It’s often said that arguing about money is the top reason for couples to split. But a new survey shows the biggest stressors in long-term relationships may have a lot to do with sex.
The survey of over 2,000 people in long-term relationships, commissioned by dating service eHarmony Inc., found that after work stress, the two most cited relationship problems are being too tired for sex, and low libido issues.
About 60% of respondents said they have sex at least weekly, and data showed a correlation between regular sex and happiness in a relationship. But interestingly, the 19% of respondents who said they were unhappy did not necessarily have less sex.
“The unhappy couples are having sex almost as much as the happy ones,” said Jeannie Assimos, eHarmoney’s Chief of Advice. “It just shows that sex isn’t the end-all, be-all.” The survey was conducted by research firm Harris Interactive.
It may also show that the health of your sex life (and your relationships) may not be about how frequently you have sex, but rather how well your expectations for sex match up with that of your partner, and also much you enjoy sex when you have it. The survey showed frequency of sex decreases significantly with age, but fewer people beyond the age of 55 reported being unhappy than those between the ages of 35 and 54.
Meanwhile, the happiest people who responded said they got together with their partners because of love, not because it “seemed like the right time,” Assimos said. “At the end of the day, settling down and finding someone is never a good reason to be with someone,” she said.
Because behavioral data from surveys are self-reported, there are bound to be some discrepancies in results. For example, 11% of men who responded said they have sex on a daily basis. This was, inexplicably, nearly double the amount of women who said the same thing. The survey included respondents who are not heterosexual.
And because relationships are complex, and issues can be closely linked, it’s difficult to say that the quality or frequency of sex isn’t impacted by non-sexual factors, like money problems.
The survey was the first of its kind conducted by eHarmony, a dating site founded in 1997 and marketed to singles looking for serious relationships. EHarmony’s larger rival in the multibillion-dollar dating service industry, Match Group Inc., which operates Tinder, Match.com, OkCupid and other services, conducts an annual survey called American Singles that focuses more on dating culture.
The results of that survey, released earlier this month, highlighted the evolving languages of dating and how singles today are more likely to start relationships with casual friends-with-benefits relationships (a.k.a. “situationships”).
Interestingly, both eHarmoney and Match’s studies found that—despite the contentious political climate in the U.S., a small minority of people cite politics as a deal breaker or as a major stressor on their relationships.