For heterosexual couples, just making sure that both partners reach orgasm during vaginal intercourse can be difficult. Achieving orgasm at the exact same moment (i.e., “simultaneous orgasm”)? That’s even more of a challenge. Why? Because the typical motion of penile thrusting does not seem to provide adequate sexual stimulation for many women. In fact, only about half of women report being able to climax from penile movements alone during sex and, even among those women, many of them report that they do not experience orgasm reliably.1 As a result, many women find that adding clitoral stimulation to intercourse (e.g., with the use of one’s hand or a vibrator) or attempting different sexual activities is necessary to help them climax. However, it turns out that you may not need to do these other things if you can better align your own and your partner’s genitals during sex.
Entries in sex (146)
Hopefully, you and your partner have a great sex life. For those of you who are satisfied with life between the sheets, you may still have ideas on how to make your sexual life better. And expressing your needs, wants, and desires can enhance your sex life.1
Yet, many intimate partners say that talking about sex can be difficult; it is a conversation that is laced with vulnerability. You may wonder, is my performance good enough? Is my partner satisfied? Even if sexual satisfaction is high, you may want to explore new sexual activities with your partner. Despite the legitimacy of such questions and conversation topics, individuals often avoid talking about sex because they don’t want to hurt their partners by providing not-so-favorable feedback or otherwise noting a partner’s sexual limitations. Fear of rejection or being judged keep individuals from bringing up the subject, too. My suggestion is that you take the plunge and have the conversation anyway; talking about sex could benefit your relationship in ways that far outweigh the risks associated with having such conversations.
Research suggests that men tend to surrender to sexual temptations, like cheating, more than women. Is this because men have stronger sexual urges, or because they can’t control themselves? Across two studies, participants indicated the strength of their sexual impulses and their ability to control themselves when encountering “forbidden” others (e.g., being attracted to someone already in a relationship). Men acted on inappropriate attraction more than women, and this occurred because men had stronger sexual impulses, rather than men being less able to exert self-control. Men’s higher sex drive, therefore, might lend insight into why they engage in certain behaviors.
Tidwell, N. D., & Eastwick, P. W. (2013). Sex differences in succumbing to sexual temptations: A function of impulse or control? Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 39, 1620-1633. doi: 10.1177/0146167213499614
American parents often worry that their adolescent children are susceptible to their friends’ influence and will be pressured into having sex before they are ready to do so. Are these worries justified?
Past research has found that social influence is associated with behaviors such as smoking and alcohol use among teenagers. A recent study extended this work and investigated whether three types of social influence predict adolescent sexual behavior...
Are you satisfied with “vanilla” sex? Or do you seek the thrill of kink in the bedroom with your own list of “hard limits?”
In order to be sexually satisfied, you might think that you and your partner need to be on the same page of Fifty Shades of Grey. Aside from the intrinsic motivation to have a good sex life (i.e., good sex feels really, well, good), research has strongly established that sexual satisfaction is closely tied to relationship satisfaction.1 In longitudinal studies where couples are followed over time, sexual satisfaction also predicts, such that less sexual satisfaction is tied to an increased chance of divorce.2 So, when it comes to relationship health, sex matters.
We know that the frequency of sexual activity, the quality of communication during sex, and partners’ reasons for having sex can all influence relationship satisfaction. So while it’s good to embrace the throes of passion and be vocal about it, does what you say after sex matter?
Intimate conversations that occur between romantic partners after sexual activity are commonly referred to as “pillow talk.” Pillow talk often involves disclosing positive sentiments such as validation and affection, but it can also be negative (e.g., arguing or bringing up complaints). Researcher Amanda Denes at the University of California, Santa Barbara aimed to address the broad question, “Is pillow talk merely obligatory chit-chat, or might it say something more about the relationships of those involved?”
Are you a sexual person? (This is not a trick question.) Let me ask it a different way: What kind of sexual person are you? Or, put another way, why do you enjoy sex?
A recently published paper1 including data from 18 different samples (from Israel and America) suggests that there is a lot of variability in how people experience sex based on something called the “sexual behavioral system.” Basically, this is the system that your mind constructs so that you can navigate sexual feelings, attitudes, and experiences. The overall result of the study was that 2 new personality variables emerged, which can help explain how the sexual behavioral system operates.
Although the discussion of fake orgasms dates back at least 100 years,1 the diner scene in the 1989 classic movie When Harry Met Sally and a 1993 episode of Seinfeld, brought the discussion of fake orgasms into the mainstream, where it has generally remained for the last three decades. Following this discussion, research on fake orgasms has suggested that upwards of one-half to two-thirds of women have faked it.2 But, despite how common faking orgasms may be, very little empirical research has attempted to understand why heterosexual women choose to (or choose not) fake orgasm. Until now.
Researchers asked more than 1000 U.S. married couples about their desired and actual sexual frequency. Spouses who weren’t getting as much sex as they desired were less satisfied and thought about ending their marriages more often, had less positive communication with their partners, and reported more conflict. Similarly, the spouses of sexually unfulfilled individuals reported these same negative outcomes (i.e., if you aren’t getting the sex you desire, your partner is less satisfied etc.). While these effects are likely reciprocal, getting the sex you want is associated with better relationship quality for both you and your partner.
