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Debunking the Myth of the Sex-Starved Father

Dads can’t get laid. It’s a trope. It’s a meme. It’s Christina Applegate and Will Arnett in Up All Night sneaking off to a hotel just to sleep. It’s Rob Huebel telling Josh Duhamel in Life As We Know It that even gay dads have to kiss their sex lives goodbye. It’s comedian Rob Delaney calling sexual rainchecks “abusive.” Though there are certain scientific phenomena that lend the cliche credence–perhaps the same low testosterone that makes new fathers less likely to cheat drives them to dress in contraceptively bad outfits–it’s mostly just a stereotype. Dads mount nothing but shelves. Everyone gets it and many fathers internalize it even though there’s little reason to believe it’s true and an increasing number of reasons to believe it’s nonsense.

At least one new study suggests fathers may be getting more action than screenwriters let on. And world-famous sex educator Dr. Laura Berman told Fatherly that it’s possible that some new parents are having more sex than childless couples, specifically to avoid embodying a cliche that may have been based on nothing in the first place. It’s a phenomenon we’ll call the “Parent Advantage” that occurs when making a child sets off a virtuous sexual cycle.

According to Berman, parents are making sex a bigger priority in their relationships because they no longer think about physical intimacy in purely procreative or even recreational terms. “People are realizing that sex is about a lot more than getting your rocks off,” she says.“Many of them came from divorced families and are taking the commitment more seriously.”

Debby Herbenick, author of Sex Made Easy, agrees, adding that the very act of becoming a parent can make intimacy feel more natural. “Many parents feel more intimate and close, emotionally, as they experience the joys of being parents together and watching their baby grow,” she says.

“It’s not all bad,” she adds, because it still feels necessary to say that.

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