The Law Of Diminishing Orgasms And Other Economic Aspects Of Your Sex Life

The Law Of Diminishing Orgasms And Other Economic Aspects Of Your Sex Life

Sex. You want more of it--in theory.

But after running from meeting to client lunch to after-work Pilates to the grocery store and home, you’re too tired to even think about sex, much less actually do the deed. So, when your honey curls up next to you in bed and starts kissing your neck, you might call upon that handy feigned headache or pretend to be asleep.

It’s a common scenario among career-driven couples and those with kids. But according to the authors of a new book, it’s not necessarily an issue of sex drive. You can use simple economic principles to put a little jump kick into your sex life.

The Law of Diminishing Orgasms

As couples get busier and take on more responsibility at work and home, the “cost” of sex increases, which means the amount of sex decreases, something Paula Szuchman and Jenny Anderson, coauthors of Spousonomics: Using Economics to Master Love, Marriage, and Dirty Dishes, call The Law of Diminishing Orgasms.

Frequency of sex is not necessarily an issue of sex drive. It can be tweaked with simple supply and demand economics.

Szuchman and Anderson surveyed over a thousand people in committed relationships and found that more than half wished they were having more sex. In addition, more sex is a good thing--sex is good for your physical and emotional health, and there is a major correlation between a healthy sex life and a strong relationship.

Their solutions?

Lower The "Cost" Of Sex

The more something costs in terms of time and energy expenditure, the less likely we want to do it. If your time and energy are scarce, sex can be seen as a trade off (or opportunity cost) for running errands, getting work done, or sleep.

Lower the “cost” of sex by sacrificing quality for quantity. Instead of requiring every sexual encounter to involve candlelit dinners and massage oils, consider quickies in the morning, squeezing in one-offs during kids' naptimes, etc. Try to create more time in your life so that sex does not have to be a trade off for other critical activities like sleeping and eating--but better yet, make sex one of those critical activities. Make sure you do it, often.

“There’s definitely something to said for quality,” admits Szuchman. “But what we’re addressing is a quantity issue. Our theory is it’s better to have a lot of quick sex than infrequent amazing sex.”

Create a Transparent Market

Another strategy is to create a transparent market, that is, one where your partner knows when you're in the mood instead of making him or her guess. To borrow another economics term, “signaling” with a mutually understood gesture or ritual can alert your partner when you’re ready to go and avoid coordination failures.

For example, to use a couple profiled in the book, Seth had a huge libido and Monica a much more modest one. He was always initiating, she always declining--he felt rejected and frustrated, she felt guilty and anxious. While there is certainly a mismatched libido issue here, there is also coordination failure (or not "syncing up" about when to have sex). This can be costly because the initiation and rejection cycle can be emotionally draining and upsetting for both, and that makes the "cost" of sex higher.

“Signaling is a really basic economic concept,” says Szuchman. “One couple we spoke with schedules sex in their BlackBerry. Or it could be the simple signal that she’s naked when she gets into bed.” Other examples of signals can be pouring a glass of wine before bedtime, or a foot rub.

Resource Allocation

“The whole theme of Spousonomics is resource allocation,” concludes Szuchman. “A lot of the problem in marriage is resource allocation. Time and energy are already limited. The last thing you want to do is use those limited resources to argue about sex instead of having sex. Anything you can to make it more affordable is going to up the frequency.”


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