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?
Entries in sex (154)
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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?
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
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.
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….
The Glass is Half: ?
Bondage-Discipline, