THE results of our national survey into what’s happening under the covers have come in — and the stats will surprise you.
We called on body+soul sexologist Dr Gabrielle Morrissey and sexpert Cyndi Darnell to help analyse the numbers.
At the start of this year, body+soul surveyed almost 4000 Aussies about their sex lives. How often are they having it? Are they satisfied? Do they want more or something different? What are their feelings on fidelity?
The results flooded in over two weeks, with respondents around the country revealing intimate information about what’s happening under the covers.
We’ve looked at how the genders have answered, and where appropriate we’ll give both female and male statistics, and even drill down to regions. Here’s what we discovered…
DR MORRISSEY SAYS: “When looking at all the questions, it’s important to bear in mind that more than three quarters of the respondents are in a long-term relationship. These are settled couples answering the questions.”
One in 5 are having sex less than once a month (a quarter of women).
About the same number of people are “doing it” three to four times a month, with 17% getting it on five to eight times in that period.
Interestingly, looking at the genders, more men than women ticked the higher-number boxes, but when it came to the lower end of the scale — such as having nookie less than once a month — it’s women who topped this with 24% admitting to rarely coupling over a four-week period (17% of men).
Almost 8% claim to have sex 11 to 20 times a month but less than 1% are having it every day.
MORRISSEY: “I love the honesty in this answer. We know, from this and from other research, that there are
a great many couples in long-term relationships having very little sex. Also, the idea that you couple up and have sex every day is a myth.”
DARNELL: “I’d be interested to know what respondents define as ‘sex’. Heterosexuals, and most people
surveyed, can get caught up in thinking only intercourse is considered sex. But if you have sexual encounters that
you enjoy through the month with your partner or alone, can that be considered sex? Maybe we need to broaden what our definition of ‘sex each month’ is.”
Almost half of men “definitely” want a more adventurous sex life.
This compared with 28% of women, which is still a substantial number wanting to rev it up in the boudoir — but the difference in numbers is notable.
Almost 44% of women and 33% of men were “OK” with their state of sexual adventure. Only 2% “definitely” didn’t want things ramped up.
MORRISSEY: “Men may need some guidance as to how to introduce low-scale kink and excitement in a female-friendly way.” She suggests it be something that enhances the relationship and adds excitement rather than be framed as a much-needed improvement. To make a kinky idea more appealing, offer it within a romantic context such as a getaway weekend with enhanced connection and playfulness in mind.
Are we satisfied? Maybe — but 25% are a bit “meh”.
Yep, a whopping quarter of respondents didn’t want to own up to being satisfied or dissatisfied with their sex life, ticking the “neutral” box. Slightly more people were satisfied (30%), while 14% declared they were dissatisfied.
MORRISSEY: “These results are to be expected in long-term relationships in which there are obstacles — such as kids, bills and routines — to an exciting, fulfilling sex life. It’s interesting that more women report being very satisfied than men, and more men report being dissatisfied.”
DARNELL: “This relates to the frequency question. You may be totally satisfied with your once-a-month because it’s great sex you both enjoy — or you could be less satisfied with your five times a month of robotic sex. Can you have a conversation with each other about what you want?”
Many Aussies think their partners are better lovers than they are.
Almost 50% claim their partners are good or very good in the sack, but most (38%) rated themselves as “average” (7.3% rated their lovers as poor or very poor). Interestingly (but maybe not surprisingly), men tended to rate themselves as lovers higher than women.
Most of us have an “average” sex drive — but more than twice as many men call theirs “high” or “very high”.
This isn’t an unexpected answer. Culturally, men are encouraged to have a strong sex drive, and maybe women less. Morrissey thinks it relates back to how many couples said they were in a long-term relationship.
DARNELL: “Sex drives wax and wane — and we should expect that. Our drive isn’t a monolith made of stone, it’s more fluid, like water — sometimes it’s hot, other times it’s icy cold. This is normal. But if you’re worried about it, talk to your partner and if that’s difficult, speak to a therapist.”
More than half lost their virginity between the ages of 16 and 19.
Less than 14% loss their virginity at 15 or under and, by contrast, 5% were over 25.
DARNELL: “I like this answer as it flies in the face of this consensus that we’re over-sexualised and having sex at an increasingly young age. The age of 16-17 has been a constant for decades now.”
We’re a fairly faithful lot — but twice as many men admit to cheating than women.
Seven out of 10 of those in a committed relationship say they haven’t strayed. For the 10% who ticked the unfaithful box, twice as many were men than women.
Most of the cheaters claim they do so occasionally but one in three say it’s only been once. Women (45%) are more likely to have something extramarital with someone their partner knows, while men (65%) take the stranger-in-a-bar route.
MORRISSEY: “Interestingly, the same number of women and men who cheat do so regularly, suggesting affairs, but then more than half of the women who admit to cheating have done so only once versus men who mostly say it’s an occasional occurrence.”
DARNELL: “We need to stop asking the question about infidelity only and broaden this to include consensual non-monogamous relationships. There’s a growing acceptance that some people choose not to be monogamous and it’s OK with them. Not everyone who has sex with someone else outside their relationship is a cheater.”
But we’re not so forgiving.
Almost 60% of respondents would probably show their partner the door if they found out their significant other had played around.
Almost twice as many women (42%) than men (24%) were very unlikely to stay with a cheating partner.
