One of our biggest flaws as human beings is our constant need to compare ourselves to others. We do this in every realm of our lives. We compare our careers to those of others, we compare our friends to those of others, we compare our relationships to those of others and we even compare our sex lives to those of others. The problem is we're too concerned with the word "should." What should your career look like? Should your friends be cooler? Should your relationship be progressing faster? How often should you have sex? Well, hopefully, we are all already logical people who know that there is no real answer to any of those questions... especially the last one. That being said, we're all also complex human beings who, despite knowing this, have spent way too much time pondering the "answers" to these very questions.
A recent study just proved our answer to the how often should you have sex question literally could not be any more wrong. A research company called Ipsos is conducting an ongoing study on misperceptions that they're titling The Perils of Perception. As part of this study, The Conversation reports they asked participants how often they guessed people between the ages of 18 and 29 had sex within the past four weeks. The average estimate of all of their participants was a whopping 14 times and they were way off.
In the United Kingdom, the real number is five times. And that number is even smaller in the United States. We only have sex on average four times a month. To put that into perspective, that means that United States residents are expecting those around them to have more than triple the amount of sex they actually are. More than triple.
The Conversation hypothesizes that the reasoning behind our wildly inaccurate is we trust the, often inaccurate, estimations we hear from those around us. "Because we don’t have access to very much real-life comparative information, we turn to other 'authoritative' sources: playground or locker room chat, dubious surveys, salacious media coverage and porn," they explain. "These provide extreme examples and dodgy anecdotes that distort our views of reality."
The main takeaway here? Well, I'd like to say that it's to stop comparing yourself to others but, alas, I know that's way easier said than done. So let me give you a piece of advice that may be slightly easier to follow: Next time you inevitably catch yourself freaking out about the fact that everybody else is probably having way more sex than you (or that anybody is doing way more anything than you), take a second to remember this article.
Remember that, odds are, whatever number you've come up with in your head is totally wrong. Everyone else is, most likely, doing just as much or as little about whatever it is you're freaking out about at the current moment as you are.
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