This Is 40ish: Sex & Love

#ThisIs40ish

Sex & Love

Who’s getting busy (and how often), what we are (and are not) willing to tell our partners and whether marriage is forever anymore.

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40 percent of women have sex at least once a week.

The Nitty-Gritty
  • Once a day4%
  • A few times a week18%
  • Once a week18%
  • At least once a month27%
  • Every few months12%
  • Once a year5%
  • Not at all16%

63 percent report a mismatched sex drive in their relationships. Of them, 71 percent want less sex than their partner.

We ask

Does a woman’s sex drive naturally wane?

“It is not the case that those experiencing a lack of interest are all menopausal women. In fact, there’s some data that show it’s less a problem for older women than for younger women, who are busy being a parent, working, volunteering in the community, multi-tasking. But I’m always struck by what people perceive as ‘normal’ in terms of frequency. In reality, people are not having sex four or five days a week. If you have one or two or three great encounters a month, fantastic! Don’t get caught up on poor-quality sex happening four times a week.” — Dr. Lori Brotto, professor of gynecology at University of British Columbia

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41 percent suspect other couples have more sex than they do.

39 percent have watched pornography to spice up their sex lives. What about other strategies for spiciness?

The Nitty-Gritty
  • Lingerie49%
  • Sex toys48%
  • Porn39%
  • Getting busy in unusual places33%
  • Roleplay13%
  • BDSM9%
  • Threesomes8%
  • Other (like making a sex tape)2%
  • Have done nothing at all26%

41 percent never, ever watch porn. And 63 percent aren’t convinced it’s morally acceptable to do so.

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60 percent of partnered women fantasize about being single again.

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51 percent of single women love the freedom. But 21 percent often feel like their lives are on hold.

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49 percent of respondents say Justin Trudeau is attractive. We asked a few more women what they think.

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40 percent say having kids diminished the amount of sex they have. 13 percent said it killed their sex lives altogether.

53 percent have faked an orgasm. (Yes, that means 47 percent say they’ve never faked one. Yes, we’re suspicious too.)

We ask

Are we really becoming less likely to fake it?

“As we’ve become more open about women’s pleasure, we’ve also started to think of a woman’s orgasm as the natural end of a sexual encounter. But in many cases, satisfaction and orgasm are not the same thing: Women report feeling perfectly satisfied with the sex they’ve had even without an orgasm. As we get more comfortable with the idea that satisfaction takes many forms, there might not be as much pressure on women to have an orgasm, and so they won’t feel like they need to fake it in order to make their partners feel good or bring an end to the encounter.” — Sarah Barmak, author of Closer: Notes from the Orgasmic Frontier of Female Sexuality

23 percent don’t masturbate. What about the rest?

The Nitty-Gritty
  • Once a day3%
  • A few times a week17%
  • Once a week12%
  • A few times a month27%
  • Once a month13%
  • A few times a year19%
  • Once a year1%
  • Less than once a year8%
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25 percent say they’ve cheated on a partner. And 76 percent of them kept that bit of information to themselves.

We ask

Should we fess up to an affair?

“The majority of couples who have experienced affairs stay together. But some of them will merely survive, and others will be able to turn a crisis into an opportunity – they’ll be able to turn this into a generative experience…Now that the affair is exposed, [the deceived partners] no longer have to uphold the status quo that may not have been working for them that well either. I’ve noticed that a lot of couples in the immediate aftermath of an affair – because of this new disorder that may lead to a new order – will have depths of conversations with honesty and openness that they haven’t had in decades. Partners who were sexually indifferent find themselves suddenly so lustfully voracious that they don’t know where it’s coming from. Something about the fear of loss will rekindle desire and make way for an entirely new kind of truth.” — Esther Perel, couples therapist and author of Mating in Captivity, from a 2015 TED Talk

Is marriage forever? 70 percent say yes; 30 percent think it’s for “the foreseeable future.”

We ask

Do we care all that much about marriage anymore?

Few celebrity sound bites have drawn more ire than “conscious uncoupling,” that New Agey term Gwyneth Paltrow used to frame her 2014 split from Chris Martin. Even Paltrow later rejected the divorce mantra as “goofy.” But her emphasis on enlightened co-parenting spoke to a broader cultural pivot toward friendly divorce for the sake of the modern family’s star players: kids.

The role of children as tiny, soccer-practising overlords is a relatively new phenomenon — for eons, they were treated more like chattel, at least until turn-of-the-20th-century child-labour laws put an end to that racket. “Kids became these vulnerable, priceless creatures rather than economic assets in the family,” said Jennifer Senior, author of 2014’s All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood, to NPR host Terry Gross in February 2014. “And ever since then, steadily and surely, they have become these exalted creatures at the centre of our lives.”

It’s an exaltation we once reserved for marriage, a rite that conveniently used to max out with our 50-year lifespans. But this is an age when Canada’s divorce rate is nearly a coin toss (41 percent), and Chatelaine’s own results reveal that a healthy share of women surveyed view the marriage contract as for now, not forever. So who are we to judge when a marriage ends? Well, increasingly, we aren’t: 86 percent of respondents say they rarely or never scorn people who get divorced. And more and more, the institution itself isn’t considered a necessary precursor to children: 89 percent of our respondents rarely or never judge parents who have kids out of wedlock.

Not much lasts forever, so it makes sense that parenting can now exist separately from marriage. Our kids remain, as Senior puts it, “the last binding obligation in a culture that asks for almost no other permanent commitments at all.” — Katie Underwood

52 percent say they never lie to their partners. What do the rest of them lie about?

The Nitty-Gritty
  • Money60%
  • Sex23%
  • Their partner’s fashion sense25%
  • Their relationship history23%
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69 percent have never sent a nude photo or sext.

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