Entries in sex (162)


Men’s and Women’s (Not So) Different Attitudes about Romance and Sex

There is a common assumption that men and women are very different and perhaps originate from different planets. Although the “males and females are fundamentally different” narrative may be the prevailing opinion, it is science’s duty to determine whether these ideas are common sense or common nonsense. The “men and women are different” idea is perhaps most pervasive with respect to individuals’ thoughts about sex and romance. Common knowledge suggests that men are hypersexual and women are more reserved, but when it comes to romance, women are much more enthusiastic than men. Findings from survey research seem to support these general assumptions.1,2 With surveys, however, participants report their own feelings, so it may be that participants feel pressure to conform to existing stereotypes. Rather than ask men and women how they consciously feel, in order to get to their true feelings, two University of New Brunswick researchers measured participants’ unfiltered feelings by tapping into their automatic responses.3 The researchers hypothesized that participants unfiltered responses may not conform to existing stereotypes.

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Sleep Tight...Will the Sex Dreams Bite?

In a previous article, I mentioned that having sex dreams is associated with feelings of love and intimacy with romantic partners on the following day. This finding begs the question: What else do we know about sex dreams? Much has been theorized (beginning with some wacky ideas from Freud1 and psychoanalysis, which I won’t go into here) but when you examine the research that has used modern scientific methods, it becomes clear that we don’t know very much. Sex dreams have been documented worldwide, but the frequency of sexual content in dreams is really tough to estimate (some early studies estimated 5-10%,2 while others peg the frequency around 80%3). In addition, some studies have found gender differences (men having more frequent sex dreams than women2), but that has not been replicated in all samples; for example, in a sample of Brazilian participants, sex dreams appeared roughly 10% of the time in both men and women.4 Some of these discrepancies in the research could be due to inconsistent frequency of dreaming in general, or less willingness to report sex dreams in some samples.

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Is No Sex the New Sex?

Humans are wired to bond. In our earliest beginnings, the key to our very survival included co-operative tribes, clans and families. Intrinsic to that system is an individual’s psychological need for attachment and close connection.1 It is no coincidence that our most tortuous punishment -- from grade school to prisons -- is social alienation. Humans don’t do well in solitary confinement, but we do thrive in loving relationships. 

In today’s high-supply sexual economy, where the price of sex has dropped to the barrel-bottom price of one well-worded text, it seems bonding has gone out of vogue. And the cultural message in the West is to take all sex, any sex, at any cost.

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How Many Women Are Going Bare “Down There?”

Editors's note: A few weeks ago we ran an article on "manscaping", and one of our fans on Facebook asked if we'd could do a similar article on female body hair removal. You asked, and Dr. Justin Lehmiller answers!

Female pubic hair removal is not a new invention. In fact, we have reason to believe that this practice originated with the ancient Egyptians and Greeks!1 However, the degree to which women have shaped their pubic hair has ebbed and flowed considerably across time and culture, and works of art and historical artifacts display variations in attitudes toward it. Today, female pubic hair removal is common, but not all women do it and there is considerable variation in the amount of hair removed, the methods used to get rid of it, and the reasons behind it.

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Sexual Compatibility: The Importance to Your Satisfaction

Folk wisdom gives us mixed-messages when it comes to compatibility. We hear phrases like "birds of a feather flock together" telling us we need to be compatible with a partner in order to be successful. Then we hear contradictory phrases like "opposites attract" telling us we need not be similar to our partner, but rather different for relational success.

Although compatibility isn't necessarily a synonym to similarity, they are certainly in the same family.

Perceived sexual compatibility is defined as the extent to which a couple perceives they share sexual beliefs, preferences, desires, and needs with their partner. Another form of sexual compatibility is the extent to which similarities exist between actual turn ons and turn offs for each partner emotionally, cognitively, and behaviorally.

