Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Sex Every Third Day

Trojan, the condom manufacturer, sponsors a research company to conduct a sex survey every year. Appropriately enough, the survey is called the Trojan® U.S. SEX CENSUS.

The survey makes headlines each time it's published because it ranks various cities according to their sexual practices. For example, one recent headline was, "San Francisco Loses, Houston Wins in Trojan Sex Survey."

I found one data point in the survey to be very personally disturbing. But before I get to that datum, I thought I should share some of the dubious details of how the survey was conducted.

We all know that statistics can be twisted to say just about anything and that surveys are a common tool used to create misleading statistics. By carefully wording a question, or by asking a leading question first, you can influence people to answer a certain way. For example, 'Do you approve of President Obama's authorization to kill Osama Bin Laden?' followed by 'Do you approve of President Obama's performance as Commander-in-Chief?' versus 'Do you approve of the US government's deficit spending?' followed by 'Do you approve of President Obama's performance as US President?'

I can't comment about the exact questions used in the Trojan survey because they were not publicly disclosed. But this is what we do know about how the survey was conducted: "The Sex Census presented by Trojan® condoms is based on two studies conducted by StrategyOne [a public opinion research company] from March 15-21, 2011. The first, a national sample of 1,000 10-minute surveys were conducted online among U.S. Adults 18+. The results are nationally representative based on the U.S. Census indicators. With 95% confidence, the margin of error is +/- 3.1%. The data was weighted to ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the actual U.S. population according to U.S. Census figures. The second is a study conducted online in ten major U.S. cities among Adults 18+. The cities are: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, San Francisco, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Washington D.C. Atlanta, and Houston. A total of 2,000 10-minute surveys were conducted. Sample size of 200 per city. With 95% confidence, the margins of error within each individual city is +/- 2.2%."

I'm no statistician but it seems to me that 200 people per city isn't much of a sample size. +/- 2.2% per city? Really? I'm skeptical.

The part of the methodology that most interests me is that "The results are nationally representative based on the U.S. Census indicators." I'm skeptical that nearly 40 women who are at least 75 years old took a ten minute on-line Trojan sex survey. They're only 4% of the sample group, but still, are the results truly representative of the actual U.S. population? It seems to me that there would be many more 20-somethings who would spend time on a ten minute Trojan sex survey than any other demographic. And doesn't the fact that it's a Trojan sex survey bias the results??

Anyway...the reason I'm bitching is because I don't like the primary result. According to the survey, the average American has sex 120 times per year.

120?!!!! Are you kidding me???! Once every three days?!!

Wow. At this point, I'd be thrilled to get laid once a month. I literally can't imagine having sex with my wife every third day, week in and week out, all year long. The whole idea blows my mind.

The more I've thought about it, the more I've realized...I'm 18 + 26...that means for the last 26 years I should have been having sex more than twice a week...but actually...I don't think I've ever had that much sex for more than a continuous month or two! Even when I add in my encounters with men and my FWBs, yes there were months when I had sex more than twice a week. But a whole year? Maybe one.

As I've thought about what I can do to make my marriage work I've wondered how much sex is enough. I'd be happy with once a month. My wife? I don't even know. I get conflicting opinions from her. She's been complaining that we didn't have sex often enough in our pre-Charlie years and yet now she says she's not really interested in me or Charlie or hardly anyone else. Of course it doesn't matter how much sex other couples are having, all that matters is that we're happy. But I'll say this...if a "normal" heterosexual woman wants to have sex every three days then I could never be married to a "normal" heterosexual woman. Three or maybe four times a month would be fun. Seven or eight times a month would be a stretch. But ten times a month, every month? I literally couldn't do it.

Now...what if I flip the question around? What if I had a male partner? Sex every three days, no matter what? No problem! That would be effortless...

Yes, I'm gay and I'd be happy to have regular straight sex with my wife - but not too much of it. The good news is that, although my low level of straight desire might make me incompatible with many women, I don't see it as much of an issue for my wife.

