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 I would like to pose a question to the group: How important is sex?

I donít mean how important to a healthy relationship. Sex is a vital part of any relationship, and usually when a couple has a poor sex life, you can tell it after hanging out with them for about 20 minutes. The airís a little more thick, dense, thereís a certain level of tension, people keep accidentally crushing their wine glasses in their hand. Tip for spotters: When a woman walks across the room and punches her boyfriend in the face, their sex life is not working. (That, or it has reached a level you and I will never know.)

Iím speaking more specifically of the amount of sex we individually need. How important is it to us? Is it all relative?

Two people:

One is a female friend of mine. She lost her virginity when she was 15. She is pretty, smart, sociable, and is a renowned serial monogamist. No matter what, sheís always got a boyfriend Ė I donít think Iíve ever known her when she was single. Well, about six months ago, she had a long-term relationship end, and, in a first for her, there was no one waiting in the wings. Sheís hardly the type of girl to sleep around or just pick up guys at bars, so, suddenly, something that was a regular part of her life just ended. Sheís gone six months without sex. According to her, the longest she had gone without sex until this six-month hiatus was 32 days. Imagine that: Something that had just been a part of your life, just gone. Emotional attachments aside, when something youíve lived with on a reliable basis since you were 15 is taken away suddenly, itís a definitive change. (Of course, I know the guy she just dated pretty well, and, well, letís just say that I doubt sheís missing too much.)

The other is a guy friend. Whatever the opposite of a serial monogamist is, thatís what he is. He never dates. Ever. He went on a few dates with one girl and never even got her shirt off. Other than that, kaput. Six months without sex? Heh. Try six years. At this point, heís almost asexual. Itís not that he doesnít want to have sex, itís just that heís used to it by now. He doesnít even really think about it that much anymore, though when the 40 Days, 40 Nights movie came out, about the guy who forced himself to not have sex for Lent, he did bash his head against the wall repeatedly for a week-and-a-half. He doesnít even try to go after girls anymore. Whatís the point? Sex is something on late-night cable, a spectator sport far more than a participatory one. Some day heíll have sex again, Iím sure. But at this point, thereís no rush.

Which person would you rather be? Neither is having sex right now. Both are human beings, and both need it. But the woman is having a far more difficult time with it than the guy. Heís accepted his lot. To put this another way, paraphrasing Ö is it better to have had some play and lost it, than to have never had play at all?

My friend is getting married in a month. From all accounts, he seems to have a happy, moderately healthy sex life. Nothing to complain about. But, like all relationships, sometimes circumstances dictate performance. Occasionally, heíll go a week or two without having sex. No big deal when he was a single guy; essentially, his life was just a continuous string of a week or two without sex. But when that week or two takes place with a hot girl sleeping next to you, and you start to itch and squirm, suddenly a week seems a lot longer.

I spoke with him about this last week. Specifically, I spoke about a recent, um, dry spell I went through myself. He and I used to be the two most pathetic single losers Iíd ever met, constantly complaining how we couldnít get any girls; now weíre just in the top five. He looked at me like Iíd just wet my pants.

ďWill, youíre an idiot. No sex for two weeks? Shit, man, there was once a point a few years ago I was tempted to screw the dog.Ē

And heís right. My major neuroticism about sex is that, well, I canít quite figure out what any woman would possibly find sexy about me. (Well, other than the minor man boobs.) Do I think about this more when Iím in a relationship, or when Iím not? I figure Iím probably worse when in a relationship. Six months without sex, I can pretty much just convince myself that I just havenít found the right woman yet. But put a beautiful woman in my bed every night, if we go a week, Iím convinced sheís dreaming of the sandwich maker at the deli downstairs, the one with the mole the shape of Andy Richter on his cheek. She wishes she were in bed with him right now; I just know it.

And what is it we really get out of sex anyway? Is it strict orgasm? If so, my shower and I have the most functional relationship I know. Shit, my shower doesnít even mind if I bring in pictures of other girls. Or do we just need the closeness? Or, lo, could it be, do we have sex because weíre actually in love? How much less is it when weíre not? And, after six years without sex, does it even matter?

I think we have the best sex when weíre in love, because weíve got the other person figured out, and because itís a legitimate sharing process. This logic makes me believe once again that masturbation trumps sex, and I donít really believe that. Do I? Perhaps we stop this logic train.

Of course, ideally, someone is just single, without commitments, and still having sex on a regular basis, no ebbs and flows, just something new all the time. I donít think those people actually exist though. Maybe in the NBA.



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