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The Flavors of Female Orgasm: The Debate Continues

Long before I entered this field, sexual scientists have been debating whether there are different types of female orgasm. It began with Freud’s claim that women experienced internal or “deep” orgasms and clitoral or “surface” orgasms, and this was refuted with Kinsey’s claim that there was only one type of female orgasm. To this day, the debate continues.

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She Wants To, She Wants To Not: Predicting Women’s Casual Sex in College

We’ve highlighted a fair amount of research on casual sex (see here) and hookups (see here) over the past couple of years. Although these studies are incredibly interesting, past researchers typically have not tracked people (and their hookups) over time to identify the factors that signal if hookups are likely to occur in the future. In a new article published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior, the researchers do just that, by measuring a range of characteristics among women when they first started college and then tracking their hookups across the next eight months (i.e., their first year of college).

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More Reasons to Have Sex: Money and Health

Want to earn more money and lead a healthier life? Have more sex (correlation/causation issues aside). Not that you needed more reasons to have sex on a weekly basis, a recent study of Greek men and women found that those who reported having more sex earned higher salaries and were less likely to suffer from certain health problems. You can read more over at the Huffington Post.

Check out our articles about the psychological and physical benefits of sex here and here, respectively, and more generally about the reasons people give for having sex here.


Getting It On vs. Getting It Over With: How Reasons for Having Sex Impact Relationships (Part 2)

In a recent article, I discussed my research using fictional scenarios to show that perceptions of why someone is having sex with their partner influences how people rate that person’s sexual desire and satisfaction. In that study, people who were perceived as having sex for approach goals, such as to enhance intimacy or to feel closer to a partner, as opposed to avoidance goals, such as to avoid conflict or a partner’s disappointment, were perceived as feeling more sexual desire for their partner and being more satisfied with their sex lives and relationships. In our next study, we wanted to consider people’s actual goals for sex and how having sex for different reasons is associated with a person’s sexual and relationship quality. So, how do a person’s own reasons for having sex influence their own feelings of desire and satisfaction? 

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Is Having Sex with a Robot Considered Cheating?

Would you have sex with a robot? If your partner did, would you consider it to be cheating? According to this article on Smithsonianmag.com, 9% of people would shag a cyborg, and 42% say that robot sex counts as cheating.

Check our our articles on what counts as cheating here and here. Sadly, we don't have any articles about having sex with robots to share with you; the closest we could find is this post by SofR contributor Dr. Justin Lehmiller on his excellent site.



Getting It On vs. Getting It Over With: How Reasons for Having Sex Impact Relationships (Part 1)

Sex plays an important role in overall relationship happiness.1 But, is simply having sex enough to maintain a happy relationship? In a recent study, my colleagues and I looked at the reasons people say they have sex with their partners and how these reasons affect their feelings of desire and happiness with their sex lives and overall relationships.2 

We considered two broad categories of reasons why people have sex with their romantic partners:

  1. Approach goals: A person having sex for these reasons is focused on pursuing positive outcomes in their relationship, such as enhancing intimacy or feeling closer to a partner.
  2. Avoidance goals: A person having sex for these reasons is focused on averting negative outcomes in their relationship, such as conflict or disappointing a partner.

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Dinosaur Sex: How Did They Do It?

We consider ourselves fairly open minded around here when it comes to sex. We've even run an article about how rat's sexual behaviors suggest sex can make you smarter. But we have to admit that considering how dinosaurs had sex was expanding our horizons. Apparently the folks over at NPR are even more open minded than we are. If you're interested in how dinosaurs did it, check out The Subtle Mysteries of Dinosaur Sex by Robert Krulwich.

For a chuckle, see the cartoon we posted a while back on T-Rex's "moves."


Hooking Up During College: Are You Qualified?

If you're not careful, passive reading of all the press on the college "hook-up" culture would lead you to believe that college campuses are just big orgies. In fact, SofR's Tim Loving recently surveyed a group of 60 students and asked them how many sexual partners they think typical college students rack up during college, and the overwhelming majority assumed it was on the order of 5-10 partners! Who has time for studying?

