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Monmouth University Polling Institute

New Jersey Sex Lives

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Men report greater sexual activity, but it’s still not enough for some

There is a scene in Woody Allen's "Annie Hall" where a couple each visit their  psychiatrists and happen to be asked the same question on how often they have sex.  The man tells his therapist, "Hardly ever.  Maybe three times a week," while the woman responds to her analyst, "Constantly.  I'd say three times a week."

Well, the results of the latest Monmouth University/New Jersey Monthly Poll  show that this battle of the sexes is alive and well in New Jersey.  Just like the movie characters, sexually active men in the state are more likely than women to report they do not have sex as often as they would like.  However, the poll results strayed from the film script in that sexually active New Jersey women also report actually having sexual intercourse less frequently than men.

Among all New Jersey adults, 58% report having sexual intercourse in the past 12 months.  Men (68%) are more likely than women (50%) and adults age 18 to 49 (71%) are more likely than those age 50 and older (43%) to report being sexually active.  However, it is important to note that women (28%) and older adults (27%) are more hesitant than men (14%) and young adults (16%) even to answer the question for pollsters.

Interestingly, the poll found that the gender disparity in sexual activity disappears for those under age 50.  For New Jerseyans between 18 and 49 years old, men (74%) and women (67%) are more similar in reporting having sex in the past year.  On the other hand, among those age 50 and over, the gap widens to 61% of men versus 28% of women who are sexually active.


NJ adults:  Had sex in past year



  - Total



  - Age 18 to 49  



  - Age 50 and over  





Frequency among sexually active adults:  



  - At least once a week





  -"Not as often as I would like"





Among married New Jerseyans:  



  -Have fantasized about a one-night stand



It also helps to actually be in a relationship with someone if you want to be sexually active - 70% of married residents and 73% of those in another type of romantic relationship report having sex in the past year, compared to just 32% of New Jersey adults not in any type of ongoing relationship.

The poll asked sexually active adults how often they have sex in terms of both actual frequency and perception.  Overall, nearly 6-in-10 sexually active New Jerseyans say they have sex at least weekly.  This includes 5% who do so daily, 28% several times a week, and 25% once a week.  Another 11% say they have sex about once a month, 10% say less often, and 21% decline to answer the question.  A majority of sexually active adults (53%) report that they are satisfied with their level of sexual activity, while 29% say they do not have sex as often as they would like.  Another 6% say they probably have sex more often than they would like, and 13% give no answer to this question.

Sexually active Garden State males (67%) are more likely than females (45%) to report having sex at least once a week.  And while a majority of men (51%) and women (55%) alike report that the frequency of their current sexual activity is "just the right amount," men (35%) are more likely than women (23%) to say they are not having sex as often as they would really like.  There are no age-related differences between the sexes on these frequency questions, but it should be noted that women are somewhat more likely than men to decline to answer these questions.

Dr. Gary Lewandowski, a Monmouth University psychology professor who specializes in the study of personal relationships, commented, "The difference between men and women may be due impression management. Due to perceived social norms, men tend to inflate their self-reported sexual experience, while women may tend to under report."

 "Age-old images about sexual behavior continue to prevail in New Jersey," remarked Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.  "But the results on gender-based differences in sexual activity do raise an interesting question.  If men are indeed having sex more often than women in New Jersey, are they going out of state to do it?"

The poll also asked married respondents whether they have ever fantasized about having a one-night stand.  The results indicate that most married New Jerseyans are happy with whom they cast their lot.  Just 17% say they have had such fantasies, 59% say they have not, and 24% decline to answer.  But the poll also found that New Jersey husbands (27%) are nearly four times as likely as Garden State wives (7%) to admit to having fantasized about a one-night stand since getting married.

This poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute by telephone with 801 New Jersey adults September 27-30, 2007.  The sample has a margin of error of ± 3.5 percent.  These poll results are featured in the January 2008 issue of New Jersey Monthly  magazine.

The questions referred to in this release are as follows:

1.      Which of the following best describes you – married, living with a partner, never been married, widowed, divorced, or separated?  [IF NOT MARRIED:] Are you currently in a romantic relationship with someone?

2.      Confidentially and for statistical purposes only, have you had sexual intercourse in the past 12 months, or not?

[NOTE:  The following two questions were asked of half the sample:]

3.      [IF HAD SEX IN PAST YEAR:]  On average, how often do you have sex – every day, several times a week, about once a week, closer to once a month, or less often than that?

4.      [IF HAD SEX IN PAST YEAR:]  About how often do you have sex – probably more often than you would like, just the right amount, or not as often as you would like? 

[NOTE:  The following question was asked of married respondents only:]

5.      Since getting married, have you ever fantasized about having a one-night stand, or not?


The Monmouth University/New Jersey Monthly Poll was designed and analyzed by the Monmouth University Polling Institute research staff.  The telephone interviews were conducted by Braun Research on September 27-30, 2007 with a statewide random sample of 801 adult residents.  For results based on the total sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling has a maximum margin of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.  Sampling error increases as the sample size decreases, so statements based on various population subgroups, such as separate figures reported by gender or party identification, are subject to more error than are statements based on the total sample.  In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.

Click on pdf file link below for full methodology and results by key demographic groups.  

Download this Poll Report with all tables

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