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Can We Have Too Much Sex?

John Updike famously said, "Sex is like money; only too much is enough.” But recent psychological studies indicate otherwise: while regular sex is vital in most relationships to promote intimacy and foster happiness, more is not always better.

LONDON – “Sex is like money,” John Updike wrote, “only too much is enough.” As it turns out, that is not strictly true, at least not in the context of monogamous relationships. So how much sex is enough? In 2015, a group of University of Toronto-based psychologists set out to find out.

In their study, “Sexual Frequency Predicts Greater Well-Being, But More is Not Always Better,” Amy Muise, Ulrich Schimmack, and Emily Impett revealed that there is, in fact, a precise rate of sex that, for the average couple, optimally benefits the partners’ wellbeing: once per week.

The study found that the difference in wellbeing for people in relationships who engage in sex once per week, compared with those who have sex less than once per month, was greater than the difference in wellbeing for those earning $75,000 versus those making $25,000. In other words, having sex four times as much boosted participants’ moods as much as an additional $50,000 per year would do.

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