More Sex Doesn’t Equal More Happiness

More Sex Doesn't Equal More HappinessSex makes people happy. And why not? It’s fun. It’s intimate. It’s not terribly time-consuming or expensive. It’s something you share with someone else.

You may conclude, therefore, that if you like sex then the more sex you have, the happier you’ll be.

Sex makes people happy. And why not? It’s fun. It’s intimate.

Except that’s not how it works.

No more than you’d be happier eating a steak at every meal just because you like steak, having more sex isn’t nearly as important as having quality sex.

Per the New York Times:

“For this study, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and elsewhere recruited 64 adult couples, all married and heterosexual, and asked the volunteers how often they had sex, how enjoyable it was and how happy they were in general, based on standard questionnaires that measure mood and energy. Half the couples, picked randomly, were assigned to go about their lives as usual; the rest were told to double the frequency of sexual relations. If they had sex once a month (the minimum rate for inclusion in the study), make it twice; couples who had sex three times a week (the maximum rate for participants) were to go to six.”

Turns out that this did not make them happier.

“In fact, their well-­being declined, especially in measures of energy and enthusiasm, as did the quality of the sex. Both men and women reported that the additional intercourse wasn’t much fun.”

Good sex is about mutual enjoyment, not merely frequency.

The researchers were surprised, but I wasn’t. The only time in my life when I didn’t enjoy sex was when I was being told (by biology) that I had to do it to conceive children. “C’mon, Evan, we only have two fertile days this month as tracked by my ovulation kit, so get it up and let’s make this thing happen!”  Yeah, that’s not exactly the dirty talk that gets me going.

As a proud once-a-week guy (which, believe it or not, is evidently more than most of my married friends with toddlers), I can vouch for the idea that good sex is about mutual enjoyment, not merely frequency. Is it fun when I’m feeling extra randy and we go twice a week? Sure. But I wouldn’t want to be coerced into doing so.

Your thoughts, below, are always appreciated.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Tomas

    I agree with your article. Though I am a male and have all the testosterone-fueled desires that come with it, quality always beats quantity to me.

    I would rather have sex once a year with someone I love dearly as a way of building an intimate connection, than having sex several times a week just because “it’s fun.”

    I don’t have sex for fun, I have sex because the other person means something to me.

    So, I think people should definitely place quality (not only quality sex, but quality sex with a quality person) higher on their list. Dismiss everything you think you know about hookup culture and push away all this talk of doing it just because.

    I think people would be far better off.

    So, men and women, choose someone who is right for you, and make sure they are right for you with proper dating and when you are sufficiently ready, reward EACH OTHER with great, intimate relations that leave you both feeling fulfilled and glad for the experience.

    I’m not spiritual or religious and I don’t really believe in waiting until marriage, but I really do feel that sex is something to be used to express a real love with a special person who makes your world right as rain.

    1. 1.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Richard, Cleveland, Lee, Gordon, Tomas. Why do you keep changing your name on here?

      1. 1.1.1
        Karmic Equation

        Multiple personality disorder?

        Gender identity disorder?

        Tomas’ writing style seems feminine to me.

        1. Tomas

          I wouldn’t even know what a feminine writing style looks like.

          Do you say I sound feminine because I said I prefer sex to mean something even if it means having it less frequently? Were you expecting me to say “more sex? Yes please!”?

          I know guys who have the opposite attitude and want to screw like there’s no tomorrow. They tend to leave broken hearts, STIs and unwanted pregnancies in their wake, and then act all surprised as to how it could possibly happen to them.

          I want none of that, so I tell women I want to know them before sleeping with them.

          Believe me, if there were no consequences, I’d probably try to build a harem, but I live in the real world where I want to find someone who truly gives a shit about me before I whip out my penis.

          And I like to recommend others do the same so they can avoid getting “shafted,” as it were.

