London - We may think everyone else is having more sex than we are – but we’d be wrong. It seems we make love only about a third as often as we imagine, a study shows.
While we expect those in their late teens and 20s to have sex around 15 times a month, the true figure is only five times, according to an Ipsos Mori survey for King’s College London.
"There are a lot of misperceptions around sex, with people believing the old myth that men think about it every seven seconds and that women can have sex whenever they want. This is not quite the reality," said Bobby Duffy, a visiting senior research fellow at KCL.
Men, in particular, overestimate the amount of sex women have. They believe the average middle-aged woman will have had 17 partners, when the number they admit to is eight.
Duffy – whose book, The Perils Of Perception, is published next month – said: "The evidence also shows that men over-report their number of sexual partners, partly because they count them less carefully, but also because they bump their number up a bit, while women tweak theirs down.
"Sex happens behind closed doors so we don’t really know how often people are doing it and base our assumptions on gossip, other people’s exaggerations and programmes like Love Island. Our brains are naturally drawn to the extreme examples we hear about, and we generalise from those.
"Studies show we have been having less sex over the last decade or two, which has been linked to social media and 24-hour entertainment… bringing any number of distractions into the bedroom."