Have you, perhaps unwittingly, subscribed to the sex positivity meme that better sex means more variety and therefore less commitment? This is today’s sexual-health message, directly and indirectly. Anything less than “unrestricted sociosexuality” appears to be constipated sexuality according to one sexologist who’s often quoted in the press. Perhaps you also believe that there’s no such thing as too much masturbation. Or too much sex.

Alas, these popular theories don’t yield the contentment our sexual experts promise. Consider Dr. Osmo Kontula’s text chapter entitled, Sex Life Challenges: The Finnish Case”. Kontula is a sexologist in sexually liberated Finland.

Kontula frankly admits that no one has explained why lack of sexual desire should rise. Or why intercourse frequency should decline. Or why difficulties with orgasm should increase – all as society grows more sexually liberated.

By 2007, not long after free, streaming internet porn arrived, sexual intercourse frequency had declined by 20% among Finns. The Finnish experience mirrors a much wider trend according to research from Japan, Australia, the States and Germany.

Masturbation instead of intercourse

The Finns found that sexual activity had shifted to a significant degree from sexual intercourse to masturbation, even among couples. Sexologist Kontula appears to applaud the trend:

People have begun to emancipate themselves from their feelings-based relationships, moving from shared sex toward a more individualistic experience of sexual pleasure – masturbation or self-pleasuring. … To some extent, this is also a manifestation of a partial distancing between sex and love.

The proportion of men who always reach orgasm through intercourse dropped by 15%. And the proportion of young and middle-aged women who generally have orgasms through sexual intercourse fell. “Hence, fewer young women considered their sexual relations ‘highly enjoyable.’”

How are these outcomes ‘sex positive’? Do humans really want to continue down this road? Given the physiological and psychological benefits of relationships, why would we?

A bold question

Are we receiving our sexual health advice from people who lean in the direction of psychopathy? If that strikes you as outlandish, consider the following.

People differ in their willingness to have sex without commitment. This trait is known as sociosexuality.Unrestricted sociosexuality equates with a preference for short-term and no-strings-attached sex. But there’s a price. Research reveals that the people with less restricted sociosexuality are also less agreeable and less conscientious.

Worse yet, guess which single trait best predicts freer sociosexuality? The dark trait of higher psychopathy scores! The primary characteristics of psychopaths do not top the list of what most of us hope for in an intimate partner. They are: coldness, lack of empathy and remorse, need for continuous stimulation, inability to delay gratification, lack of long-term goals, impulsivity, and a lack of commitment.

These unappealing characteristics make so-called “short-term mating” the ideal strategy for those who tend toward psychopathy. Of course, given the benefits of intimacy and trusted companionship, do we really want to allow today’s sexual-health professionals to persuade us that psychopaths’ sexual priorities are healthy sexual priorities? The shiny wrapping of the ‘sex positive’ label does not make them so. Ever heard of gaslighting?

Unless you lean toward psychopathy, increased promiscuity isn’t the key to happiness. In recent research, the 5% most promiscuous respondents of both sexes were more likely to say they are “not too happy.” See “Promiscuous America: Smart, Secular, and Somewhat Less Happy“.

So, why do we trail after the dubious Pied Pipers like a pack of mindless rodents?

More importantly, is it time for a new, or rather very ancient, approach to sex?

You may also wish to listen to this short talk by “New Statesman” journalist Lousie Perry.