POLL: American Sex Survey

Attitudinally, 65 percent of young adults say homosexuality is OK for some people, and 71 percent of young adults condone premarital sex (peaking, as noted, at 76 percent of young singles). Seniors are least likely, by far, to agree.

By Age
  Discuss fantasies     "Adventurous" Premarital Sex OK Homosexuality OK
18-29 71% 55 71 65
30-39 55 46 66 55
40-49 49 41 69 55
50-64 37 29 60 56
65+ 22 19 30 40

Discussing Fantasies: A Thing of Youth
Age Discussed fantasies
18-29 71%
30-39 55
40-49 49
50-64 37
65+ 22

Young adults (again, single and committed alike) also are more apt to have had rebound sex (33 percent, compared with 19 percent of their elders). And 16 percent have had "revenge sex," that is, "just to get back at someone else" -- double the rate among older adults.

One thing young adults surely have is stamina: Adults 30 and older have a median estimate of 45 minutes spent having sex, including foreplay; among those under age 30, it's a median of 60 minutes.

Older singles (age 30 and up), for their part, are much less likely to be involved in a sexual relationship (29 percent) and much less satisfied with their sex lives. As noted above, older single men are more likely to have cheated on a spouse or partner; and three in 10 of them have paid for sex. Older single men report a lifetime median of 12 sex partners (and an average of 34), the highest for any group; older single women, by contrast, report a median of four partners (and an average of eight).

There's one other notable finding about single men: Regardless of age, 28 percent of them say they've had sex in a threesome, double the rate for all adults.

There also are some ways in which late middle-agers stand out: Among adults age 50 to 64, 22 percent have cheated on their partner, more than in any other age group. Twenty-six percent of men in this age group have paid for sex. And most of the small group of men who report very large numbers of sex partners fall into this age category.

The Spark

There is clear evidence in this survey that sex loses its spark over time. Among couples who've been together less than three years, 58 percent call their sex lives very exciting. At more than 10 years, only half as many, 29 percent, say so.

Similarly, 79 percent of new couples are "very" satisfied with their sex lives, compared with 52 percent of long-term couples. And 87 percent of new couples enjoy sex "a great deal"; among long-term couples it's 17 points lower.

Not surprisingly, frequency of sex drops as well -- at least several times a week for 72 percent of new couples, but just for 32 percent of long-term couples.

The Spark: Sex Lives of Marrieds
  Married < 3 years Married > 10 years
Have sex at least several times a week 72% 32
Sex life very exciting 58 29
Enjoy sex a great deal 87 70

Adventurousness can be a firestarter. People who call themselves adventurous sexually are 10 points more apt to be very satisfied with their sex lives, 20 points more apt to enjoy sex a great deal and nearly 30 points more apt to call their sex lives very exciting. They're also much more likely to have sex at least several times a week -- 62 percent of the adventurous do so, compared with 36 percent of sexual traditionalists.

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