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The Link Between Happiness and Sexual Intimacy

A new study reveals the difference between men and women.

Source: Photo by Dainis Graveris on Unsplash
A new study finds that happiness and sex are tied together. But is there a difference between men and women?
Source: Photo by Dainis Graveris on Unsplash

Some people say happiness is a factor of genetics. Others insist it's determined by our life circumstances while still others claim it's based on state of mind.

A new study, published by Tracking Happiness, wanted to find out if happiness is related to sexual activity. The researchers asked 665 men and 482 women between ages 15 and 60-plus the question, “Which five words do you associate most with “happiness'?” Respondents were able to choose from among 15 words—for example, “love,” “satisfaction,” “wealth,” “enlightenment,” and “sex.”

The answers provide insight into how different groups of people think of happiness by looking at which words are most often associated with the word “happiness.” The authors observed a difference between men and women when it came to sex and happiness: Men were 250% more likely to associate the word “sex” with “happiness” than women. Other key findings:

  • 15% of all respondents associated the word “happiness” with the word “sex." In other words, when asked to describe happiness, 173 of the respondents would likely use the word sex as part of their description.
  • Of the 173 respondents that placed sex in their top five words associated with happiness, 134 were male. By comparison, only 38 females placed sex in their top-5 words. The remaining respondents preferred not to answer the question of gender, while still choosing “sex” as one of the words associated with “happiness."
  • 20% of male respondents associated the word “sex” with “happiness."
  • Only 8% of female respondents associated the word “sex” with “happiness.”

Previous Research on Sexual Intimacy

Previous studies also found that sex is positively correlated with happiness. One study conducted at Indiana University found that people were happier and reported more meaning in life on days they had sex. Another study published in the Society for Personality and Social Psychology found that sex increases our positive moods and that couples who have weekly sex are the happiest.

Perhaps these findings explain why the words “sex” and “happiness” are linked with each other. But what could explain the relatively big difference between men and women, as found in the current study by Tracking Happiness? Why are men more likely to associate the two words with each other than women? There are numerous reasons that could explain why women are less likely to link sex with happiness.

Differences Between Men and Women

One study suggests that women are less likely to orgasm during sex and that that could explain the gender divide. Researchers tracked 24,000 college-aged women and found that just 40% reached orgasm during a hookup, while 80% of men did. This suggests that women are 50% as likely to reach an orgasm when compared to men.

In addition, there is a double standard for sex when it comes to men and women. There is a stigma that comes with women who engage in casual sex that is considered unequal when compared to men. In other words, women are more likely to damage their sexual reputation when engaging in casual sex. These reasons make sex—especially one-night stands—more high-risk/low-reward for women. For men, it can be said that it is the opposite: low-risk/high-reward. This could explain the relatively big difference found in the survey between men and women.

According to the United Kingdom Office of National Statistics, an in-depth analysis of prostitution found that the majority of prostitutes in the UK are female (58%). This difference is driven the higher demand for female sex workers. Additionally, internet traffic to adult sites consists largely of men. According to Statista, approximately 70% of traffic to a well-known large adult website is male. These findings are all in line with the observed difference between men and women and could explain why men are more likely to link sex with happiness.

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