Mostly, the Trojan survey makes me feel like a big loser. Not just because the average person is having way more sex than me (not a surprise) but because even if I desperately wanted to be straight I couldn't do it.

One of the most common observations from straight wives after their husband comes out is that they knew something was wrong in the bedroom. Sometimes their husband can't perform, sometimes he doesn't seem very into it, sometimes he's robotic or "not present."

All of this makes me wonder what would happen if more women took the Trojan survey very seriously. We closeted men think we're so clever. No one would ever guess we're not straight. Right? Um, sure...until we have to actually perform like a straight man on a consistent basis.

I'm curious...especially about men who identify as you have sex with your female partner an average of 120 times a year? If not, could you consistently perform at that level? What if you only had sex with men? Would that be any different and if so, would it be a lot, somewhat, or a little easier or more difficult compared to women?

Maybe I'm wrong, but it seems to me that the ability to consistently perform may be the best indicator of one's true sexuality. Thoughts?


  1. In the first year of our marriage, we had sex every day without fail; sometimes twice on the weekends. After the birth of our first child, it probably still was several times per week, but gradually diminished over the next four years.

    After the birth of our third child, it dropped down to "never" and remained that way. She was angry, exhausted and critical of me; I didn't want to go anywhere near her.

    It sounds harsh, but in additional to our relationship problems, I didn't find her physically attractive either, as she had gained a ton of weight. Also, due to the physical changes caused by three vaginal deliveries, it was very hard for me to get much pleasure from 'the act' itself.

  2. If T and I lived together we would have sex WAY more than 3 times a week.

  3. I think that it is in Trojan's interest make ppl think that everyone else is getting a lot of sex and that they should have sex more and that they should buy lots of Trojans to do it.

    I think you're right about the ability to perform consistently as a tell on orientation. And: Where are or were your fantasies? My feeling is, if you weren't fascinated by breasts etc when you were in adolescence, dude, you're not straight.

  4. I think Buddy Bear has it right. Trojan does this survey for a business reason: to make money. They make money selling condoms. They sell condoms by making people want to have sex. Connect the...

    I have never needed sex from either gender that much. Of course, when I was younger, I used to take care of myself every day or so, but now, once every 1-2 weeks is fine with me.

    Being with the same person (male or female), that does not maintain themselves is a big turn off - physically and mentally. Also, it has been shown in both humans and rats that couples that are together for long periods have reduced interest in sex over time. But...bring in a new partner and a mouse or a man will be ready to go immediately.

    Still, 3 times a week, on average, not me either.

  5. 3 times a week? Hell, I could go 3 times a day! Man or woman, no problem! Admittedly, I might eventually get bored with it, but it would take a lot for me to get bored.

    Granted, having said that, I'm lucky to actually have sex three times a month.

    I think Jason and Will are right. It has to be marketing. This number sounds way too high, especially for the "Average" American. If there are those of us only having sex on a rare occasion, and considering all those people in the early and late years of their lives who aren't having any sex, then there must be people screwing like rabbits out there to make up for all that lost time.

  6. Buddy Bear - The reason you say the sex stopped was because your wife was angry, exhausted and critical of you. You also mentioned her weight gain. Suppose she had never caught you looking at gay porn, that she lost some weight and that she was a lot less angry, tired and you think you two would be having a "normal" sex life? Just curious, especially because you didn't mention your orientation as a factor.

    Jim - We've all suspected you were a sex maniac. Now we have proof :-)

    Jason - My complaints about the survey were a backhanded way of saying that I'm very skeptical of the results. It certainly is self-serving. OTOH, it's an independent research company and they get about the same overall results year after year. I also asked some straight spouses what they thought and no one said sex once every three days was unusual.

    WillBeBi - I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks that straight sex every third day, on a continual basis, is a lot!!

