Sex & Relationships

Scientific Study Reminds Us of the Deep Truth About One-Night Stands

New research shows that long-term relationships offer better sex than casual hookups—but you knew that.

Photo Credit: YuriyZhuravov / Shutterstock

In 2014 the Pew Research Center reported that 27 percent of the couples surveyed said the internet has had an impact on their relationship. Since then the internet has become so integral to everyday life that it’s embedded within our culture and relationships. The rise of the internet has sped up the life cycle of relationships and ultimately affects dating and other forms of intimate behavior. New research, shared in a Salon exclusive, shows current American and European trends in the progression of intimate relationships. 

A team of researchers at DrEd.com surveyed 2,000 participants to determine contemporary sexual tendencies and preferences. The survey examined criteria from the length of time that couples wait to have sex and the frequency of sex based on relationship length to sexual satisfaction and which partner is more likely to make his or her lover climax.

The survey found — in not shocking news — that 64 percent of the men surveyed said they climax during a one-night stand, while only 11 percent of the women reported the same. Women were found to climax more consistently with a long-term partner, while men claimed to plateau with a stable partner.

Many factors, of course, contribute to sexual satisfaction. One factor noted in the survey was lighting. Although some research suggests bright lights can enhance men’s enjoyment, single survey respondents comprised the only group to prefer having sex with the lights on.

Another factor that is heavily influencing bedroom behavior is alcohol. The survey found that 48 percent of men in new relationships prefer drunk sex to sober sex. As times goes on, couples were less likely to need alcohol to lower their sexual inhibitions except in the case of women who had been married for 11 years or longer.

The survey found that sexual satisfaction wanes for women during the first year of a new relationship. Among female respondents, 74 percent who were in the first six months of a new relationship reported being sexually satisfied. The percentage was only 47 percent for those within the six-month to one-year period of a relationship. But there’s some good news! Sexual satisfaction for women in long-term relationships was as high as 56 percent.

Waning sexual satisfaction is often a contributing factor to infidelity. The survey found that partners are more likely to cheat as a relationship progresses and sexual satisfaction either plateaus or declines. Men were seen to cheat more often than women at the early points in a relationship. But for those in long-term relationships, a higher percentage of women respondents reported cheating than male survey participants.

This survey surprised me because I expected things to be a little more bleak. More and more news reports showcase the dystopia we live in, and it would make sense that relationships would begin to crumble alongside our faith in democracy. But the opposite seems to be true.

Despite the technological distractions and the joke our government has become, relationships — love — can still be seen flourishing. Maybe it’s not exactly in evolutionary terms, but hey, it’s progress.

Erin Coulehan is a freelance journalist with work in Rolling Stone, Elle, Slate and others. Follow her on Twitter @miss_coulehan.

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