More sex makes for happier couples...or at least that’s often the assumption. But what if you only have sex with your partner every other week or less? Does that mean your relationship is doomed compared to couples who have sex every day?
The optimal frequency, it seems, is once a week. That’s according to a study published in the Society for Personality and Social Psychology that looked at surveys submitted by more than 30,000 people over a period of forty years. The data showed that while couples who had sex less than once a week indicated a decrease in happiness levels, having sex more than that didn’t necessarily translate to higher levels of happiness.
It may even be the case that increasing the frequency can sometimes make couples feel like they’re having too much sex. Another study done at study for Carnegie Mellon asked couples to double the frequency of sex each week and found that many reported decreased happiness, sexual interest and sexual enjoyment by the end of the study. One possible explanation is that feeling forced to have sex more often can make it feel less like a desired experience and more like a chore.
Naturally, this begs the question “so how much sex are couples really having?” There have been many different surveys over the years that have tried to answer this question. While earlier surveys focused specifically on married couples, some of the more recent ones have looked at committed couples in general. Here’s are some of the more interesting findings:
- A 2013 online survey showed that 40 percent of married respondents reported having sex three to four times per week. However, answers were given anonymously online so those numbers might be overinflated.
- Older Americans or those over the age of 45 are still having sex once a week at roughly the same rate (36 percent), according to an AARP survey conducted in 2009. However, unmarried respondents who were either dating or engaged were much more active sexually, with 48 percent indicating sex at least once a week.
- The newness of the relationship is one major factor in how often couples engage in sex. A survey from 2004 found that, of those married less than three years, 71 percent reported having sex several times per week. Only 32 percent of those married more than ten years reported the same frequency.
- Despite the changes in how people view relationships, the frequency of sex has remained relatively stable over the past few decades. A 1994 survey found that while 80 percent of married couples indicated they had sex at least several times per month, only 32 percent indicated a frequency of several times per week.
The good news is that it’s ultimately up to each couple to decide what works best for them. Whether you have sex once a month, once a week or every day, what matters is that both partners are satisfied. It’s when one partner feels unsatisfied or unfulfilled due to differences in expectations that problems can creep in. Communicating your needs clearly and consistently is essential to any successful relationship.
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author ofIdiot's Guide to Adult ADHD,Idiot's Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy,Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love andEssential Guide to Asperger's Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter@eileenmbaileyand on Facebook ateileenmbailey.