It turns out sex isn’t like water – the more the better.
Researchers have just announced that when it comes to sex and happiness, once a week is ideal.
Hands up who has been having too much sex (hands fly up) because you were under the misguided belief that when in a committed relationship (or not) it was best to aim for three or more each week?
My husband and I have sex four to five times a week, sometimes more. Not good sex, just sex. I was pretty proud of that fact, and he wasn’t too upset over it either, however if I’m to understand this research correctly – and latch onto it as an excuse to advocate for us to start having less sex – then that means we aren’t happy either.
Too much sex is apparently just as unhelpful in a relationship as too little sex.
I tend to believe researchers. I'm one of those people who gives no thought to research issues such as sample size, location, extenuating circumstances and ridiculousness of study topics, and I just accept the conclusion presented to me. That's why I'm telling my husband today that from now on we are having less sex because, well, science.
This particular study was done by (tired women) researchers at the University of Toronto Mississauga and published in the journal of Psychological and Personality Science. They looked at data collected since 1972 from more than 25,000 people aged between 18 and 89, analysing relationship status, sexual frequency and happiness, drawing from data collected from the U.S. General Social Survey (GSS) and identified that for people in relationships, sexual frequency is important, but only up to a point.
It's a bit like a delicate balancing act. If a couple is having too little sex, one is happy and one not so much however if a couple ends up having too much sex then the previously happy one isn't so much and the other is annoyingly ecstatic.
More isn't always better when it comes to sex, particularly if the happiness of both parties is considered. As the Daily Beast highlights, "there was a significant linear relationship between sexual frequency and well-being for people having sex once a week or less and no association for people having sex more than once a week."
I seriously feel as though a light bulb has just gone off above my head.
I have been a long-time advocate of having sex as often as possible, quality be damned. My husband and I have been through some rough patches whereby I never wanted to have sex and he always wanted to have sex so we would fight about sex instead of having sex and then sex became this huge issue in our relationship. So in order to end it as a major stress-point in our relationship I decided to come to the party, so to speak, and it's been smooth sailing ever since.
Except sometimes I feel a bit tired and used and wanting of a good night's sleep. Gosh, I feel really terrible saying that, but I really do.
If we are having less sex maybe it will be better sex? In the movie This is 40, Debbie is unhappy that Pete is taking Viagra in order to improve their sex life. Article continues after this video.
We do have more balance these days. Every now and then I text him that I'm looking forward to catching up on a good night's sleep and he knows that's code for ,"Do not wake me up under any circumstances". It works well.
Not so sure how he'll respond when I send him a link to this journal article but as those who've been married for 12-plus years know, that is his problem to solve. I'm no longer responsible for the happiness status in our relationship, having given up on trying to achieve that several years ago, and these days tend to focus on my own happiness, the "me" instead of the "we".
The bottom line is that when it comes to couples having sex more than once a week, we can safely reduce that and not cause less happiness in our relationships, as long as we have sex at least once a week.
Once a week is key.
I'm actually a bit excited at the idea of having less sex, not just because I'm pretty tired during the week, but because by having sex less I'll invest more in making sure it is special. I'm thinking music, candles and the kids having regular sleepovers at my sister's house. I'm thinking beautiful nightwear, massage oils and clean sheets. I wonder how many times I'll set all that up before just deciding not to bother?
Another potential avenue for future research: Does quality matter during that one sexual encounter each week? I'll email them now.
Sex is important in relationships, of that there's no doubt, and as my husband is constantly saying, it's about the intimacy, not the act of sex itself. I agree. Sleep, I mean sex, is crucial to long-term happiness and I'm happy to clock it up once a week to achieve peak happiness for both parties.