July 2, 2012 at 9:27 AM ET
Would you rather have sex or eat an ooey, gooey, decadent chocolate cake?
If you’d go with the latter, you wouldn’t be alone. TODAY.com teamed up with dating site Match.com to survey 4,000 singles for our Love Bites: Dating and Dining survey – and the results we found were quite surprising.
Turns out, food plays a bigger role in most sex lives than we could have known – and not in the fun, cover-each-other-in-melted-cheese kind of way. About 32 percent of singles say that if forced to choose, they’d rather give up sex for a year than their favorite food. More women would take that path to satisfaction, with 39 percent choosing food over sex, while only 16 percent of single men would do the same.
And it’s not just singles (some of whom could be down on their luck in the bedroom anyway); of an additional 3,500 respondents in committed relationships, 28 percent say they’d nosh over getting naughty. (A scrumptious dessert, after all, is almost guaranteed to give you a happy ending.)
The top foods that people would choose over sex were chocolate (26 percent) and steak (25 percent). Also popular were pizza, cookies or other baked goods, ice cream, chips, various Italian dishes and lobster.
Among some of the odder dishes that people prized over orgasms: Caprese salad, fresh fruit, sushi, gummy candy and pancakes.
(OK, pancakes and sushi, sure. But fruit? Over sex?)
Jordan, a 28-year-old single man who declined to give his last name, said he'd have trouble making a decision between sex and his favorite food, cheese, but said that choosing cheese would be palatable if watching porn was still allowed.
One survey respondent said they'd pick any food over sex, because "it's not at all important to me." Well, that's more than depressing – it may be a sign you should having better food and better sex.
Sex therapist and “She Comes First” author Ian Kerner explains that quality could indeed be the issue.
"People often say things like they'd pick money or sleep or food over sex," he said. "I think this shows that people take sex for granted, or that they're not enjoying sex enough to really value it appropriately."
It's also important to make sure that bad food choices aren't what's killing your libido, he pointed out. A poor diet can make you feel sluggish and, well, not in the mood. "Hopefully people are picking foods that will contribute to healthy sex," he added, "and not take away from it."
Still, the options respondents chose aren’t particularly bad sex substitutes. Who doesn’t feel comforted by chocolate, which has been shown to help release mood-lifting endorphins (which are also released during an orgasm)? And steak is high in tyrosine, an amino acid that encourages the brain to release feel-good dopamine.
Luckily, you'll probably never be in some kind of hypothetical situation where you have to choose between food and sex, so there's no reason you can't have both.
"In my personal opinion, there's nothing like a great meal to follow great sex,” said Kerner. "But if you find yourself picking food over sex, perhaps you need to approach sex a bit more like food and vary your diet."
If you want to increase your chances of having steady sex, it’s also a good idea to be a little adventurous in your dining choices. According to the survey, 66 percent of singles are turned off by picky eaters, and 35 percent are turned off by someone who lacks knowledge about food.
The good news is that you don’t have to be a chef to keep your date hooked – 93 percent of respondents said they’d prefer someone who’s bad in the kitchen to someone who’s bad in the bedroom, and 82 percent say they’d continue to date someone who refused to cook.
For more delicious nuggets of information from our Love Bites survey, check back throughout the week!
Julieanne Smolinski is a TODAY.com contributor. She loves sushi too, but come on.