        2. Morgan Hill

          Tomas, or Richard or whatever, sounds exactly like the kind of men in Evan’s last post “My Insecure Boyfriend Is Trying to Scare Me Off of All Men Besides Him”.  He wants women to know that men will tend to leave broken hearts, STIs and unwanted pregnancies in their wake if they reject nice guys like him.

          Btw, the only scenario in which I can think of being “a male and have all the testosterone-fueled desires that come with it” and yet rather have sex once a year as Tomas does is it takes a year for the guy to get a woman to sleep with him and it inevitably turns out to be a one-shot wonder.

        3. jean

          Wow, that’s not nice at all.

      2. 1.1.2
        Tomas

        I prefer to disassociate myself from anything I’ve written about the PUA community on here and elsewhere for the sake of anonymity and my real life relationships since people I know read this blog. I like to use different names on different posts so that my newer posts are not associated with older ones.

        I used to be a part of the PUA community and now actively try to dissuade people from getting involved in it and all its nonsense and some of my posts contain personal details.

        I think the contents of my post is far more important than the online handles I choose to use.

        1. Karmic Equation

          This is much more masculine sounding.

          I feel that changing handles is deceptive.

          Be who you are. Accept who you were.

      3. 1.1.3
        Morgan Hill

        Richard wants us to know there are many other nice guys and upstanding men such as Cleveland, Lee, Gordan, Tomas, etc. who share his point of view.

        1. Tomas

          Way to misrepresent and miss the point I made.

          I never said I was a nice guy. I probably offend people more than I placate them. Also, men in general don’t tend to do these things, but men who go around trying to participate in hookup culture by sleeping with women without knowing them just might spread all sorts of STIs around.

          And, finally, I said I’d rather have sex once a year WITH SOMEONE I LOVE DEARLY, than a lot of sex with someone I had little connection with, no matter how attractive they might be. Just because I have desires doesn’t mean I act upon all of them for the hell of it. I don’t take sexual activity lightly.

          I have therefore never had an STI, never gotten anyone pregnant, and I have never given a woman a false impression of our relationship status after sleeping with her, thereby not breaking her heart and not making her jaded.

          I know several women however who are now pissed off single mothers because they didn’t wait to find out if the guy would stick around before sleeping with him.

          I’ve even heard of some women being so angry at the men who left them that they have a hard time loving the children they had.

          I prefer women avoid this if it’s not what they want.

          Also, as for the handles, there are other posters here who use the name Richard or Lee, or whatever, so sometimes a different handle helps separate me from them in that particular post. I could use a weird handle with numbers or a strange word or something, but this was the choice I made.

          Do you not agree with what I’ve said about how women should conduct themselves if they wish to avoid users and abusers, or would you like to go on insulting me and not addressing my actual comment?

      4. 1.1.4
        jean

        Evan,

        Do you like calling people out?

  2. 2
    Joe

    I dunno…I think that couples get into a habit of having sex X times a week, and it becomes comfortable for them.  All of a sudden you tell them they have to have sex 2X times per week, and then becomes a chore.

    1. 2.1
      Walt

      YES. THIS.

       

       

  3. 3
    Josie

    This is refreshing.  A few years ago, I got out of a long term relationship with a man who had given me the gift that keeps on giving – Herpes Simplex Virus 2.

    I have dated since then and my sex life has been limited, mostly because I no longer will engage in the casual hook up culture because doing so would require disclosure of my situation ( based on my personal morality which I know is not always shared by others, who would gladly fail to disclosure).   Case in point, I met a man who I began fooling around with while on vacation.  If I was less honest, I could have withheld that information.  I told him about my herpes, and he then told me he carries HPV …. Would he have even told me had I not told him about the herpes? I did not think so.  This is a cautionary tale of what you can encounter in a fling situation.

    I’m also in my late thirties with a lot of good stuff in my life otherwise.  Sex would be great but it’s not worth all the trouble and the herpes disclosure of it does not involve a fulfilling relationship.  When I was more seriously dating two men, I disclosed the H Bomb and they were both great.  If I meet the right one I have no doubt he will accept this as a minor skin condition … Until then I do not need the drama or stress.

