Because quantity doesn’t always equal quality…
Sex is pretty great, right? So great that people think they want to have it as often as possible, seeking out advice on how to have better sex, twice-daily sex, or sex every day for a year.
But what we think we want and what we really want can be very different.
A surprising recent study reveals that when it comes to sex, more isn’t always better. In fact, when married couples doubled the amount of sex they were having, they reported feeling unhappier.
“They were less happy with the sex and they were less happy overall. They wanted [sex] less and liked it less. That seemed to explain most of the change in their overall mood,” says George Loewenstein, Herbert A. Simon Professor of Economics and Psychology at Carnegie Mellon University, and an author of the study.
These findings are contrary to what's known about sex. Most research indicates that people who have more sex report being happier. But the relationship has never been clear. Did having more sex make people feel happier? Or did happier people have more sex?
Loewenstein hoped to understand the relationship between joy and sex. He recruited 64 straight heterosexual married couples between the ages of 35 to 65, specifically focusing on couples who had regular sex at least once a month and no more than three times a week. (Loewenstein did not include couples who already had sex four to seven times a week simply because he thought it would be tough for them to double their amount.)
Over a three-month period, half of the couples did not change their sex habits, and while the other half doubled the amount of sex they had.
Both before and after the study, each person in the couple independently answered questions about personality traits, mood, demographics, libido, relationship quality, and interest in sex. Then, every morning during the study, participants completed a 10-minute survey about their mood, personality, and frequency of sex.
People in the group having more sex reported feeling less happy overall, less happy with their sex lives, and less desirous of sex. And, the couples felt out of synch.