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Are You GGG? The Benefits of Sexual Communal Strength

GGG is a term coined by sex columnist Dan Savage to represent the qualities that he thinks make a good sexual partner. GGG stands for 'good, giving, and game.’ Think 'good in bed,' 'giving of equal time and equal pleasure,' and 'game for anything—within reason.'" We know from previous research that people who are more motivated to respond to their partner’s needs (high in communal strength) report higher relationship satisfaction and feel more intrinsic joy after making a sacrifice for their partner.1 But, do the benefits of being ‘giving’ and ‘game’ translate to the sexual domain of a relationship as Dan Savage would suggest?

In a recent study, my colleagues and I explored whether being motivated to meet your partner’s sexual needs is good for yourself.2 We termed this motivation sexual communal strength - the desire or willingness to meet a partner’s sexual needs, even when different from your own preferences. When we asked people what this meant to them, they included several examples including: having sex with your partner when not entirely in the mood, pursuing sexual activities that your partner enjoys even if they are not your favorite, and taking strides to understand and meet your partner’s sexual fantasies. Here are a few items we used to measure people’s levels of sexual communal strength (rated 0=not at all, 4=extremely):

  • How far would you be willing to go to meet your partner's sexual needs?
  • How high a priority for you is meeting the sexual needs of your partner?
  • How likely are you to sacrifice your own needs to meet the sexual needs of your partner?
  • How happy do you feel when satisfying your partner's sexual needs?

In a sample of long-term couples (together for 11 years on average), we found people who were higher in sexual communal strength also reported higher levels of daily sexual desire and were more likely to maintain their desire over time. People who began the study with high sexual communal strength maintained desire over a 4-month period, whereas those who started off low in sexual communal strength had declined sexual desire.2

So Dan Savage may be right – there are benefits to being GGG. The motivation to meet a partner’s sexual needs can be good for the self and can help keep the spark alive in long-term relationships.

(note: Amy was recently interviewed by Dan Savage about this research. Check out that conversation!)

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1Kogan, A., Impett, E., Oveis, C. Hui, B., Gordon, A. Keltner, D. (2010). When giving feels good: The intrinsic benefits of sacrifice in romantic relationships for the communally motivated. Psychological Science, 21, 1918-1924.

2Muise, A., Impett, E. A., Kogan, A., & Desmarais, S. (in press). Keeping the spark alive: Being motivated to meet a partner’s sexual needs sustains sexual desire in long-term romantic relationships. Social Psychological and Personality Science.

Dr. Amy Muise - Sex Musings | Science of Relationships articles | Website/CV
Dr. Muise’s research focuses on sexuality, including the role of sexual motives in maintaining sexual desire in long-term relationships, and sexual well-being. She also studies the relational effects of new media, such as how technology influences dating scripts and the experience of jealousy.

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Reader Comments (1)

While I agree with all of this, I think something that's oft-neglected in Dan's GGG conversations (and something that he brings up himself) is that its important to also be selfISH in bed.

Not selfish as in "neglectful of your partners needs", but selfish in the sense of "I know what gets me off, I'm willing and able to communicate my needs in the moment" and "my pleasure is important to me".

I've been in situations where both people have been SO GGG that neither one wants to say "well, what I really enjoy is XYZ", preferring to stay in the "i'll do whatever you enjoy because i am a giving lover" camp.

One without the other doesn't work, I think.

January 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJeremy Meyers
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