    Mack - I had the same thoughts about averaging. I'm skeptical of the survey results for a number of reasons...but then, as I mentioned above to Jason, the straight spouses I asked said once every third day was about right. I'm not sure what to think. But it doesn't matter anyway, does it? It just matters if you're both satisfied.

  7. I also have never been able to have sex three times in one week with my wife. It just never happened. She just is not that interested. I would like twice just fine but that does not happen either. I am like you and think I am really lucky if we go more than once a month.
    Men's Health published a health blurb in 1994 that said the average male needed an orgasm 3 times a week for a healthy prostate. This may be true. I tried to do it for months and it is not easy. At least it was fun trying.
    Enjoyed your post. Chase W.

  8. On further thought, I know that there are some men who claim they have sex 2-3 times A DAY, can't imagine not. There may be enough of these athletes to skew the results upward.

  9. If there's one thing guys are going to exaggerate about, it's going to be sex. Who wants to say they only get it once every month or two? The outliers on the upside will want to brag about their activities.

    I think interest in sex goes down as you get older. Most guys couldn't do what you've done -- no m2m sex for seven+ years? Everyone's different.

  10. A better source of data on sexual behavior can be found at the Kinsey Institute or SEICUS. Better organized, more transparent and more nuanced than the Trojan marketing stunt.

    @mb247365 above: Chase, there's ample evidence that the prostate benefits from regular exercise. From the perspective of maintaining prostate health, all the prostate requires is ejaculation, achieved by any means necessary. It means we need to encourage older guys (>30-35 yrs old, say) to jerk off frequently, even if they're not fully in the mood, if they aren't getting their prostate exercise via other methods.

    Libido and frequency of all sexual activity fluctuates dramatically in each individual over time in response to a host of circumstances and conditions. It doesn't necessarily follow a steady curve of any kind. From the time I came out at age 17-18 in 1971-72 until 1994, I had lots and lots of sex. From mid-94 until some time in 2008 I was celibate. Since returning to a sex life, I guess I'm averaging having sex (other than masturbation) 7-10 times a month. If I were still in New York City, as I was in the 1980's, I expect I'd have a higher average yet. All of which is to say that sometimes dramatic changes which confound the expected timeline happen. I'm nine weeks shy of turning 57, and apart from never expecting to live this long, period, I had no expectation that my sex life would be as satisfying as it is, or that I'd enjoy the companionship and affection - maybe even the love - of some truly wonderful men.

    Chuang-tzu said,

    Easy is right. Begin right
    And you are easy.
    Continue easy and you are right.
    The right way to go easy
    Is to forget the right way
    And forget that the going is easy.

  11. Coming with my opinion after years: I do not think men aways exaggerate when they are giving high numbers. I´ve used to have sex 8 times a day(!!!), every single day, with my BF of 6 years. The first time we counted how many times it was he freaked out saying it sounds too much, but then I reminded him of our regular "time-table" - once right before geting up, one quickie in a shower or kitchen, two quickies during the daytime (sometimes in public toilletes ;) ) and four times during night. He said that given this way it seems OK, lol.
    Later in my life I met another man with just such a high sex drive - he has told me that he was so happy with me as before he thought he could not find a woman who could support that... I´m just trying to say that it is really possible there are some people who make the average numbers a bit higher than expected.
    (Funny, in some period of my life I was counting the difference between my (g/B) husband´s demand on marital sex and mine. I realized that he was able (or willing) to cover 0,7% of my sexual needs... yet, when I offered him opening our marriage on both sides, he told me that I have no reason to ask for it since I have got everything I need at home - as he is a man. The end is that, after almost 15 years, we have no sex at all. Just as BuddyBear says, me too, I became angry and exhausted, anxious and gaining weight /mostly because I replace sex with food/ and not interested in making love with my husband anymore. It was making me feeling bad during performing and even after, doubting my attractivity and his mental presence etc. If I can´t eat my cake, small bitter crumbs of a cookie just don´t make it. )