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Every night? Once a month? Or somewhere in the middle? Science has its say…
Some people are fine with the amount of sex they get and some think they should be getting a whole lot more. A few men even think their partners demand too much sex and secretly wish they’d take up knitting or something.
On the whole, most men probably think they could handle a bit more sex than they’re getting, though every man, and every relationship, is different.
But science has something to say about it too. According to the latest research, most of us are happy if we think we’re having more sex than the neighbours, however much we actually have.
Read on to discover more.
More than next door
According to the new study, having more sex than your neighbours can make you happy. Professor Tim Wadsworth, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Colorado, analysed data from over 15,000 people and found that respondents who had sex at least two to three times a month were 33 percent more likely to report a higher level of happiness than those who’d had no sex during the previous 12 months.
Other findings were similarly obvious. Professor Wadsworth found that the more sex people had, the happier they tended to be, even when factors like income, marital status, health and age had been taken into account.
But the more surprising finding was this. Even people who had reasonable amounts of sex reported lower levels of happiness if they thought they were having less sex than their peers.
Conversely, people who thought they were having more sex than their peers reported higher levels of happiness, even if – in the great scheme of things – they weren’t having that much sex.
“There’s an overall increase in the sense of wellbeing that comes with having sex more frequently, but there’s also this relative aspect to it,” said Professor Wadsworth. “Having more sex makes us happy, but thinking that we are having more sex than other people makes us even happier.”
Once a week
But how do you find out how much sex other people are having? Through social networks, says Professor Wadsworth, both on- and off-line. Then there are frequent media polls and even the gossip down the pub. Through these means we build up an idea of how much sex someone in our situation might be expected to have. If we beat the average, we’re happy.
But for the good of your own relationship, how much sex should men be having (assuming your personal answer is not just “more than them next door”)? Experts put the usual proviso on this information: every relationship is different, they say, and the amount of sex you need is the amount that makes both partners happy.
But one or two have put their heads above the parapet and tried to quantify just how much sex most of us should expect, if we’re in a sexual relationship.
Sex and relationship expert Dr Gail Saltz, for instance, has said this about sexual frequency: “If your sex drives are out of balance, your aim is to meet in the middle, having sex a bit more than one partner likes but probably a bit less than the other likes.”
In other words, both partners should compromise to get to a level of sexual frequency that suits their relationship.
Sex councillor Ian Kerner is even more specific: “While there may be no one right answer to the question of how often couples should have sex, lately I’ve been less equivocal and (started) advising couples to try to do it at least once a week. That’s because I believe that sex ruts are becoming epidemic.”
Pencilling in sex at least once a week means sex becomes a habit, something you fit in however busy or stressed you are. Once a week means you’ll get all the health and wellbeing benefits, too. But remember, Kerner says “at least” once a week. So the more you have the better.
How much sex do people have?
Most experts agree that the amount of sex you have will depend on you and your relationship, and that the ideal frequency is tricky to pin down.
But they do know how much sex most of us are having, on average.
Research suggests that for married couples under 30 years of age the frequency (on average) is about twice a week. For married couples between the ages of 50 and 59, the frequency is about once a week. In the intervening years the frequency is somewhere between the two.
Those figures don’t tell us if everybody is happy with that amount of sex, and of course it only covers married couples. People also tend to have more sex in the early stages of a relationship and less later on.
But the average does suggest that a natural sexual frequency is something like once or twice a week in a committed, long term relationship.
Many couples will be happy with less, and others will be at it every night, but if you’re up with the average at least you can say this: your neighbours are unlikely to be having much more sex than you, and may be having less. So you can stop stressing about what’s happening next door and start enjoying what’s happening in your own bedroom.