  4. 4
    In Not Of

    A study was needed for this?

    1. 4.1
      Karmic Equation

      LMAO!

  5. 5
    SAL9000

    Could it be that being told to do it (more) can take the joy out of it?

     

    1. 5.1
      Rebecca

      I’m not convinced this study tells us anything about whether people would be happy with more sex.  I think it told us that people are NOT more happy when they get more sex by being told to have it.  I’m in a long distance relationship and I’m pretty sure I’d be more content if I had sex more often.  But not if I were trying to have sex to fulfill some researcher’s quota.  Just if I had more opportunities for it to come up naturally between my boyfriend and me.

  6. 6
    Morris

    Seems like a pretty flawed study. I know many married men and quite a few women that would love to increase the number of times they have sex. But DOUBLING it seems a bit extreme.(Especially if you already have a very active sex life.) And as some commented, it seems more like a chore.

  7. 7
    Kandi

    I totally agree that having more sex does not mean happier.  I was married 30 years before my husband passed away and had a fairly active sex life until the last 5 years of his  due to his illness.  He still had a very high sex drive even when he complained of hurting from his back and leg problems.   I was actually happier not having sex as often but he was not which could of been due to several things.  Hard to say really.  After his passing I got involved with a man and our sex life was good but I wanted it more than he did and if we wasn’t being intimate a couple times a week I felt deprived and was not as happy because I would feel like he didn’t want me.   After a year of being together we broke up.  I am now in a new relationship of only 2 months and when we are alone together we have sex 2 or 3 times a day….we usually spend at least 3 days a week together and one of those days he spends the night with me.  In the beginning I thought wow this is great and was very happy.   Now though I have gotten to where I don’t want to see him as often because we always have sex every single time we are together.  I love him very much and don’t get me wrong I am happy but I think I would be happier if instead of having sex every time we are together we would be able to just sit  and watch a movie with us cuddled up in the bed and not have sex.  Now it seems like our relationship is solely based on having sex and I am not sure how I feel about that.

    1. 7.1
      Lois

      Tell him that .

    2. 7.2
      Lois

      Ooh also comment 9 is a point to consider too Kandi

      x

  8. 8
    chommies

    i actually share some view with the recent tomas lols.i am a kinda of person that does not allow the opposite sex to to touch.if in anyway i dont love him.someone i dont love irritates me to call.i mean when they paradventure visit my house.my sheets,the toilet need to be scrubbed even if it was just sctubbed for the fact it was used by a so to say boyfriend i dont like.i even hate the fact dat wen i exhibit all this attitude bevause its not anytin or reactions that are hidden.u see it dat i dislike u.dont come close to me.just get out.u cant make love wyt me cos i dont love u.u see dem hanging around for yrs.sex is a quality affair u share wyt quality pple.tank u

    1. 8.1
      Morgan Hill

      You and Tomas or Richard are made for each other.  Perfect match.

  9. 9
    Me, Myself & I

    As a woman, I have always hated the articles that would make verbose statements that having sex creates intimacy or begets more sex, or that just the act of it will arouse you into enjoying it.  So far from the truth – ORGASMS during sex do those things.  Orgasms release the hormones that want you to have it more, orgasms release the chemicals that say “I really love this guy” Not the act of sex.  I have coined the phrase to many male friends that most of the time sex is just “jostling” – sometimes it keeps me up later than if I could just go to bed and fall asleep – because I feel more like I just ran a race with my heart pumping than had a release.  How would a man feel if they had sex without orgasm 2 or 3 days a week for YEARS (and sometimes years and years and years)  Probably not want to make the effort as much – yes?  Yup, and then other things that are more important (and have payoff) would climb up the ladder of fulfillment.  Meet women.  Not all – but most that are in long standing relationships.

