The Joy of (Just the Right Amount of) Sex
• by Gretchen Reynolds
• June 25, 2015
Researchers long ago established a link between having sex and feeling pleased with yourself and the world. In a representative recent study of 1,000 women, for example, the participants ranked sex as No.1 among the activities that made them the happiest. Data from 16,000 American adults on incomes, sexual activity and happiness led economists to conclude in a much-discussed 2004 study that increasing the frequency of intercourse from once a month to once a week increased happiness to the same extent as having an additional $50,000 in the bank.
But while these and similar studies, which relied on surveys, revealed an association between sex and happiness, they did not show that more sex actually causes greater happiness. Perhaps happier people just happen to have more sex. To establish causation, scientists needed to get couples to have sex more often and then see if that made them happier.
It turns out that it doesn’t. To state the obvious, people get irritated if they have to have more sex than they want. I don’t write much about sex on this blog, and am wondering why, because I like writing about sex. A kind of internet prudishness? Or peer pressure? Because right now, in my cohort, sex is out.
I did not expect this to happen. Was it divorce, children, illness, or menopause that caused my circle of friends and acquaintances to stop talking positively about sex?
The statement, “I’ve just had great sex” used to be high status. Now, it is greeted with disbelief or even disinterest.
Have we just succumbed to the idea that older women aren’t sexy in and of themselves? Has self-loathing caught up with life force? Do we really believe that our ability to be objectified as desirable is the end all and be all? By sex I don’t even means the act(s) so much as the identity. I recently read a good book on feminist sex ed that didn’t go beyond the child bearing years, to my extreme disappointment. Do sexual questions get answered once and for all? Do folks no longer come out, go back in, fall into love and lust, and wonder what this means—existentially—about being a human being?
Or are people just bored in their relationships, or bored with themselves?
I hope not.
Sex, at least in my experience, is most often free, pleasurable, low carb, and can be done lying down. Ditto for reading a library book, but I stand by my point.