What do you do after sex? If you don’t already, our new research suggests that you may want to spend a little extra time cuddling up with your partner. Across two studies, spending more time being affectionate with your partner after sex -- above and beyond the time spent engaging in sex itself -- was linked to feeling more satisfied with your sex life and overall relationship.1
In the first study, involving 335 participants (138 men and 197 women, all of whom were in romantic relationships and 90% of whom were heterosexual), people who reported a longer duration of after-sex affection were more satisfied with their sex lives and in turn, happier with their overall relationships. Although people varied in how long they reported cuddling after sex, the average amount of time spent being affection after sex was 15 minutes. Interestingly, duration of after-sex affection was even more important for sexual and relationship satisfaction than duration of sex and foreplay!
Intimacy and passion are two key components of a high-quality relationship. But to what extent are intimacy and passion intertwined? In a recent study, couples reported on their feelings of intimacy (e.g., how much they self-disclosed and felt close to one another) and passion in their relationships each day for three weeks. They also noted whether they had sex each day and if that sex was satisfying. Increases in intimacy over time were associated with higher passion, as well as more frequent and better sex.
Rubin, H., & Campbell, L. (2012). Day-to-day changes in intimacy predict heightened relationship passion, sexual occurrence, and sexual satisfaction: A dyadic diary analysis. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 3, 224-231.
One of the sad truths about dating is that sometimes you get dumped, and when you do, you’re probably going to be pretty pissed at your ex. If you want to get back at them for making the worst mistake of their lives, jumping into bed with someone else will surely teach them a lesson, right? Or if your breakup simply has you feeling blue, maybe you think that hooking up with someone else will help you feel better, at least for a little while.
My friend Monika recently shared a concern that her sex play with her boyfriend has been spilling over into other areas of her life. Several months ago, her boyfriend requested that she take on a sadistic, dominatrix-like role in their sexual relationship. Sadomasochism (S&M) involves using bondage, spanking, and other types of dominating sexual play, with the sadist being the dominant partner and the masochist being on the receiving end. At first, she was uncomfortable with the request because it was not something she had ever done before. However, after playing things out a little bit, she found the role quite exciting and empowering—her boyfriend also clearly enjoyed their sexual experiences. Now their sexual practices nearly always involve S&M, with her boyfriend getting off being the consenting recipient of (non-injurious) pain during their sexual experiences.1 Although Monika is more comfortable with assuming a dominating role than she used to be, she is not as sexually satisfied as she once was.
The Sex Lives of College Students, by Sandra L. Caron, Ph.D., presents the results of a human sexuality survey administered over the past two decades to thousands of college students ages 18-80. Responses by 4,683 college students between the ages of 18-22 are compiled in the book. The more than 100-question survey has been administered during the first week of every human sexuality class at the University of Maine since 1990. The undergraduate class has a capacity enrollment of 350 students and regular waiting lists. In 2010, several new questions were added and refined to address the latest issues and trends, including the use of social media to facilitate relationships and use of morning-after pills.
The book is not the be-all and end-all survey on the sex lives of college students. It is not representative of a cross-section of all college students across the country, but it does give us a glimpse of a student sample from a mid-size public research university. Indeed, it is a unique perspective informed by a 20-year data set. The data facilitate the tracking of trends and comparison of changes in attitudes and behaviors. Because of its longevity, the survey includes not only the views of today’s college students, but also those of their parents, including some who may have sat in the same lecture hall taking the course in human sexuality.
The goal is to survey college students’ attitudes and behaviors at the start of the course. And while many of the students enrolled in the course are majoring in the social sciences, the students represent every college and major at the university. This book presents results over the past two decades from 1990 to today. It highlights findings on college students’ sexual behaviors, sexual attitudes, parental influence, safer sex/HIV, the difficult side of sex, and newer data. Below are 10 things that have changed sexually over the last two decade for college students:
Everyone knows that Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love, and you’d probably assume that couples end up expressing their love (or lust) for each other in ways other than giving gifts. In fact, the #1 gift that men want to receive for Valentine’s Day wasn’t really a traditional “gift” at all: it was sex (read more about the top-ranked gifts here).
We asked over 1,000 Americans (learn more about survey here) if couples should expect to have sex on Valentine’s Day, and if so, if that sex should be better than average (i.e., “extra special Valentine’s Day sex”) or if it would be the “typical” sex that the couple normally has. Overall, 36% of people expected to have better sex than usual, 27% thought they’d have typical sex (if you’re bad at math, this means that almost 2 out of every 3 respondents expected couples to have sex on Valentine’s Day), and 37% didn’t think that sex should be expected on Valentine’s Day.
Katherine submitted the following question:
I have always wondered about research behind the topic of being friends with benefits (with strict rules of no kissing, no hugging, just sex, and only sex), and if they have the same benefits as sex within a committed relationship based off of love and trust, instead of lust?
Thanks for this great question! It sounds to me like what you’re really asking is whether sex between “friends with benefits” is as good as the sex that two people in a committed romantic relationship might have. I recently published a study in the Journal of Sex Research that addressed this exact question.1 We recruited nearly 400 men and women over the Internet who either had a current “friend with benefits” or a romantic partner. All participants completed a survey that asked how sexually satisfied they were in their relationship and how much they communicated with their partner about a variety of sexual topics.
Commitment, the big “C-word” in relationships, is defined as feeling connected to your partner, wanting your relationship to succeed, and thinking about your long-term future together. Although there are downsides to commitment (see here for an example), commitment is associated with lots of good outcomes...