We live in a society that puts sex on a pedestal. Researchers and self-help books have touted that having more of it will make you a happier person. OK, yes, sex is a lot of fun, but just having more of it doesn't necessarily make you happier. Sexual desire and intimacy are a bit more complex than just telling people, "You should have more of it." Researchers Tamar Krishnamurti and George Loewenstein would agree.
They conducted a study that sought to find out if there was a causal connection between increasing the frequency of sex and happiness in couples. The study consisted of 128 individuals. All of them were in male-female marriages, and their ages ranged from 35 to 65 years old. The researchers separated the couples into one of two groups at random.
The first group was given instructions to double the frequency in which they had sex weekly. The other group received no instructions. Before starting, the participants had to complete three surveys, establishing a baseline for their overall health behaviors; level of happiness; and occurrence, type, and enjoyableness of sex.
After three months, the participants completed an exit survey so researchers could compare them to the baseline surveys. They found that among the participants ordered to increase their weekly dose of intercourse, happiness took a small dip. The participants reported that their desire had gone down, mostly because they were instructed to do it, rather than intimacy being organically created.
Loewenstein suggested in a press release:
"Perhaps couples changed the story they told themselves about why they were having sex, from an activity voluntarily engaged in to one that was part of a research study. If we ran the study again, and could afford to do it, we would try to encourage subjects into initiating more sex in ways that put them in a sexy frame of mind, perhaps with babysitting, hotel rooms, or Egyptian sheets, rather than directing them to do so.”
Loewenstein does believe that having more sex, in the right ways, can benefit a couple's happiness. It's not just about having more, but creating an environment of intimacy where it can be organically initiated and enjoyed.
Krishnamurti agrees, he explained:
"The desire to have sex decreases much more quickly than the enjoyment of sex once it's been initiated. Instead of focusing on increasing sexual frequency to the levels they experienced at the beginning of a relationship, couples may want to work on creating an environment that sparks their desire and makes the sex that they do have even more fun.”
For Bill Nye, the study of sex is fascinating for two reasons: because he's a scientist and because he's a guy. It's an interesting topic. In his Big Think interview, he discuses why it's so popular in nature and how it benefits us:
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