Science Has Figured Out Exactly How Often Happy Couples Have Sex

And it's a lot less often than you think.

couple
(Image credit: Getty Images)

When you think of a deliriously happy couple, you might assume they're having sex every waking moment. But according to a new study, it turns out that many satisfied couples (opens in new tab) spend most nights reading in their pajamas instead.

Researchers at the University of Toronto collected data from surveys of 30,000 Americans over the past 40 years to see if happy couples have more or less sex than unhappy ones. Their results, published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, revealed there's a sweet spot for happy couples everywhere, and that's having sex once a week.

They found that more sex meant more happiness, but there was a limit to the connection, and that was the once a week mark. This was the case regardless of age, gender, or length of a relationship. But this was only for people in relationships; for single people, there was no link between frequency of sex (opens in new tab) and general happiness.

Why does satisfaction drop off after once a week? It remains unclear, but the study authors write that couples might feel satisfied if they're having the amount of sex they think is "average" for couples like them. Previous studies have found that people tend to report they have sex approximately, yup, once a week, so couples who do it that often probably feel pretty good about themselves.

Overall, the researchers say their results shouldn't be a prescription for more or less sex, but a reason to have a conversation with your partner and see if you're meeting each other's needs in the bedroom. 

"Our findings suggest that it's important to maintain an intimate connection with your partner, but you don't need to have sex everyday as long as you're maintaining that connection," researcher Amy Muise said in a statement (opens in new tab). "It's important to maintain an intimate connection with your partner without putting too much pressure on engaging in sex as frequently as possible."

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Megan Friedman is the former managing editor of the Newsroom at Hearst. She's worked at NBC and Time, and is a graduate of Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism.