You hear it in magazines, on TV, all over the Internet and from people you know: Having sex more often will make you happier. But it may not be so simple.
Couples who have sex once a week may be happiest, a new study found. Having sex less frequently than that was tied to less happiness, but doing it on the daily didn't appear to increase happiness over those who only did it once a week.
The reason why more sex doesn't necessarily mean more happiness "is an open question that we are exploring," said lead study author Amy Muise, PhD, a social psychologist and postdoctoral fellow at the University of Toronto-Mississauga, in an interview with dailyRx News. "Once a week tends to be the average frequency among established couples, so it's possible that this is the average because more frequent sex is not associated with greater well-being."
Perhaps people are happy when they know the amount they have sex is normal, but there wasn't a reason to believe study participants knew that having sex once a week was the norm, Dr. Muise said.
"Once a week may also be the frequency that people feel is enough to maintain their intimate connection with their partner, and more frequent sex, although not bad for relationships, is not associated with greater well-being," Dr. Muise said.
If your sex life is above the average of one rendezvous per week, don't worry — you aren't likely to be less happy than those who have sex once a week. You're just not likely to be any happier than them, Dr. Muise said.
Single? Then this probably doesn't apply to you. Dr. Muise and colleagues found no link between sex frequency and well-being among single participants.
This study actually consisted of three studies. The first surveyed over 25,000 people on their happiness and sexual frequency, among other sociological concerns. It found the happiness tied to sex frequency leveled off after once a week.
The second study looked at something seemingly unrelated: money. This one was an online survey of 335 people that asked about income and sexual frequency. The results? Well, for the average person, sex might be more important than money.
Dr. Muise told dailyRx News that "... the difference in life satisfaction between couples who had sex less than once a month and those who had it once a week was bigger than the difference between couples who were making between $15,000 to $25,000 annually and those making between $50,000 and $75,000."
The third study looked at over 2,400 married couples over 14 years. The results were similar to those of the first study: More sex meant more life satisfaction, up to once per week.
Dr. Muise noted in a press release that her research shouldn't dictate couples' sex lives, but couples should discuss their happiness, both sexually and overall.
All three studies were published online Nov. 18 in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.
The Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and SSHRC Insight Grants funded this research. Dr. Muise and team disclosed no conflicts of interest.