD, and lesbians around the world had no idea that they were supposed to be scared of celibacy.

The idea comes from a book called American Couples by Pepper Schwartz. In the book, Schwartz examines the sex lives of heterosexual and homosexual couples and concludes that lesbians have the least sex. Schwartz claims that fifty percent of lesbians in relationships lasting longer than two years have sex once a month or less.

Researchers who have tried to replicate Schwartz’s study have had mixed results. Some researchers claim that lesbians do in fact have less sex than other couples, while other studies show that lesbians have the same amount of sex as heterosexual couples – or even more sex!

What are the flaws of Schwartz’s research?

Schwartz’s research should not be taken as gospel, and yet many lesbians do, fearing that the end of their sexual lives is right around the corner.

It’s outdated.

First – and this is not a flaw so much as a cold fact – Schwartz’s research was conducted in the 1980s, over thirty years ago, when lesbians were forced into the closet at higher rates than they are today. Not only was Schwartz’s sample size determinedly small, but one must also wonder how, with the invention of digital porn and the increase in resources for queer women, lesbian sexual habits have changed.

Lesbian sex is confusing.

Secondly, the definition of sex for women who love women is vague. Some women have been raised to believe that sex is purely insertive – penis into vagina – so all non-penetrative sex between women isn’t really truly “sex.” Other women believe that oral sex counts as sex, and some women believe that there must be clitoral play. This ambiguity makes it difficult to do any solid research.

Some women are quiet about their sex lives.

Finally, women are often raised to be ashamed of sex and sexuality, so all studies bear the risk of under-reporting when it comes to sex.

So what is the truth?

The truth is that it’s complicated. Some lesbian couples have sex more than others. The sexual frequency of your relationship doesn’t depend on statistics – it depends on you. It depends on the libidos of you and your partner.

And it depends on how much effort you put into your sex life. Don’t take your girlfriend for granted.

Learn how to think your way into a good sex life, make sure your habits aren’t killing your sex life and learn scientific hacks that could improve your sex life. If you’d like to know more about the original American Couples study, check out this article.

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J. Marie graduated from Duke University with a degree in International Relations and dreams of being a creative writer–dreams she’s now realizing as a musical theatre writer in NYC. She’s passionate about global black identities, black representation in media, and leather-bound notebooks. She also loves backpacking through a new country at a moment’s notice, and speaks Spanish, Swahili and Standard Arabic.

One Comment

  • B says:

    Damn rite it’s a myth. This has never ever happened to me. I never understood the concept and it’s always pissed me off. Damaging lies. Lbd happens sometimes.. to elderly straight married couples.

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