And how we can stop perpetuating the myth surrounding our sex lives. 

By Real Simple
Updated September 21, 2015
Jupiterimages/Getty Images

Despite the significant decline in the number of American teenagers having sex—and the fact that it's actually quite common to go months (or even years) without having sex—we often consider it a tragedy when a friend goes through a "dry spell." Even sexually-active couples measure the quality of their relationships by the details of what goes on in the bedroom. Journalist Rachel Hills, who has openly written about the age at which she lost her virginity, has defined this as "the sex myth," or the idea that sex holds the key to who we really are.

On this week’s episode of “The Labor of Love,” host and editor Lori Leibovich talks to Hills, who recently wrote The Sex Myth: The Gap Between our Fantasies and Reality,about the sex-related data Hills finds most surprising—such as the fact that the average person has only one sexual partner per year—and the amount of sex women think they should be having per week. They discuss where the sex myth evolved from, how it gets perpetuated in modern-day society, and why the myth might be damaging to our relationships. But is it possible for our society to step away the concept? Below are Hills' suggestions for extricating sex from identity.

1. Demolish sexual hierarchy. Ridding ourselves of the idea that some ways of being sexual—such as having sex if you're married—are more moral than others.

2. Acknowledge that no one way of being sexual is better or more normal. Letting go of the belief that you're more interesting, more liberal, or more vibrant if you have sex with a greater number of partners, or if you're more adventurous in the bedroom.

3. Allow room for exploration. Understanding that our sexual desires and the way we choose to live our sex lives changes over time, according to what's going on with our bodies and what matters to us in that moment.

For Hills' thoughts on dating apps and the most surprising findings from her research, listen to the full episode below. Don't forget to subscribe and review on iTunes!