In the middle of the usual collection of stories about the latest mayhem of political shenanigans in Washington and trouble spots around the world Wednesday of this week in the normally staid New York Times was this disturbing headline: “It’s Not Just You. Americans Are Having Less Sex.”
There is one problem: Americans are having less sex.
That goes for people of all types, regardless of their gender, race, marriage status or the region in which they live, according to a new study published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior. In fact, American adults had sex nine fewer times in 2014 than they did in the late 1990s.
From the early 1990s into the early 2000s, Americans generally had sex from about 60 to 65 times a year, according to the study. But after 2002, Americans appeared to lose interest. While the decline has been nearly across the board, one group seems to be pulling everyone else down: married couples.
Yegads! Can this be happening? We’re not getting it on like we used to?
As a teenager, I was randy as they came in the 1960s. My ’57 Ford had a back seat as large as a couch and it was where dates and I spent many an evening at the Starlight Drive-In in Christiansburg or the Autodrome outside of Radford.
Mostly, it was a lot of groping and progress, of course, came in baseball terms: “First base, second base, third and…” I got slapped more than once.
A lot different than the freewheeling lifestyle of the swinging ’70s as a single man. It was fun — a lot of fun — and the primary sexually-transmitted disease threatening us in those days could be handled with penicillin in a time when the use of birth control pills by single women was normal.
“I take them to control cramps,” said a very loving Catholic lady I knew in the 70s. “That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.”
The Archives of Sexual Behavior is now telling us that we live today in a society where social media and video games have taken over for the pleasures of frolicking in the sack with a partner of our choice.
The Times report continues:
Married couples generally have sex more often than single people, but that advantage is declining. Married couples had sex an average of 56 times a year in 2014, down from 67 in 1989. But more people are staying single — meaning there is less sex — and the couples who do walk down the aisle are making fewer trips into the bedroom.
The report highlighted several cultural changes in recent years that could have contributed to the decline. Americans have far more options these days for different kinds of pleasure — like browsing Facebook and social media, playing video games or watching Netflix.
The adults who were born and grew up during the rise of portable technology and entertainment, millennials and Generation Z, are having sex less often than any previous generation, the study found. So much for the stereotype of twenty-somethings as sexual deviants in a hookup culture.
Sorry, but Facebook and Netflix are not the same as the intimate pleasures with one’s significant other. Amy and I have been married for 38 years and counting and marriage did not dampen our desire for each other. Only 56 times a year? Just a little over once a week? Never kept count but that sounds awfully low.
Yet, in all this talk about less sex in our world, there is hope.
Among this population of those who prefer texting on smartphones to sex with a willing partner is the part of the New York Times report that says at least one age group is having more, not less, sex than the rest.
Despite all the declines, one age group showed no interest in slowing down: people over 70. They had sex nearly 11 times during 2014, up from an average of 9.6 times in 1989.
I turn 70 later this year.
Hope I’m up to the challenge.