We’re all a little (understatement of the year) curious about other people’s sex lives. How much are they doing it? When are they doing it? Lay it on us: Give us the five W’s—who, what, where, when, why and, ya know what? We’ll take how too! So we created a sex survey targeting married couples to get a glimpse of what goes on behind closed (or not) doors. Our survey covered the basics—like how often couples are doing it—but we also wanted some juicier details, like what people are doing and whether they’re satisfied. And while 200 survey takers graciously shared the secrets of their bedrooms with us, it left us wondering: Are we even asking the right questions?

Because you’re mildly (understatement) curious about what those 200 people told us, obviously we’ll share our findings. Here goes:

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Who is doing the sex?

A quick glance at this fancy pie chart shows that the majority of those surveyed were in the 0-10 years married range, followed by 10-20 years. That said, we were pleasantly surprised to see even longer-term couples showing up for biz (50-plus-years couples represent!).

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How much sex?

On average, it seems the bulk of sex-having among our sample size is either once or twice a week (35 percent) and once or twice a month (32 percent). Then there’s the horndogs doing it several times a week (16 percent) and the absolute Samanthas, banging it out every damn day (2 percent). And then there’s a sizeable chunk—nearly 16 percent of folks—rarely or simply not doing it at all.

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What is the sex?

The graph speaks for itself, no? Note: Readers were allowed to check any box that applies to them, so, there was overlap.

When is the sex?

The top five time slots for sex with your spouse are 10 p.m., 9 p.m., 8 p.m., and 8 a.m. A lucky few are sneaking afternoon delights in there (thank you, remote work).

Is any of this surprising?

We could ask a million more questions, taking into account other variables like age, orientation, gender, income, education, culture—yes, yes, yes all this data might be fascinating but…even with all the variables, does this seem surprising? I nearly failed Stats 110 (don’t ask why I’m the one analyzing this data…just go with it), but this has bell-curve vibes written all over it. Was it fun to ask 200 people if they considered an open marriage or fantasized about sex outside their marriage? Yes. But the answers are mostly what you’d expect—91 percent would never consider an open marriage and 24 percent have extramarital fantasies they’d never act on.

So, what *is* surprising, then?

It’s the questions we didn’t ask. The questions, well, we don’t really know how to ask because they’re not part of the conversation. The final section of our survey left a space for people to leave a comment about anything else important they wanted to share, and the notes participants shared made me realize that the more we talk about sex as a goalpost for wellness or as a barometer of success—or failure—in a relationship, the more we feed a cultural standard that is simply outdated.

Why is it so common to think that not having frequent sex in a relationship is a moral failing? Probably because, like how we perceive beauty standards and body image, everything we see, read or hear is telling us that more sex equals more connection. And while this might be true for lots and lots of couples, it glazes over the fact that sex isn’t just between two (or more, you dirty dogs!) people. Sex starts with the individual. It’s the connection a person has with their mind and their body and then with the world around them.

And as many people pointed out in their comments, a lot of their sex lives are dictated by biology and logistics—anatomies, hormones, chemicals, physical space and children. Some emphasized that having sex with older kids around was super challenging—while many wrote that it’s younger children who are the problem. A few readers wrote in about sex-induced medical issues, like UTIs, keeping them from vaginal sex. Low sex drive from low testosterone or other hormonal changes were a common thread. One woman shared how breastfeeding and scar tissue from childbirth has changed her sex life completely. Another shared how, following a hysterectomy, sex became extremely painful. One comment read like a revelatory insight of both mind and body. She wrote how being “overtouched” all day by children makes intimate contact undesirable. It felt so specific and yet, I’m guessing, so universal. But how would I know? I didn’t ask. While I did ask who was dabbling in BDSM, swinging or butt stuff, the things that seem so carnal and exotic—here I am thinking about all the caretakers who want to be loved and understood, but are ultimately untouched at the end of a long day.

So what questions should we be asking about sex? I’m not sure. But I do suspect that it starts with the questions you ask your partner and questions you ask yourself.

That said, if it’s orgasms you’re after, survey says 32 percent of readers have invested in a vibrator.

Thank you to the readers who participated in our married sex survey! If you would like more updates on similar types of reader surveys and relationship stories, subscribe to our PureWow newsletters.

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