According to a recent piece in Slate.com, however, closer inspection of the data suggests popular wisdom may be off the mark. It's a very interesting read.

Click here to see our articles on hooking up. 


What is Your and Your Partner's Sleep Style?


The Best Time of the Year for Making Babies

Someone innocently created a chart so that people could determine how common their birthday is (click here to see that chart). Then someone came along and thought, "huh, what if I shift all of those dates by 9 months?"  Thus, through the magic of the internet, there is now a chart depicting the most common dates for people to make babies.

Click here for our article about the seasons when people have the most sex (not necessarily for the purposes of procreation). 

image source: ilovecharts.tumblr.com


Sex, Lies, and...Bogus Pipelines?

Talking about one’s sexual history is an important part of new partners’ communication with each other. After all, they say that you’re not only having sex with this new person, but with everyone he or she has had sex with too (sort of a “six degrees of Kevin Bacon” game with a sexual twist). But how do you know your partner is being truthful when informing you that he or she has had three, thirteen, thirty, or three hundred past partners? People certainly have reasons for being less than honest (like you don’t want others to judge you based on your busy, or not so busy, bedroom), so when they self-report about their sexual behaviors, how do we know they are not lying? People often fudge their responses about things like how much they recycle and go to the gym because those lies make them look better, and researchers need ways to get participants to tell the truth when reporting about all sorts of “socially desirable” behaviors.

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Bring Out the Gimp: Personality & BDSM

Let’s play a quick word association game – read each word or phrase below and say the first thing that comes to mind. Here we go….

Doctor: ?

Tree: ?

Pulp: ?

The Glass is Half: ?

Bondage-Discipline, Dominance-Submission, Sadism-Masochism: ?

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What Does It Mean to “Make Sex Normal”?

While writing last week’s article about the importance of sex in relationships, I started thinking about the taboo nature of sex in North American culture. In the article I mentioned that “North America is arguably a highly sexualized culture, but at the same time, sexuality is rarely talked about in an open, honest way.” Around the time I posted my article, I came across a TED talk that presents a simple way to alter the stigma associated with talking about sex and sexuality.  

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Is Sex Allowed to Be Important in a Romantic Relationship?

A recent article in Wall Street Journal (WSJ) by Elizabeth Bernstein, How Often Should Married Couples Have Sex? What Happens When He Says 'More' and She Says 'No', created some controversy. The article focused on Chris and Afton Mower, a heterosexual couple who share the details of their previously sexless marriage. At one point in their relationship, the couple went one year without having sex. The husband, Chris, desired more sex, whereas his wife, Afton, had no interest in sex.

Over time, after communicating and reading a self-help book together, Chris and Afton revived their sexual relationship and now both report being satisfied with their sex life. In the article, Bernstein referenced our research on sexual communal strength (discussed here) to suggest that at times a person may prioritize their romantic partner’s sexual needs over their own preferences and that this focus on a partner’s needs can be beneficial (not only for the partner whose needs are being met, but also for the partner meeting the needs).1 Bernstein's article caused quite a stir in the media; a number of news outlets, including JezebelThe Week, and New York Magazine, published responses. Critics rebuked the article for what they perceived as its focus on the “man’s perspective” and questioned the depression, weight gain and emotional distress that Chris linked to his sexual rejection. Based on some of the responses, it was also controversial to suggest that a person has some responsibility in an ongoing romantic relationship to meet their partner’s sexual needs, perhaps especially when it is the male partner who desires more sex than his wife.

After reading these responses I began to wonder whether (and for whom) we allow sex to be important in a relationship.

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Who's on Top? Power and Control In and Out of the Bedroom

Is control in the bedroom related to power in the relationship?

Power dynamics are a relatively common element of sexual fantasy.1 Some individuals enjoy being sexually dominant – they derive satisfaction from exerting power or control over their sexual partners. Others enjoy being sexually submissive – they are satisfied when their sexual partners exert power over them. But the reader poses an intriguing question: do a couple’s power dynamics within the bedroom mirror their power dynamics outside the bedroom?

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