What Google Tells Us About Our Sex Lives. A Lot.

It’s a joke that men brag about how much sex they have. Well, according to a recent New York Times piece by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, it seems that it’s not just men who are lying about their frequency. It’s everybody.

Heterosexual men 18 and over say that they average 63 sex acts per year, using a condom in 23 percent of them. This adds up to more than 1.6 billion heterosexual condom uses per year.

Heterosexual women say they average 55 sex acts per year, using a condom in 16 percent of them. This adds up to about 1.1 billion heterosexual condom uses per year.

Who is telling the truth, men or women?

Ready for Lasting Love?
Ready for Lasting Love?

Neither. According to Nielsen, fewer than 600 million condoms are sold every year.

Seems that it’s not just men who are lying about their sexual frequency. It’s everybody.

That’s a pretty big lie. But not as big as the lie that married people tell about their own sex lives. Get this:

“On average, married men under 65 tell surveys they have sex once a week. Only 1 percent say they have gone the past year without sex…In fact, “the data suggest that Americans manage to have sex about 30 times per year – or once every 12 days.”

I am always fascinated by people who lie, even in small ways. Back in my sophomore year of college, I thought I was the last guy to lose his virginity. In fact, I was the first one: my four closest friends all said they did it in high school, but were afraid to admit the truth. As much as I want to look good publicly, I don’t have that gene. It’s just much more comfortable for me to tell the truth and assume that people can deal with it. The longer I’m on this earth, the more I do this job, the more I realize that people can’t even separate themselves from their lies. They actually believe them. That’s why data from Google or OkCupid about how people contradict themselves is so endlessly fascinating.

Who cares more about penis size, men or women? You got it. Men search about penises 170X more than women do.

Who cares more about breast size? You got it. More than 7 million women in the U.S. do searches looking into breast implants.

“Dan Ariely, a psychologist at Duke, offers a reason for caution in interpreting this data. While most data sources underestimate sexual thoughts, he suspects that Google may overestimate them. As Professor Ariely put it, “Google is a reflection of what people don’t know and need extra information about.” If you want to know how to make omelets, you may just ask a relative. You are less likely to ask your relatives about penis enlargement.”


He may be right. But the author makes an excellent closing point when he suggests that the vast number of searches should be heartening, in that we all share common insecurities.

“Many of our deepest fears about how our sexual partners perceive us are unjustified. Alone, at their computers, with no incentive to lie, partners reveal themselves to be fairly nonsuperficial and forgiving. In fact, we are all so busy judging our own bodies that there is little energy left over to judge other people’s.”

Amen. And I’m a guy who has sex once a week (really!) and doesn’t care if you judge me.

So, what was the last sexual thing that YOU Googled? You’re anonymous, so your honesty is greatly appreciated.