By Sarah Foster Special to Published May 29, 2010 at 1:10 PM

Not so long ago I was asked what I thought was a "normal" amount of sex for a couple in the average week and what amount might begin to border on sex addiction. I'm not a couples therapist and I'm sure my ideas of "enough sex" differ from many people, but I do know that sex addiction, as much as it's joked about and used as a convenient excuse by ignorant celebrities, is a very serious disease and you'd likely have little trouble knowing if you were regularly sleeping with someone that is afflicted by it.


A "normal" amount of sex in a week for a couple is obviously difficult to pinpoint. As long as we're talking a healthy coexistent, respectful relationship, I would say any amount, no matter how much or how little, (ok, I've definitely known people that I thought were having way, way too little), so long as both parties are happy about it, is normal. It's completely relative to the couple, their lifestyle, their sex drives, their health and their happiness. When you're in the early stages of a relationship you're still ‘honeymooning' and can barely keep your hands off each other, but ask a couple that's been married for a while, have two full time jobs, three kids and a Golden Retriever and you might find that sex takes a backseat to other priorities. Not because the couple wants to put it off, but because there aren't enough hours in the day. (Or, enough privacy in the house.)


Each individual has a different sex drive. If you and your significant other are at opposite ends of the libido spectrum, one person can feel overwhelmed and one can feel let down. Being comfortable enough with the person you're sleeping with to say, "Honey, this is my fourth UTI this month; can we do something else for a couple days?" shouldn't be too much to ask. Your focus doesn't have to shift away from sexual acts all together, but your body might need a break from the friction. Just be honest, otherwise you risk making the other person question why you suddenly aren't interested. There are plenty of fun things to do that don't involve penetration. Give ‘em a try.


As for questioning whether you're with someone with a sex addiction, you'll figure it out, but probably not right off the bat. Sex addicts don't exactly walk around with a sandwich board announcing their condition. Anyone that's ever suffered through a real, honest-to-God addiction, whether it be alcohol, drugs, shopping or gambling, knows that there was a fleeting moment when you may have had control over it, and then in the blink of an eye the tables are turned and suddenly you come to the horrifying realization (or in many cases, your family, friends and coworkers come to the realization) that your addiction is controlling you. And like so many mental disorders or debilitating diseases, denial is a large component.


Apparently sex addiction spreads like the swine flu amongst the celebrity community. Every moron that gets caught cheating plays it off as an addiction they couldn't control to somehow make themselves look like the victim. But do not be confused. Tiger Woods and Jesse James are not sex addicts; they are pricks! There is a huge difference. And for those that truly do suffer from sex addiction, I would think having celebrities throw this disease around like it's the common cold would be incredibly insulting.


According to Sex Addicts Anonymous, one (and possibly the most important) difference between someone that chooses to sleep around and someone with an addiction is, "Generally, a person with a sex addiction gains little satisfaction from the sexual activity." And there it is, an addiction is almost always associated with the ironic fact that the person with the addiction gains little to no satisfaction from their addiction. Hence, they cannot stop themselves despite the fact that they do not want to participate in the act.


A real sexual addiction interferes with a person's work and social life, disrupts relationships and can even lead to legal, physical and, not surprisingly, emotional issues and consequences. Sex addicts cannot control themselves, to the point that they will risk being arrested for lewd acts, they'll risk having unprotected sex with prostitutes and contracting diseases and passing those diseases on to their husbands, wives, girlfriends or boyfriends.


One of the questions on the Sex Addicts Anonymous website is ‘Do you need greater variety, increased frequency, or more extreme sexual activities to achieve the same level of excitement or relief?' Just like a drug addict, you're not likely to continue achieving the same high that you do initially and therefore you're always searching, taking bigger risks. Another question is, ‘Do your relationships become distorted with sexual preoccupation? Does each new relationship have the same destructive pattern which prompted you to leave the last one?' Ok, so most of us probably know someone whose name we could insert here, but how about this question. ‘Do you live a double life?' That's the level of severity we're talking about. Not the guy we know that's got so many notches in his bedpost the frame is threatening to collapse, but rather someone that is literally consumed by sexual thoughts, so much so that they need to create a double persona.


What's a "normal" amount of sex? It is whatever you and the person you're having sex with feel is normal. It's an incredibly important aspect of a consensual relationship, so by no means should you blow it off (so to speak) when you're not connecting in the bedroom, or the kitchen, or the shower, but if you're unhappy with the amount, whether it's too much or too little, open your mouth and say so. And if I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times, DO NOT ACCUSE! This will undoubtedly lead to very little sex whatsoever in your near future. Bring it up; ask what the other person thinks about it, forward them this link to get the ball rolling if that's what it takes, or open a bottle of wine, lower the lights, look to Sinatra for a little back up and unless you're romping with a complete idiot, he or she will know what's... um, up. You don't have to be subtle, but you do have to be a little understanding, if you're trying to get hot and heavy with someone that just worked a sixteen hour day. Don't get your panties in a bunch when they fall asleep during foreplay. That's life.

The same applies for too little sex. When you're in a relationship, you shouldn't feel like you're being rationed sex. But you don't have a right to demand it either. Your partner has needs and wants too and those are likely playing a huge role in why you aren't getting a piece. Make your desires known, find out what your partner needs and talk it out. If your needs are totally ignored after you've brought them up, you've got bigger problems than just getting off. You may need to think about getting out. You're supposed to be in this together so if you cannot discuss your sex life or you cannot find a reasonable common ground in which you both feel satisfied; I'd be willing to venture a guess that you're going to have trouble discussing other issues in your life as well and have more severe relationship and communication problems down the road.

So Milwaukee... how much sex are you having these days? Enough to be ‘normal?'

Sarah Foster Special to

No, the sex columnist's real name is not Sarah Foster. (Foster is the model/actress that played an ex-lover of Vincent Chase in the first season of "Entourage.") In reality, our sex columnist is a Wisconsin native with a degree in journalism and a knack for getting people to talk to her.

Sarah never considered herself an "above average" listener. Others, however, seem to think differently. Perhaps she has a sympathetic tone or expression that compels people to share their lives and secrets with her despite how little they know her. Everyone from the girl that does her hair to people in line at the grocery store routinely spill the details of their lives and relationships to Sarah, unprompted but typically not unwanted. It’s strange to her that people would do this, but she doesn’t mind. Sarah likes that she can give advice even if it is to complete strangers.

So why the pseudonym? Simple. People tell Sarah these things because for some reason they trust her. They believe she cares and therefore will keep their secrets in a locked vault the same way a best friend or therapist would. Sarah won't name names, but that vault is now unlocked.