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We’ve got your update on this week’s most outrageous sex studies. Find out if the key to happiness is having lots of sex—the truth may surprise you. And see if your generation is up to par—in terms of sexual partners—with older or younger ones. Spoiler alert: your dad may have more notches in his belt than you’ll ever have in your lifetime. But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s start with the first study.
Self-help books, television shows—even your friends have one thing in common: they’ve told you the key to happiness is sex—and lots of it. But researchers from Carnegie Mellon University say that’s just not true.
In the study, scientists enlisted 128 35- to 65-year-old heterosexual married couples. First, the couples answered questions to establish baselines figures on their level of happiness and sexual frequency. Then, half of these couples were asked to double their weekly intercourse frequency, the other half didn’t receive any instruction. Daily, during this three-month experimental period, the couples answered questions online to measure their health behaviors, happiness levels, and the occurrence, type and enjoyment of sex. The exit survey analyzed whether their baseline levels changed over time.
Interestingly enough, the couples that upped their frequency of sex weren’t any happier. In fact, their happiness decreased—as did their sexual desire and enjoyment, likely because they were being told to have sex, rather than initiating it on their own, researchers say.
“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 Tamar Krishnamurti, a research scientist in CMU’s Department of Engineering and Public Policy, in a press release.
Brace yourself for this next study’s revelation: Your parents and grandparents (depending on how old you are) will probably have more sexual partners in their lifetime than you, according to separate research published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior—of 33,000 U.S. adults between 1972-2012—from the General Social Survey.
To measure the country’s shifting sexual landscape, researchers compared the average number of sexual partners among 25–year-old Boomers to today’s 25-year-olds.
Here’s the breakdown of sexual partners per generation:
>>> Greatest Generation (1901-1924): 3
>>> Silent Generation (1925-1945): 5
>>> Baby Boomers (1946-1964): 11
>>> Gen X (1965-1984): 10
>>> Millennial (1985-2004): 8
So, what gives—why the dip for Millennials? Study author, Jean M. Twenge from San Diego State University, suggests Millennials may be having sex within a smaller circle of people because they’re not participating in serious dating, which could lead to more partners. It could also have to do differening attitudes about sex and life in general. “Millennials are more accepting of premarital sex than any previous generation, yet have had fewer sexual partners than GenX’ers. This is consistent with their image as a tolerant, individualistic generation accepting others’ choices and making their own,” Twenge said in a release.
And to think older generations are appalled by Tinder…