“I don’t know. I feel like my emotions weren’t all out of control like this before I started messing with him.”
My girl and I were getting ready to go out and were doing our routing glam and gab. She was telling me about the new guy she was dating and how things had started to fall apart. It wasn’t so much that their relationship had changed- it was her emotions. Hearing her speak, I couldn’t help wondering if she was right.
This week, it turns out that others are debating this very question. In this week’s New York Times, conservative columnist Ross Douthat advocated the need for monogamy among American youth. Douthat writes that young adults who participated in abstinence programs were
“…more likely to save themselves for somebody, which in turn increases the odds that their adult sexual lives will be a source of joy rather than sorrow.”
Douthat cites the work of sociologists, Mark Regnerus and Jeremy Uecker who studied premarital sex in the US. As they conducted interviews, the pair found that there was
“…significant correlation between sexual restraint and emotional well-being, between monogamy and happiness — and between promiscuity and depression.”
But what exactly is the correlation?
That was the question Andrew Oswald, a behavioral science professor at the University of Warwick, asked in 2004. His study was the first to examine the link between happiness and sex. Oswald’s finding was so simple it caught many off-guard:
“the happiness-maximizing number of sexual partners in the previous year is 1.”
Translation: in the year that he conducted interviews across America, the happiest people Oswald found were those who had only slept with one person. And while his study has been used by many to defend monogamy, Oswald says that the number 1 can have many different stories behind it.
“As a statistician and behavioral scientist, there is no compelling reason to think that larger numbers of sexual partners are truly ‘causing’ less happiness. If you have found the right person in life, you are content and cheery. I find Ms. Right; she makes me happy; I then don’t need to look for any other sexual partners.”
I think that as women we often relate sex to our happiness for better or for worse. It is either something that lets us touch happiness or it is what pulls joy out of our hands. Freak numbers or body counts aren’t what our emotions depend on. As it turns out, the real downer isn’t the sex we have, but the searching we all have to do.
Tell us what you think Clutchettes: is there a correlation between sex and depression?