Singles in America: Sex and Singles

By Dr. Justin R. Garcia, PhD.

match.com singles in america sex and singles

U.S. singles most often have sex at night, don’t want to know their partner’s sexual history, have trouble deciding when to have sex with a new dating partner, and overall just want more sex. But why?

In the fourth annual Singles in America study, we asked 5,329 single men and women, of every demographic and walk of life, a ton of questions about their attitudes and behaviors surrounding dating, romance, and their personal lives. Not to mention sex… we asked a lot of questions about being single and sexual! Why? Because sexuality is an important part of the human condition – and it always has been, across time and cultures. Indeed, it is the very ingredient needed for human evolution and survival. But beyond the basic necessity of survival, we know that sex is also an important ingredient to the function of romantic relationships – from newly dating couples to those married 50+ years. Research has shown that sexual satisfaction can predict a wide range of outcomes, stretching from one’s sense of happiness, to health factors, and even the likelihood of breaking up (yup, that’s right – low sexual satisfaction is one of the best predictors of divorce!). Sex always has been, and always will be, important.

So what has Match.com’s 2013 Singles in America taught us about the current state of sexuality among the 111 million unmarried adults in America today?

-       Singles want more sex! Hoping for more play between the sheets in 2014? Well, you’re not alone:  68% of single men and 57% of single women want to have more sex this year compared to last. But despite what popular culture might have us believe, singles ideally would have sex 2-3 times a week – only 15% of single men and 12% of single women would ideally hope to have sex every day with a familiar partner.

-       Abiding by the 3-date-rule? Many people ask themselves when the best time is in a new relationship to take the next (sexual) step. Often we fear that if we have sex too soon, it might send the wrong message, or complicate our decisions about committing or fleeing. Not surprising, given the complicated cultural norms we have regarding sexual behavior. We found that nearly half of singles think it’s only okay to have sex with a new partner once you’ve hit the 6th date. But on average, men tend to count the number of dates (with idiosyncratic rules about waiting for the 3rd, 5th, or 10th date, for instance). Women, on the other hand, tend to more often use relationship “milestones” as a marker of when to make things sexual, such as a clear sign of commitment or exclusivity.

-       Keeping your number under wraps? In our study, 21% of women and 23% of men have altered the number of sexual partners they’ve had in the past when asked (either by increasing or decreasing the figure). As one of my friends once joked, “I always say 8… for the last 10 years, my number is always 8.” Whether you are secure with your number or not, nearly half of singles simply don’t want to know their partners sexual history (56% of men and 48% of women). It’s a complicated question, and raises another question altogether – what good comes of asking?

-       Turn off that TV! Although television in bed might seem like a nice way to unwind, 77% of men and 82% of women consider it a major turn off when getting frisky. In fact, it’s the #1 sexual turn off for men, and #2 for women. Why? TV is innately distracting. Satisfying sex typically requires attentiveness to one’s self and to one’s partner – and that’s not easy to do if you’re more focused on the next guest on tonight’s late night show.

As the World Health Organization has noted, sexuality is a fundamental part of human health and wellbeing. But even more so, it’s also a central part of humanity, and a part of the close relationships that bind us together. If we want to know how to promote and maintain healthy and successful romantic relationships, sexual behavior is an undeniable part of that. We must continue to talk openly and honestly about human sexuality, with all its ups and downs, and in all its wonderful variety.

Be sure to check out SinglesinAmerica.com for more stats, facts & surprises!