MORRISSEY: “But not everyone is black and white — 18% said ‘it depends’, maybe because they have cheated themselves or been in a relationship long-term and aren’t prepared to throw their relationship away.”
“Say my name, say my name” — this could be good advice for 31% of men who claim they have had sex with people whose name they don’t know.
Only 10% of women claim the same. Meanwhile, both men (64%) and women (52%) admit to one-night stands and 17% have had casual sex with people they’ve met on the ’net.
More guys (18%) than gals (8%) say they hit the online dating sites to look for a good time.
MORRISSEY: “With more and more people going online to find love, this statistic shows that it’s good to be clear what your intentions are on dating sites — just casual sex or an actual relationship. Don’t be afraid to put it out there.”
If cities could speak, they’d have a lot to say about their sex lives…
MELBOURNE: They pride themselves on patience, which is our diplomatic way of saying that they had the most virgins over the age of 31 (almost 4%).
CANBERRA: It’s the city with the most people to have had sex with a colleague (57%). (Ahem, Parliament House?)
SYDNEY: As the city with the highest sex drive (11%), it makes sense that they’re also the most worried about catching an STI (10%).
BRISBANE: They’re more critical of others, rating their most recent sex partner as poor to “meh” (13%). Perhaps that might explain why they’ve “regularly” been unfaithful (15%).
PERTH: They’re a little more modest, admitting that they make “very poor” lovers (1%, more than any other city).
One in 6 men claim to have had more than 31 sexual partners — almost the same percentage of women have had just 1.
There were some big discrepancies in
the number of bedmates between the genders. While more than 15% of blokes claim to have bedded 31-plus people,
only 4% of women ticked the same box. Most respondents owned up to 5-10.
MORRISSEY: “Sex isn’t about numbers and conquests but it seems both sexes
still think keeping sexual partners in single digits is important.”
25 times more men than women have paid for sex.
OK, that’s not surprising — a quarter of males admit to forking out money for some action and 1% of females.
A similar amount of men and women (3%) would consider paying for it. And guess what, seven times more guys than gals would have sex for money even without knowing the amount. Equal numbers of men and women (a little over 10%) said they would consider sex for cash of the
dollar figure was high enough.
We’re not owning up to having sexually transmitted infections.
With less than 10% admitting to ever having an STI, Morrissey is suggesting that maybe our respondents aren’t telling the whole truth.
MORRISSEY: “This is an unrealistically small number which tells me they either don’t know or are fibbing. The majority of both men and women say never. I’d say this isn’t an accurate representation.”
And we’re not so worried about catching one.
More than 65% of respondents are “never bothered” about STIs or just don’t care.
MORRISSEY: “This is in line with the numbers showing that many respondents are in committed and faithful relationships, so there’s ‘no need to worry’.”
But we practise safe sex with a new partner, favouring the condom.
More than half always have safe sex with only 7% admitting to never. A significant one in five admit to playing a bit of Russian roulette with their sexual health, saying that they practise safe sex with partners “sometimes”.
When it comes to contraception, the condom is the stand-out method of choice (46%) or the pill (18%). More than 20% say they use nothing.
We’re not hooking up with work colleagues or having sex in the office — well, most of us.
Almost 60% of respondents have never shagged someone they work with but if they had, it’s most likely to be men (42%). Twice as many guys are also more inclined to have sex with a colleague in the office (26%) compared to women (13%).
MORRISSEY: “I’m a little surprised the number of work colleagues hooking up isn’t higher. But I still say, in the main, the principle guideline is not to mix business and pleasure. As for the low number of people having sex at work (21%), it matches with the ‘lack of adventure’ stats.”
Women are watching porn.
OK, not in the numbers that men are, but almost 50% admit to having watched it at all — 27% are viewing it occasionally and 8% are sitting down for regular sessions. Almost 45% of ladies say they’ve never watched porn. No surprises with the male responses with more than 70% watching porn occasionally or regularly — and just 10% say they’ve never watched it.
DARNELL: “Porn is here to stay so there’s no point dismissing all of it as bad and wrong. Both sexes are watching it, so we need to recognise that if it’s consensual and not disrespectful, it’s not a bad thing. Porn isn’t all the same — saying you watch porn is like saying you eat food. There are genres and different diets. A more public conversation about porn needs to be had.”
60% believe prostitution should be legalised…
…and only 14% say it shouldn’t be.
MORRISSEY: “Even though far fewer women are buying sex themselves, they recognise the health needs and legitimacy of the sex work industry and believe it should be legalised. This shows quite an attitudinal shift over the years.”
DARNELL: “I was surprised and encouraged by the support for the sex worker industry among the respondents.”
THE BIG QUESTION: CAN YOU HAVE A HAPPY RELATIONSHIP WITHOUT SEX?
Equal numbers (about 28%) agree and disagree that happy relationships/marriages can exist without sex. And then another 26% just don’t care one way or another.
Twice as many men than women seem to strongly disagree that happy, sexless relationships are possible.
DARNELL: “It’s not up to me to say if marriages and relationships can be happy without sex, it’s up to the people in the relationship to work this out, if they can.”
Janice Hiller, a UK psychologist specialising in sexual relationships, says, “If husband and wife get on well in other ways and there’s no distress over the lack of intimacy, then that’s fine. If one party wants sex and the other doesn’t, it can be terribly damaging. Typically, the rejected spouse will feel unloved, unattractive or neglected.”