When it comes to having sex with a potential love interest, many singles wonder: How do I measure up in the bedroom?
Being good at sex isn't as complicated as people often think, according to the annual Singles in America survey, funded by Dallas-based dating service Match and conducted by Research Now.
Eighty-three percent of singles, regardless of sexual orientation, ranked a caring and enthusiastic partner as the top two indicators of good sex. Other ingredients that lead to good sex are communication, a good kisser and someone who helps them achieve orgasm, according to the survey.
“We have focused too much on sexual novelty, but you should never abandon the basics," says Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist and chief scientific adviser to Match, who helped develop the representative survey of more than 5,000 singles. "Anyone can learn that good sex is attainable.”
The study found that singles also have definite turnoffs, including too much talking, no passion, little movement, bad kissing and ultimately not saying "I love you."
And when it comes to bad sex, women aren't willing to wait for things to get better, according to the study. The survey found that while the majority of singles believe sex improves after a few sexual encounters with someone, women are 70% less tolerant of bad sex than men.
Emily deAyala, an AASECT Certified Sex Therapist at REVIVE Therapy & Healing, said that's good news for women on multiple levels.
"I think we are finally entering into a new era when women feel sexually empowered," she said. "They no longer rely on men to take care of them financially, and I think in general not just in the bedroom, they are less likely to stick around for bad sex or a bad relationship, because they don’t have to."
And when it comes to the best age for good sex, knocking boots only gets better as you age, according to the survey.
The survey found that the best age for sex in women is 66 and men is 64. A common misconception is that younger people are having better sex, deAyala said.
She notes that some research shows people over 50 and 60 report higher levels of sexual satisfaction than others.
"Feeling comfortable with your body is a part of it, but older individuals also are more likely to speak up about what they like and dislike, which is a skill that is crucial for great sex," deAyala said.
She added: "The older we get, usually the more comfortable we are in our own skin, and know who we are and what we like. When you're younger, you are still figuring it out."
Are we hanging out or dating?
The survey found that many singles find their dates online, with only 14% meeting through friends and 6% at the bar. While people are finding potential love interests online, dating doesn't look quite like it used to, the survey suggests.
Forty percent of singles report casually dating or hanging out with a few people. Fifty-five percent of singles report having a "friends with benefits" situation, where they can have sex with someone who will keep their tryst private. But while things may be more casual than before, 69% of singles reported that they're looking for a serious relationship.
Although the majority of singles are ready for something serious, the survey found that only 44% reported going on a first date in the past year. While it may seem like the first date is dead, Fisher said people aren't going on as many first dates because they're "hanging out" or in "friends with benefits" situations long before there's a first date.
She notes that before online dating, a first date was often the first time two people met. It served as a sort of "looksy," or a chance to feel someone out.
"The first date has more meaning than it did, so people are treading more carefully because it many times means the beginning of true courtship," Fisher said.
Other findings from the survey:
*Robogasms: Thirty-one percent of single men said they would have sex with a robot, while only 15% of women said they were open to robo-sex. Nearly half of singles consider sex with a robot as cheating.
*Political party affiliations aren't as big of a deal: Tensions have cooled following the 2016 election, and the majority of singles (72% of men and 71% of women) are open to dating people of different political parties. Only 10% of singles said being a Republican was a deal breaker, and only 5% said being a Democrat was a no-go.