An Indiana University study on sexual satisfaction and relationship happiness has an interesting study population and some very interesting findings.
The population was 1009 couples who had been together an average of 25 years. The men were age 40-70, the women age 25 to 76 (median age 55 for the men, 52 for the women). Couples came from Brazil, Germany, Japan, Spain, and the United States. This study looked at couples rather than individuals – an obvious way to study sex and relationships that has been almost universally ignored by researchers. Because this study looks at couples, it is more relevant to you and me than most sex studies.
Some of the results:
- Frequent cuddling and kissing increased the odds of relational happiness for both men and women, but more so for men than for women.
- The longer a couple is together, the more likely it is the man is happy.
- For women length of the relationship reduces the odds of being happy for the first 15 years, then levelled out, and began increasing the odds of being happy after 20 years.
- The more sex a couple had, the more likely each was to be happy, with any increase in sex increasing the odds of being happy in the relationship. This was true for men and women, and only slightly more so for men.
- The more importance a man put on the woman’s orgasm, the more likely he was to be sexually satisfied.
- More frequent kissing and cuddling improved the odds of both men and women being sexually satisfied. In women, this doubled the odds of being sexually satisfied.
- Frequent sexual caressing significantly raised the odds that a woman was sexually satisfied.
- For both men and women, more frequent sex meant a better chance of sexual satisfaction.
- More lifetime sex partners slightly reduced the chance of being sexually satisfied for both men and women.
- The length of a relationship had a positive effect on the odds of being sexually satisfied for both men and women, but this was much more significant in women. At the start of the relationship, women are far more likely to be sexually unsatisfied. This gap closes for the first fifteen years of the relationship. For the second fifteen years, the odds of being sexually satisfied are about the same for men and women. At 30 years, the gap appears again, but with the woman being more likely to be satisfied than the man is.
- A woman’s chances of being sexually satisfied go up every year she is in the relationship. The increase is significant over the first 15-20 years, and continues at a lower rate for the duration of the relationship.
I would like to draw a few points from this data:
It is common for female sexual satisfaction to be low early in a marriage. It is the norm for the man to be more sexually satisfied than his bride is. This changes over time, with the woman growing significantly in sexual satisfaction over the first fifteen years of the marriage, and reaching parity with her husband somewhere between 15 and 25 years. Both non-sexual contact and sex play outside of “having sex” greatly improve a woman’s chances of being sexually satisfied.
Her bottom line: Expect sex to get better for many years to come.
Men: The common image/understanding of men sexually and relationally is not valid. Younger men may fit the stereotype to some degree, but this changes as they age (grow up!). Middle-age and older men are not relationally challenged creatures who only care about sex. Sex for men is a part of the whole, and if the relationship isn’t good, the sex isn’t good. The men who enjoy sex the most are generally those who focus a great deal on her pleasure.
His bottom line: Look beyond sex to build a relationship that results in great sex.
Sexual experience (such as premarital sleeping around) does NOT improve the chances of being sexually satisfied. On the contrary, more partners mean a slightly lower chance of being sexually satisfied. Long relationships improve the odds of relational happiness and sexual satisfaction for both men and women.
Singles bottom line: Save yourself for one person, and marry as soon as reasonably possible.