Over the course of a romantic relationship, there are bound to be times when your sexual interests diverge from your partner’s interests. Perhaps you enjoy having sex at night, but your partner prefers morning sex. Maybe you desire sex about once or twice a week, but your partner would like to have sex once or twice a day. Or maybe you fantasize about being tied to the bedpost, but bondage is not one of your partner’s sexual fantasies. Although a satisfying sex life is an important part of overall relationship happiness,1,2 sex can also be one of the most challenging issues to negotiate in a romantic relationship.2 Romantic partners may disagree on when to have sex, how often to have it, and what those sexual activities involve. If romantic partners have differing sexual interests, what can they do?
Entries in sex (133)
I met my first boyfriend in a Sailor Moon chat room. For the uninitiated, Sailor Moon was a Japanese anime show that was “popular” in the late 1990s. My online alter ego, a character I named Hiko Aino (Japanese for “fire child of love”), was tall, graceful, and witty—everything that I, at the time, was decidedly not. After a few weeks of frequenting the chat room, I started a relationship with a guy whose online persona was a dog (yes, a dog, as in a canine…oh, the shame is endless). It’s probably worth mentioning I was thirteen at the time and wildly unpopular at school (given what I just shared, I can’t imagine why). But the chat room allowed me to reinvent myself, connect with others with similar interests, and—in short—escape the sad reality of middle school. And although the Sailor Moon chat room is probably long gone, other virtual worlds have sprung up in its wake. One such environment is the online community named Second Life.
Was 2012 a sexy year for you? It sure was here at ScienceOfRelationships.com. Here are the highlights of our "Year in Sex":
- Supersize Me: Does Penis Size Matter to Women?
- Getting Her There: When Are Women Most Likely To Have Orgasms?
- The Ins and Outs of Sexual Frequency
- Breaking It Off: Sex-Positive Shops and the Women’s Sex Toy Revolution
- Is Masturbation Bad For Your Health and Your Relationship?
- Monkey See, Monkey Do (and by “Do” We Mean “Have Sex”)
Have you ever read The Game1 or seen the VH1 series The Pickup Artist? Even though The Game is no longer topping the New York Times bestsellers list and The Pickup Artist has long since left the air, the pickup community is alive and well. In fact, in my hometown of Austin, Texas, there are at least three major pickup companies and dozens of independent instructors, all willing to provide (expensive) one-on-one lessons designed to teach the unlucky-at-love how to play the game. As someone who enjoys the nightlife arguably more than she should, it was only a matter of time before I stumbled across the local pickup community and, as a result, met some of the biggest names in the seduction industry (yes, I have met Neil Strauss. No, he did not make a pass at me—and no, I’m not disappointed).
Makes us wonder if this penguin is in any way related to the ScienceOfRelationships penguin. If so, we should name our penguin Muffins.
Our friend and colleague Dr. Gurit Birnbaum recently contributed to a discussion on the New York Times website on the topic of sexy Halloween costumes and fear of death. Check it out here.
We've covered Dr. Birnbaum's research in the following articles:
“Oh yeah, that’s it, right there”
“That feels good”
Moaning, groaning, and words of encouragement during sex enhance your partner’s sexual pleasure and a recent study suggests that talking during sex is also linked to your own satisfaction. People who communicate their likes and dislikes to their partners during sex are more sexually satisfied.
Talking about your sexual needs and desires is not always easy; many people feel that having sex is easier than talking about sex.
Obviously, many variables affect the decision to have or not have sexual intercourse (e.g., Are you in the “mood?” Did you have a romantic dinner? Did he remember the flowers?). Although most people probably don’t think the outcome of a political election is especially romantic, or has much effect on their libidos, recent research suggests that political elections could influence your sex life!
Last weekend, I went on a road trip with The Consultant. I was nervous, as we hadn’t been sexually intimate with each other since our first, failed attempt several weeks ago. A weekend away together pretty much guaranteed that we would try again. We have hung out a few times since that frustrating night, but I have made myself conveniently busy to give myself some time to process the new, more intimate direction of our relationship. He was patient and persistent, so when he invited me to spend the weekend away with him, I accepted.
There has been a lot of talk in the American media recently about a perhaps more “evolved” form of love in which people have open or multiple relationships—polyamory. Tanzanians have a history of this practice through polygynous practices (having multiple wives), which is rooted in the Bantu tradition. In fact, polygyny is permitted for up to 4 wives in Tanzania, with the permission of the first wife.
