When couples have a whole house at their disposal, their romantic possibilities multiply. Many experts suggest spontaneity and experimentation is key to sustaining romance, and having sex outside the bedroom can inject a healthy dose of excitement. But how many cohabiting and married couples really make use of the other rooms in their home for this amorous purpose? Do partners typically keep sex contained in the master suite or seek alternate spots for their romantic rendezvous?
We put these questions to more than 1,000 people currently living with their significant other. Surveying this cohort, we studied specifically where intimacy takes place outside the bedroom and how parents navigate the need for privacy differently than do couples without kids. We also studied which sex positions yielded the most satisfaction and which inspired intercourse in other rooms most often. Here’s a closer look at how couples are pushing the boundaries of their sex lives beyond the bedroom.
Locations for love
When asked which alternatives to the bedroom they’d personally explored, more than 96% of respondents said they had had sex in the living room. There’s an obvious explanation for this being such a popular spot: couches, chairs, and rugs are rather conducive to physical comfort, and who of us hasn’t Netflixed and chilled? The presence of a bed or couch could also explain the large percentage of respondents who say they have been intimate with their partner in a guest bedroom or den—these rooms may provide an exciting change of venue but also sufficient furnishing to avoid awkwardness or injury.
Bathrooms, however, were the second most popular site for sex in the home: with more than 4 out of 5 participants reporting bathroom sex. (But let’s be honest, it’s not the safest place to have sex outside the bedroom, so here are a few tips.) At the other end of the spectrum, some of the least popular areas for romance included other cramped spaces, such as attics and closets. Additionally, relatively few people attempted to make love in their home’s more public spots, including the front yard and backyard, ostensibly due to respect for their neighbors.
Parents’ need for privacy
Bringing sex outside the bedroom inject a new excitement, but couples still appreciate and even need some degree of privacy. Our findings suggest parents may find their options more limited outside the bedroom, as they, thankfully, seek moments of romance away from their children. Parents report having sex most often behind closed doors: in the bathroom, guest bedroom, or home office. There were some exceptions to this trend, however: the garage and backyard were among the more common sex locations for parents as well.
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Nonparents say they have sex more frequently in virtually every room compared to couples with children. This finding resonates with recent research suggesting obligations of modern childrearing detract from intimacy between parents. Unlike parents, nonparents take particular advantage of their homes’ central spaces, finding romance most often in the living room, den, and kitchen. (No word on whether food was involved.) This group even engaged in sex on the stairs with some frequency. Perhaps intimacy escalated while they were en route to the bedroom.
The benefits of going beyond the bedroom
It’s no secret that exploring new possibilities with one’s partner can lead to greater satisfaction in both love and life. But our findings demonstrate dramatic disparities between individuals who make love only in the bedroom and those who try intimacy elsewhere. First, those who are intimate only outside of the bedroom report having sex nearly twice as often as those who did not, though it’s difficult to discern exactly why: Are couples with active sex lives more likely to explore, or does taking sex outside the master bedroom inspire additional intimacy? Either way, sex beyond the confines of the bedroom seems positively correlated with passion.
In addition to having more sex, couples who went beyond their bedroom were far more likely to be satisfied with their sex lives. More than 4 out 5 respondents who have sex outside the bedroom say they were at least somewhat satisfied with their sex lives, whereas just 62.2% of the bedroom-only group said the same. Rates for relationship satisfaction followed this pattern as well: Those who had sex outside the bedroom were 10.5% more likely to report satisfaction in their relationships.
Best position by room
When it comes to alternative options for intimacy, each room presents its own possibilities—and challenges. To help out those who are interested in venturing outside the bedroom, we studied which rooms produced the most satisfaction for our participants by sex position. For many of the most common positions, the living room and guest bedroom occupied the top two spots. Their order varied, however: For the spooning and cowgirl positions, the living room was the most satisfying spot, whereas 69 and missionary seemed better suited to the guest bedroom.
For a couple positions, though, the bathroom ranked among the most satisfying locations. This was the case for the standing position, for which the bathroom earned first place overall. In all likelihood, this finding reflects the logistics of shower sex. The kitchen ranked second in satisfaction for standing, which is probably best—no buns on the stove, please.
Using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, we collected responses from 1,048 people who were in a relationship and living with their significant other. 46.7% of participants were men, and 53.3% were women. Participants ranged in age from 18 to 80, with a mean of 35.1 and a standard deviation of 9.9. Any person that was not in a relationship and living with their significant other was excluded.
The data we are presenting relies on self reporting. There are many issues with self reported data. These issues include, but are not limited to: selective memory, telescoping, attribution, and exaggeration.
No statistical testing was performed, so the claims listed above are based on means alone. As such, this content is purely exploratory and future research should approach this topic in a more rigorous way.