    Sex doesn’t not always equals orgasms.  But I assure men that if they knew their women were satisfied they’d have closer relationships, more intimacy and more sex.  In my 42 years and 20+ partners I’ve never been asked the cliche : “Was it good for you?”  And men need guts to ask it. (and I know there is a lot of women that need to take responsibility to their sexuality too, I’m just generalizing)

    1. 9.1
      Crystal

      Me, Myself and I, you said:

      “In my 42 years and 20+ partners I’ve never been asked the cliche : ‘Was it good for you?’”

      I’m 53, was married for 22 years and had boyfriends before I was married and two after. I can’t recall the conversations I had after sex when I was in my 20’s and before I got married at 30. But I do know that, mostly, I enjoyed sex during those years. Also, throughout my marriage and with the two post-marriage boyfriends I’ve had, it was routine for them to say something along the lines of “Did you like it?”

      I also have no problem having an orgasm but I never solely rely on men to have one. When I was married and my husband didn’t want to have sex, I masturbated. Before and after my marriage, I did the same and still do, regularly.

      At a very young age, I learned what I liked sexually and how to provide it–by myself. So, when I am making love, I know how to verbally or non-verbally let a man know what will please me and bring me to orgasm because I have lots of practice bringing myself to orgasm.

      In addition, even without my partner asking me, if something he does feels good, I tell him, verbally or non-verbally (with moans and body movement), so he’ll keep doing it.

      I say all this to say that I think the crux of your letter is your ending parenthetical: Absolutely, women need to take responsibility for their sexuality. It’s OUR sexuality after all. If we don’t take responsibility for seeing that we enjoy sex, we can’t expect a man to pick up that slack for us.

      Now, I understand that for a host of reasons, some women aren’t as comfortable with their bodies as others. In those cases, it seems to me education is in order, self-help books on female sexuality, sex counseling or other mental health counseling to deal with unresolved issues that may be hampering your ability to enjoy sex and even a visit to an MD to see if a hormonal imbalance is the problem.

      Bottom line, though, you still have a chance at 42 to experience an orgasm, hopefully, an unlimited number. But you probably are going to have to start by accepting total responsibility for doing so and take the matter into your own hands–literally and figuratively.

      Crystal is not my real name, btw. I’d rather stay anonymous.

      1. 9.1.1
        Crystal

        P.S. Regarding my letter, I’ll also add that sex is two-way, obviously. During it, not only do I try to make sure I’m having a good time, I try to make sure my partner is as well. I ask him if he’s enjoying himself. I ask him if what I’m doing feels good. I ask  him if he’d like me to do something specific.

        Sometimes a man will answer these questions and provide instructions, which are helpful because I really do want him to have fun and instructions take the guess work out of it. A lot of times, men have responded by saying I don’t have to worry about them they just want me to enjoy myself. Usually, however, I don’t just lay back, relieved that I don’t have to put in any more effort. I still try to ensure they are satisfied, which makes me feel good in turn.

        I think the men I’ve been with (including my husband when we were having sex) have appreciated knowing that I at least care how they feel. I think this made them even more willing to please me.

        You get what you give; I’ve found this to be true in everything, including sex.

    2. 9.2
      DeeGee

      Me, Myself & I said: “So far from the truth – ORGASMS during sex do those things.”

      And everyone who teaches and studies and enjoys tantric sex would disagree with you.

      Once I started studying tantric (she didn’t study it, she was the happy receiver of it), the one person I have shared it with so far in my life (we are no longer together), both of us said emphatically that it was by far the best sex we had ever had to that time.

  10. 10
    Noemi

    It seems logical that having more sex would not make people happier in their relationships. Rather, sex is a reflection of how happy two people are in a relationship.

  11. 11
    AllHeart81

    I wonder how masturbation factors into this equation. Does the quantity of sex not make people happier because people are happy to just masturbate sometimes instead? Are people using masturbation more often today to supplement their own desires more often? If pornography wasn’t so wildly available, would men and women still feel that quality of sex mattered over quantity?