Everyone likes a good orgasm, right? In past articles we’ve covered topics like faking orgasms, the function of orgasms in sexual communication, orgasms stemming from nipple stimulation, and even highlighted “everything you need to know about female orgasm.” Okay, so maybe we didn’t tell you everything. There’s still more that you need to know about female orgasms, especially the answer to the question: when are women most likely to have an orgasm? And what sorts of relationships (e.g., romantic relationships versus casual sex) are most likely to yield sexual satisfaction? Is the big O a requirement for sexual satisfaction? First, let’s back up a bit and briefly review some of the common explanations for what leads to fulfilling sex.
A new set of studies reveals that the content of our sexual fantasies is influenced by feelings of relationship insecurity. In three experiments, college undergraduates were primed to feel attachment security or anxiety. To do this, participants thought about a past relationship in which they felt secure or anxious (Study 1), or they viewed a photo of a mother either gazing at her child (security) or turning her back on her child (anxiety; Studies 2 and 3). Afterward, participants were asked to report on one of their current sexual fantasies. The anxiety prime produced fantasies in which individuals viewed themselves as more distant from and hostile toward their partners compared to the fantasies described following the security prime. More specifically, the anxiety prime was linked to fantasies that involved sex without emotion or romance, as well as fantasies that involved themes of aggression. These findings suggest that when we feel insecure about our relationships, we subconsciously alter the content of our sexual fantasies as a way of protecting the self from further feelings of rejection. In other words, when we are feeling insecure, we may use our fantasies to create a psychological barrier between ourselves and our partners in order to protect our self-esteem.
To learn more about the details of this study, check out this article on The Psychology of Human Sexuality.
Birnbaum, G. E., Simpson, J. A., Weisberg, Y. J., Barnea, E., & Assulin-Simhon, Z. (in press). Is it my overactive imagination? The effects of contextually activated attachment insecurity on sexual fantasies. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.
How are adolescent boys learning about sex these days? By pointing, clicking, and streaming through a seemingly endless supply of Internet pornography. That’s right…online porn is now the default form of sex education for a growing number of young boys because they simply are not getting the information they need elsewhere. Personally, I find this prospect kind of scary. I mean, do you really want your son to learn everything he knows about sex from watching Ron Jeremy?
Many people assume that having conflict in a relationship reduces sexual desire and relationship satisfaction. Yet, conflict may also present a constructive opportunity for partners to discuss important relationship issues, or it may simply create a general sense of arousal that transforms into sexual excitement.
Recently, we reviewed research that indicates portrayals of sex in pop culture (e.g., movies, TV) influence young adults’ attitudes toward sex and “hookup” behavior. Soon-to-be-published research1 in the journal Psychological Science has more to add on the topic. Researchers surveyed over 1200 adolescents aged 12-14 throughout the U.S. by telephone and followed their sexual activity over a period of about 6 years. They found that more exposure to sex in popular movies (e.g., American Pie) at a young age (before 16) was associated with an earlier “sexual debut.” In other words, the more teens were exposed to sex in movies, the younger they were when they first started having sex.
Many people believe that living together before marriage is a good idea because it helps couples test out whether they are a good fit and ready for marriage. Is he too messy? Does he leave the toilet seat open? Is her mother too involved? Is she a neat-freak? Can we manage finances well enough together? Many think that cohabiting will teach us something important about each other that we need to know before tying the knot. It’s counterintuitive then that some research indicates the living together before marriage, particularly before engagement, is associated with higher risks for divorce.
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. But, do the benefits of being ‘giving’ and ‘game’ translate to the sexual domain of a relationship as Dan Savage would suggest?
Recently, while procrastinating on Facebook, I stumbled across a post written by one of my good friends. She was raving about how her husband completed all of the tasks on her “honey-do” list. “I have the best husband ever!” she gushed. When I asked her about it later—specifically, why she was so ecstatic that he did some simple chores—she looked at me like I had fallen off the moon. “Duh,” she said. “It shows how much he loves me.” I couldn’t help but smile (you know, the kind of smile you give when you’re about to school someone), because my colleagues and I recently put this idea to the test. And what we found might surprise you.
Rape, an all-too-common occurrence in the USA,1 was recently thrust back into the political spotlight, following the unfortunate comments of Rep. Todd Akin (R-Missouri). Akin, like many Americans (particularly those who identify as Republicans), is an avid Pro-Lifer. On Sunday August 19th 2012, Akin, who is vying for a seat in the U.S. Senate, had this to say about his opposition to abortion in the case of a rape-related pregnancy:
It seems to be, first of all, from what I understand from doctors, it’s [rape-related pregnancy] really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape [emphasis added], the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down.”
Things have been heating up with The Consultant. Ever since deciding to give him a real chance I have pleasantly discovered that we have a lot in common. I look forward to our next dates more and more, and I find myself counting the days until I get to see him again.
He recently texted me an invitation for dinner at his house. I knew what that meant. Dinner. Alone at his place. Wine. No kids. Things were clearly about to get more physical.