Monday, June 6, 2016

Will More Sex Make You Happier?

You would think, if you aren’t very used to thinking, that couples who have more sex are happier. Serious research studies have demonstrated this serious point, so naturally we are inclined to believe it, unthinkingly. Besides, Freud taught us that civilization was designed to suppress our unruly and dangerous sex drives, thus to make us miserable.

Freud’s thinking might not have made quite as many people miserable, but it was not for lack of trying.

Anyway, other serious academic researchers from a very serious institution, Carnegie-Mellon University tested the more sex hypothesis. Will you really be happier if you have more sex?

So they took a group of volunteers and told them to double their quota of sex. If they had sex three times a week they were to have sex six times a week. If they had sex once a month they were to have sex twice a month. They kept track of both quantity and quality of sexual experiences and tried to factor in the possibility that having sex on command has never been known to be erotically enticing.

Also, you have probably discovered that there is more to sex than copulation. Apparently, this consideration was not factored into the study.

You will note, as I note, that there is a significant difference between going from once a month to twice a month and going from a dozen times a month to two dozen times a month. I hope I do not have to explain it to you.

Of course, we should want to know about age differences, about the number of children at home, the ages of said children, the job situations of one or both members of each couple. And, what about the possibility that one or both members of the couple is having sex outside of their marriage? And what about porn usage?

I now give you their conclusions, as reported in The Independent:

In general, the researchers found that the couples who doubled the amount of sex didn't enjoy the sex as much and were less happy overall. Although the team can only speculate as to why this was, they did answer their question: More sex does not make us happier.

Moreover, the researchers stipulate that by being forced to have more sex, the selected couples actually developed, over time, less motivation to have sex. That, in turn, is what might have led to an overall downturn in the quality of their sex as well as their overall mood.

What you want to take away from this, Leowenstein told The Times, is that when it comes to sex, concentrate on quality and not quantity if you want to be happy.

At the least, this study suggests that having more sex is not the key to happiness. But, since it does not really differentiate between those who go from three days a week to six and those who go from once a month to twice… I am not sure that we want to draw too many extravagant conclusions. We will limit ourselves to  saying that we should take the earlier studies, the ones that equated more sex with more happiness, with some doubt.


Ares Olympus said...

A very silly study. Assuming the couples were already happy with their frequency of sex, then adding more could easily make it feel like a chore, just one more thing to add to your daily list of things to get done.

You could ask a similar question "Will more exercise make you happier?" And that's an easier question since you don't have the problem of two people trying to adapt to each other's ideal frequency, intensity, and duration of an activity.

What I've learned on exercise, mainly running, is that I don't definitely miss exercise when I don't get it, but maybe my body does. Like in the winter when I've noticed I didn't feel very well, and I've realized I've not got any real exercise for a number of days in a row, and after I do exercise I feel better even when I didn't expect to.

And it does sometimes seem as a burden when I'm doing it, but I'll almost always feel better when I'm done.

And when I'm in a good routine, running 20-30 miles/week is great, but if you asked me to double that, perhaps to train for a marathon, I'm old enough my body just doesn't care for it, and I'll actually get little injuries that demand extra rest days anyway.

On the other hand I read one book that said the risk of injury is very low at 12-20 miles/week, so perhaps when I have no competitive ambitions, that seems like a good minimum to feel good, and not have sore muscles which happens when your muscles are not used to an activity.

And that's probably true on sex as well, if we only consider sex is a physical act that needs toned muscles to be most enjoyable.

And finally for aerobic exercise, probably 15 minutes is the absolute minimum workout that makes sense, so probably a good sex study should look at not just frequency but duration (including warmup time), and finally also relationship qualities excluding the physical benefits.

David Foster said...

Turning your thermostat further down (in summer) or further up (in winter) is unlikely to make you more satisfied with your home temperature...because you've already set it where you want it....*unless* you can't afford to cost of more heat or more air conditioning.

The study would be more meaningful if they separated out people who felt they weren't having enough sex and then look at how the 'more' factor influenced *their* satisfaction. For those who were already having what they felt to be the right amount, the increment would predictably feel like a chore.