    I would be interested in seeing how relationships faired when couples took less pressure off how many sexual sessions they were having and focused more on sexual playfulness through-out the day. Such as kissing in the middle of the day without forcing it to lead to sex, touching each other sexually and non-sexually without forcing it to lead to sex, flirting with your partner like you haven’t been together forever and doing cute lil romantic things. I suspect this would have a bigger impact on the relationship and possibly lead to more satisfying sex more often.

  12. 12
    Martin Redford

    I think that the wrong question is being asked here. More sex can improve a relationship when there is a foundation for it. Sex is link the pinnacle of a physical and emotional attraction between two people.

    If sex is happening out of routine it is obvious that it will not bring more happiness. If, on the other hand, it is happening out of the desire to exemplify deep feelings of affection, then indeed it will obviously bring more happiness.

  13. 13
    Michelle

    Being a very sexually-driven person I was surprised that when my new boyfriend was a little “gun shy” at the start of my relationship I actually experienced more satisfying sex, because it consisted of so much more cuddling, kissing and foreplay than with my previous partners. He provided me with oral sex so I never lacked for orgasms and his ED was far less of a “problem” that I anticipated (as it was clear it was a mental thing and he just needed some time). He is more comfortable with intercourse now but navigating how to have satisfying sexual experiences was brilliant for our communication and we continue to have amazing cuddling and kissing sessions without intercourse as the ultimate goal, it’s amazing.

  14. 14
    jean

    Let us first explain who a lot of sex or more sex is good for. I have talked with and still hear quite a few females say they dread sex, but do it with their husbands other boyfriends because it is what he wants.

    Everyone does not want more sex. But done people do want more sex. When I was a teenager and I was told to hold up on engaging in sex, that is when it was wanted. When I went  thru a couple of dating relationships as an adult, the last thing on my mind, was sex. I did not want to and tried to avoid it .  Now that i am with my real partner, I now enjoy it.

    So, we need to be careful that we not repeat cool, trendy, catchy phrases. that we often hear said:

    1)Sex  is good for everyone ( myth)

    2)Sex is enjoyable (myth)

    3)Sex us good for men and women (myth )

    If your partner is only thrusting and quick to ejaculate, that is not enjoyable, nor good for the other person who needed foreplay and touching, and other actions.  Both genders cannot thrust and ejaculate. It takes other actions for them to orgasm. This leaves that partner hating to get in bed with  the thrusting fanatic. Which is why everyone does  not enjoy or like sex. Be truthful .

     

  15. 15
    Jenny

    Even lots of really good daily sex does not equal a good relationship! I thought thought this would be true, but turns out after having daily enjoyable sex with my boyfriend of 4 months, I ended up breaking off the relationship because of bad boy choices to treat me like a sugar mama. He was 5 years younger than me. Yeah, the chemistry was there, but outside of that, he was not a good boyfriend!

  16. 16
    Robyn

    So, Evan, how do you resolve the situation when one partner (me) wants sex more frequently than the other (him). I absolutely, 100% agree that quality trumps quantity every time, but I have a very high desire threshold and I’m very attracted to my partner. My ideal would be at least 5-6 times a week, his is closer to 1-2, if that. Is this type of discrepancy big enough to make us not compatible long term? We are both in our early 50’s.

    1. 16.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      That’s up to you, Robyn.

      I’d simply point out that his libido is more mainstream than yours, so you will likely have a hard time finding a man who is a great guy who also wants that much sex in his 50’s.

  17. 17
    Jo

    My partner and I have been together for nearly 6 years. About 12 months ago we broke up for a few months then reconciled. Sex was full on for a couple of months then he went onto antidepressants and now we haven’t had sex in 4 months.  He blames the medication but I know he still masturbates and gets aroused. It’s like he’s just not that interested in sex with me. We still hug and kiss (though not passionately) and he’s a nice guy but I can’t help wondering if there’s more to this.

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