Increased Sex Does Not Increase Happiness

There has been a lot of self-help books that claim if you have more sex you will be happier, but in a first-ever study between sex and happiness, researchers have found that this is not true at all. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University decided to examine the connection between happiness and sex frequency, which was done by telling some couples to have more sex than other couples.


The researchers published a report about the findings in the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization. In the study, the researchers observed the happiness of both groups of couples over three months, which was the couple having sex whenever and the couple that was asked to have more sex. The study found that the group that was told to have more sex was not happier than the other group, partially because the frequency of sex being increased led to a decrease in enjoyment of sex. The researchers used 128 healthy people between 35 and 65 for this study, who were all married in a heterosexual male-female relationship. The researchers assigned the couples randomly to one of the two groups, and the first group did not have any frequency for sexual activity. The second group was told to double their sexual intercourse frequency.

The couples had to complete three different surveys, including one at the beginning to establish a baseline for the study. The next survey took place every day during the experiment period, and this survey asked questions online which measured the happiness and enjoyableness as well as frequency of sex. The last study was an exit study, which looked at the baseline to determine if it changed during the three-month period.

The couples that were asked to have more sex did in fact have more sex, but it did not lead to an increase in happiness. In fact, it led to a small decrease in happiness with the more frequent sex. The researchers also found out that those who were asked to have more sex reported they had less sexual desire, and less sexual enjoyment. It is important to note that it wasn’t the fact they were having more sex that led to the decrease in happiness, but it was the fact they were asked to do this and it was not something either of them initiated on their own.

The lead study investigator, George Loewenstein, and Herbert A. Simon University Professor of Economics and Psychology in the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences, also had something to say about the results. Loewenstein said that “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.”

Loewenstein believes that a lot of couples are having less sex for their own benefit, and believes increasing frequency can be beneficial if done in the right ways. This study also shows that instead of couples trying to get the frequency back they had during the beginning of the relationship, the couples should be focusing on making the enjoyment of the sex they do have better. Couples that are trying to increase sex because they feel like they have to end up just feeling like they are not getting anything out of it, and that it was forced upon them. This study shows that if couples focus on making their environment better and making the sex more enjoyable, then the frequency might go up, but the happiness associated with the sex they are having is going to increase. Couples also need to do things to help them spark the desire, such as making a candlelight night for two or doing something both people feel fun, such as engaging in fetish play or costume play.

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Jeanne Rose
Jeanne Rose lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, and has been a freelance writer since 2010. She took Allied Health in vocational school where she earned her CNA/PCA, and worked in a hospital for 3 years. Jeanne enjoys writing about science, health, politics, business, and other topics as well.