Having more sex will not lead to increased happiness…sadly

by Chinwe Okafor

Im sure most will not find this piece of information palatable. All that time invested in the act and all for nothing?

Well i never believed in self-helps much less the one that describes the endless joy that comes with continuous sexual intercourse. Research has shown that it is the reverse case instead it led to a decline in wanting for and enjoyment of sex.

Rubbish? In the first study to examine the causal connection between sexual frequency and happiness, Carnegie Mellon University researchers experimentally assigned some couples to have more sex than others, and observed both group’s happiness over a three month period and reported their finding in the Journal of Economic Behaviour & Organisation.

According to the scientists, simply having more sex did not make couples happier, in part because the increased frequency led to a decline in wanting for and enjoyment of sex.

One hundred and twenty eight healthy individuals between the ages of 35-65 who were in married male-female couples participated in the research. The researchers randomly assigned the couples to one of two groups. The first group received no instructions on sexual frequency. The second group was asked to double their weekly sexual intercourse frequency.

The couples instructed to increase sexual frequency did have more sex. However, it did not lead to increased, but instead to a small decrease, in happiness. Looking further, the researchers found that couples instructed to have more sex reported lower sexual desire and a decrease in sexual enjoyment. It wasn’t that actually having more sex led to decreased wanting and liking for sex. Instead, it seemed to be just the fact that they were asked to do it, rather than initiating on their own.

In an explanation, the study’s lead investigator, George Loewenstein,  said: “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 baby-sitting, hotel rooms or Egyptian sheets, rather than directing them to do so.”

One of the study’s designers, Tamar Krishnamurti, suggested that the study’s findings may actually help couples to improve their sex lives and their happiness.

“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,” said Krishnamurti, a research scientist in CMU’s Department of Engineering and Public Policy.

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