It’s hard to believe, but Americans might be the least horny—for each other—than they’ve been in decades.
The National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, a massive study on the sex habits of thousands of people found that from 2009 to 2018, every type of partnered sexual activity declined.
Although there are plenty of health benefits to solo-masturbation, there are obvious concerns with the increasing lack of intimacy and connection between people while we all get sucked further into our smartphones.
However, new research suggests that there may be hope for getting us all to hook up again, but we have to start treating sex like a fun, relaxing activity and not a chore.
Conducted by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, the study asked 675 men and women, ages 18 to 76 about the sexual activities during the COVID pandemic—68 percent of respondents reported having a regular sexual partner and 12 percent had a casual one. The researchers defined “sex-as-leisure” as any type of sexual activity that was for recreation, relaxation, self-gratification or personal development.
Results revealed that over half of the participants thought that framing sex as a leisure activity was a helpful coping mechanism during lockdown. More than two-thirds cited sex as source of pleasure, relaxation, comfort, stress-relief, distraction, and a way to pass time.
“When sexual activity is pleasurable, freely chosen, and intrinsically motivated, it aligns with most definitions of leisure activity,” study co-author Liza Berdychevsky said in a press release.
“The sex-as-leisure mindset affects sexual inhibitions, attitudes and practices, and it is congruent with the view of sexual health as key to our overall wellbeing and quality of life.”
It might seem obvious to people who are having consistent, enjoyable sex, but for anyone who is stressed about putting themselves out there with a significant other or potential partner, shifting their perspective might help them approach sex in a less anxiety-provoking way. Sex is just one of many fun activities people do and not that big of a deal.
That said, you should still have some.
“The decline in people’s tendency to view sex as a form of leisure activity is a potentially problematic health risk factor because this perspective is positively related to all aspects of sexuality, including sexual desire, intimacy and satisfaction,” Berdychevsky added.
So if you don’t want that to happen to you, treat sex like bowling—or any other activity you don’t have to be that good at to enjoy.