Does Life Have Meaning Without Sex?


Growing up I was influenced by Chinese culture, which is unabashedly money-obsessed, and I was repeatedly told by my parents that earning cash was one of the most important things in life. As a kid, I loved writing, the arts, and TV and movies; but my family steered me away from my passions because they didn't believe they would be lucrative endeavors for me.

This value contrasted with those typically* found in the Midwest where I grew up, which seemed to place an emphasis on simple joys.

As I matured and ventured out on my own as an adult, I became obsessed with the concept of happiness. Was money the key to happiness? Was fame? Was relationships? I've realized that all aspects combine to create a full picture, but one component that is often not talked about is sexual pleasure.

One doesn't just have to be a hedonist to value sex. Psychologist Todd Kashdan at George Mason University said that sex is actually an important aspect of a person's well-being. In North America, sexuality is suppressed and shunned due to our Puritanical origins, but Kashdan and his team found that sex increases our meaning in life, Psychology Today reports. 

Kashdan studied sex and its meaning by recruiting 152 college students who disclosed personal details such as their relationship status, intimacy levels, and how long they stay in relationships. Each night before sleeping, the students answered a series of questions about the meaning of life and sexual activity, and from their answers, Kashdan saw a correlation between positive moods and sexual activity.

Kashdan saw correlation but not causation, and although it is unclear the exact relationship between happiness and sex, the study shows that having sex and being happy usually occur at the same time.

"In other words, the time-lagged analysis suggests that having sex leads to a positive mood and a sense of fulfillment that continues into the next day. This finding is consistent with other studies which have found that the “afterglow” of sex extends for a day or two after the act. The researchers don’t deny the likelihood that happy, fulfilled people have more sex. Rather, they simply contend that it’s sexual activity that makes people happy and fulfilled, not that their happiness and fulfillment leads them to have more sex," Psychology Today wrote.