But the fear of a “sex recession” is misdirected. A drop in sexual encounters from 62 to 54 times per year means that the average adult is still having sex more than once a week. Current research suggests that having sex more than once a week does not have any positive impact on relationship satisfaction. Less than once a week can bring down satisfaction, but more sex does not necessarily improve it. According to Carlson, “the amount of sex is a weak predictor of how satisfied you are with your sex life.” In other words, not only are the concepts of quality and quantity distinct, but there is little relationship between the two variables.
Julian acknowledges that the recession metaphor is imperfect. “Most people need jobs; that’s not the case with relationships and sex,” she writes. Nonetheless, sex is a critical factor in the health of any relationship. Recent research backs this up. In 2017, the psychologist Anik Debrot and her colleagues found that “sexual activity promotes affection, which in turn, promotes well-being.”
The real problem with this argument is that it is a mistake to conflate sexual frequency with sexual satisfaction. Identifying the decrease in sexual frequency as a “sex recession” implies that more sex is always better.