Does Jealousy Mean More Sex for Heterosexual Couples?

One woman and three men meet for coffeeJealousy can be a painful and even fatal emotion, but according to one new study, it may also help spice things up in the bedroom. According to research published in the Journal of Comparative Psychology, when heterosexual men are jealous of their partner’s male friends, couples have more sex.

Couples Have More Sex When Women Have Male Friends

It’s notoriously difficult to find out how frequently people have sex, but research suggests that many couples have much less sex than cultural norms tell them they should have. One study of more than 20,000 found that only 26% of couples have sex once per week. To explore how jealousy might affect sexual frequency, researchers relied on self-reported survey data from 393 heterosexual men in long-term relationships. The average couple had been together for 36 months. Researchers asked questions about the men’s partner’s social lives, the men’s experience of jealousy, and the frequency with which the couple had sex.

Survey results revealed that couples had more sex when the woman had more male coworkers and friends, but only when the man believed his partner was attractive to these potential male rivals. This jealousy, researchers believe, encourages men to initiate more sex with their partners.

Perceived Sexual Rivals Inspire Jealousy

The study’s authors didn’t investigate why men were more likely to have sex with their partners when those partners evoked feelings of jealousy. They speculate this may be due to what evolutionary psychologists term “sperm competition” that occurs when sperm from two or more males “compete” to impregnate a female. This phenomenon is not uncommon among nonhuman males. The researchers argue that men who perceive their partners’ male coworkers or friends as sexual rivals may be more likely to initiate sex so that their partners are not impregnated by another man. However, the study did not test fertility, pregnancy, or sperm competition.

The study also did not evaluate the role women played in the initiation of sex, so we don’t know what their role may be in this phenomenon. They study’s authors suggest that further research is necessary to validate their findings and to explore potential causes.


  1. Montgomery, H. (n.d.). How often do ‘normal’ couples have sex? Retrieved from
  2. Pham, M. N., Shackelford, T. K., Holden, C. J., Zeigler-Hill, V., Hummel, A., & Memmering, S. L. (2014). Partner attractiveness moderates the relationship between number of sexual rivals and in-pair copulation frequency in humans. Journal of Comparative Psychology, 128(3), 328-331.

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  • Whitney

    December 14th, 2014 at 5:19 AM

    I will admit that I am sort of the jealous sort, so when my honey can home all talking about the new girl in the office and how great she was and yadayadayada, well that just made me want to show him even more why thinking about her would be a horrible mistake. Let’s just say that our sex life hadn’t been that good in a long time!

  • susanne

    December 15th, 2014 at 3:58 AM

    I am guessing that it can go both ways. It can either build resentment and cause some couples to shut down or you could be like Whitney and use this as a reason to show your man why he would never want to leave you.

  • Jonah

    December 15th, 2014 at 10:47 AM

    Yes! And why not? Sex is the perfect way to show your mate that you are not ready nor are you willing to give up on him or her for another person who may have caught their eye. You have to work at always letting your partner know that you are still available and interested because if they think that you have strayed in your mind, then the love could already be gone.

  • Kaye

    December 16th, 2014 at 3:55 AM

    maybe it is all about the people with friends are more well rounded and have a better sense of what they want out of a relationship?

  • SyD

    December 26th, 2014 at 8:30 AM

    How is it that all of these people are having more sex and my girlfriend when she gets jealous only seems to withhold?

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