The amount of sex couples have doesn’t necessarily translate to marital or personal bliss, and as a new study suggests, less-frequent sex might make couples happier.
The study, published in Social Psychology and Personality Science, debunks the long-cherished, pop-culture-reinforced notion that more sex equates to more happiness.
“For people in relationships, sexual frequency is no longer significantly associated with well-being at a frequency greater than once a week,” wrote the researchers, led by Amy Muise, of the University of Toronto, Mississauga.
Muise and her colleagues found through three separate surveys that most Americans consider five rounds of sexual activity a month to be sufficient, and that the relationship between happiness and sex had more of a curvilinear tinge to it, as opposed to a strictly linear composition. People who were having sex less than once a month were less happy than those having sex once a week, but the overall returns for happiness diminished as frequency increased.
One survey contained answers from 25,000 respondents compiled throughout 1989 to 2012. Nearly all the data remained static across gender, race, and ethnicity.
Not examined in-depth was how these findings would hold for people outside of relationships. “Looking at when and for whom having more frequent sex when single is beneficial is another area ripe for future research,” Muise told The Guardian.
Muise and her team aren’t the first scientists to dampen the expectation that lots of sex leads to a better life. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have done the same, publishing a similar study last July, in which two survey groups were split up and asked to alter their respective sex lives. The first group was asked to have more sex, while the second didn’t change their sexual routines.
The first group reported far less happiness than the second.