According to a new study published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, researchers from the University of Toronto found that having sex at least once a week is equivalent to earning an extra $50,000 per year. More definitely, the study found that sex contributes to greater long-term happiness because of cuddling that’s involved, both at the time and afterwards — and that happiness is comparable to the kind experienced when you earn a fat bonus check.
The study (which only included people who were in relationships) found the not-too-much and not-too-little sweet spot for sex frequency that promotes the optimal satisfaction. The findings? You and yours SO need to be hitting the sheets at least once a week. According to the published research, sexual frequency had a curved association with relationship satisfaction, and relationship satisfaction mediated the association between sexual frequency and all-around well-being. That means that the frequency of sex has a direct effect on the satisfaction you feel in your relationship, and in turn, the satisfaction you feel in your relationship has a direct effect on the satisfaction you feel in your daily life. Turns out, for people in relationships, sexual satisfaction and its effect on well-being peaks at a frequency greater than once a week.
“In my clinical experience of almost 20 years, most people who have sex on a regular basis are much happier overall,” says Dr. Svetlana Kogan, a member of the American Medical Association. “They have a higher sense of self-esteem and a positive outlook when facing a problem.” And according to Kogan, those positive feelings come from both the emotional benefits of cuddling as well as the primal mental benefits of procreation. “Regular cuddling is affectionate and warm and cozy — very similar to hugging friends,” she says. “Oxytocin hormone released during cuddling promotes a strong emotional bond. Intimate contact during and after sex is different hormone-wise (testosterone in men and estrogen in women) and emotionally. This is an activity that from the evolutionary standpoint leads to procreation. Nature needs to ensure the act is completed and makes sure that both parties feel happy and are likely to repeat the act in the future.”
So protecting the species and protecting yourself has the same benefits emotionally of protecting your finances — all stemming from the basic instinct to have what you need to take care of yourself in life. Not a shocking revelation, but certainly a good one to know the next time you and your partner’s love life is lacking luster due to outside stress from work, money, and the chaos of life.
Unfortunately, the effects of sex on your well-being aren’t so simple if you’re single (shocker). “Single folks often use sex as a power tool,” Kogan explains. “In my clinical experience, they do not derive as much long-lasting emotional benefit out of the act. It is possible that this is because subconsciously they realize that they are in it for a quick, physical pleasure reward — but this is just one way to look at it. From the standpoint of Eastern philosophies, sex is something that should be a different experience for everyone: lighter for some, harder for others.”
Back to the West, though, as Kogan puts it: “Commitment changes sexual experience, of course — it causes it to become less spontaneous and more routine. That’s why in the East, temporary abstinence is looked upon favorably.” So if you’re single, don’t sweat the “dry spells.” And for those in a relationship, remember the benefits of regular sex, but realize you can’t experience those benefits if your sex becomes boring.