Is the chocolate really that good in France?
A new Harris Interactive poll reveals that French women believe food — specifically chocolate — is the key to happiness, while French men choose sex as the surest bet.
Asked to rank the elements of well-being on a scale of 0 to 10, the men rated sex at 7.5, while women gave it a 6.7. French women also said they'd rather cut back on sex than food, while men chose the opposite.
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What gives? Surely it can't be that French men are giving their partners a so-so time in the bedroom. Can it?
"A lot of people have just lowered their expectations around sex," says Ian Kerner, who writes a "Sex and You" column for CNN and frequently contributes sex and relationship advice on NBC's "Today" show. "So many people have gotten accustomed to being in sex ruts or not having sex. The prospect of sex with their partner just doesn't light them up, or they figure the best sex they're going to have is somewhat mediocre."
Chocolate, on the other hand … rarely mediocre.
Still, poll aside, if we're truly intent in improving our happiness and well-being, should we aim for better sex or better food?
"The couples I work with who regularly have sex are healthier overall," says Kerner, who works with individuals and couples at the New York-based Institute for Contemporary Psychotherapy. "There is a lot of research looking at the long-term benefits of healthy, regular sex both on your mind and on your body."
And on your relationship.
"Studies show the major difference between successful marriages and marriages that fail is that successful marriages have a higher ratio of positive-to-negative interactions overall," Kerner says. "I like to think that sex is a giant boost of positive. People want to feel alive and connected and have that piece of themselves tended to and recognized and cultivated."
That's a tall order for chocolate.
"People break up every day over their sex lives," Kerner says. "I have yet to see anybody who's breaking up over chocolate."