For the past few years, CivicScience has studied the romantic relationships and sex lives of American adults. Recent data show that the majority of peoples’ sex lives have remained stagnant, if not worsened since the last time data was examined, but the data is nuanced. Lockdowns and more time at home could mean partnerships flourish or flounder, and it’s not just about sex (or is it?).
New data reveal that roughly a quarter of American adults say their sex lives are better now than they were prior to the pandemic, while the majority of adults say theirs is about the same.
An identical percentage of adults (23%) report being more satisfied with their romantic relationship than they were in the pre-Covid era. In fact, the numbers are lined up across the three answers in the two surveys.
Further data illustrates just how close the two align. Among those who say they are more satisfied with their relationship now, more than 9 in 10 respondents report their current sex life is at least the same, and roughly half (49%) say it’s better.
When it comes to the data, self-reported sex life improvement and happiness in a partnership feel somewhat synonymous. But as the data below show, it’s not necessarily that simple.
Taking a step back, adults under age 30 are the most likely to report a better sex life, quite jarringly so. Those aged 30 to 44 are the most likely to report a worse sex life compared to their counterparts.
However, when it comes to relationship satisfaction overall, the shape of the data look similar when cutting by age, but it’s still a different narrative. While younger adults under age 30 are the most likely to report a better sex life, they’re the most likely to report being less satisfied overall in their current relationship.
Examining the data by marital status, unmarried adults are much more likely to report improved sex lives than those who are married. This is likely a proxy for age. Married people are the least likely to say their sex lives have improved, and by and large things have remained status quo in the bedroom for these folks. Again we see that things are a bit different when it comes to data on overall relationships: a quarter of those who are married report they are more satisfied with their relationship now, even though less than that say they have a better sex life.
There have been many strains on families and relationships over the past two years, and they only continue. From at-home learning, to loss of jobs, to having someone in your residence coming down with COVID, not to mention the ever growing issue of rising prices for everyday goods, the list goes on as do the stressors on a partnership or family unit. But how is this all impacting sex and relationship satisfaction?
Interestingly, those who report they know someone who has had COVID, either inside of their household or otherwise, are the most likely to report they have a better sex life and a better relationship compared to before the pandemic. In addition to being a proxy for age, perhaps part of this is a ‘new lease on life’ mentality.
Parents are less likely than non-parents to report more satisfaction with their relationship and sex life. With the many stresses of pandemic parenting, this comes as no surprise.
More Money, More Sex
Many people in the U.S. have fared well financially due to the pandemic, while a growing number have fared worse. Strikingly, those who are better off financially report the same levels of relationship satisfaction and sex life improvement, which is not entirely surprising. The highest percentage of people who report being less satisfied with their relationship is among those who report being financially worse off at 28%.
While much of the data lines up across the cross-tabulations of the two surveys, looking at job status is an outlier.
-Those working at an office or physical location are less likely to report a better sex life, while those remote (37%) or without work at all (44%) are much more likely to be satisfied in this area.
-On the flip side, those who are working in a physical location — as well as those who are working remotely — are the most likely to report improved relationships. It’s worth noting that those who are working in a physical office are the least likely to report their relationship has worsened.
Better Sex Means More Happiness, Right?
Not necessarily. In another outlier, those who report a better sex life are the most likely to say they’re unhappy. Yes, you read that right. In terms of relationship satisfaction, those who are more satisfied with their partner report the highest amount of happiness at 63%.
Usage of Sex Toys
CivicScience has studied the pandemic’s impact on the usage of sex toys since 2020. Things have fluctuated a bit. While the figure of those reporting they’re using sex toys more due to the pandemic increased in 2021, the figure has gone down, with a higher percentage of people reporting they are using them the same amount or less.
However, the bigger story: sex toy usage in general has nearly doubled since 2020.
Additionally, the data tell an interesting story: those who report using sex toys more are the most likely to say their sex life has improved since the pre-COVID era.
Breaking Up in a Pandemic
Some things came to an end in the past couple of years. The added stress of the pandemic could put additional strain on relationships. Twenty percent of those who were in a relationship prior to the pandemic say theirs ended since the pandemic started.
More than 60% of these people report being divorced.
Asking respondents about the frequency of the sex they are having, we saw only slight changes since last January when the surveys were pulsed. In the recent data, about 60% of the adult population reports having sex at least a few times a month. Roughly a quarter say they rarely or never have sex, however this figure has decreased a bit since last year (26% now compared to 29%).
In conclusion, it’s clear that while a minority of the population report a better sex life in the post-pandemic era, for many, a good relationship may be about much more than that. CivicScience will continue to track this topic as the pandemic (and years) go on.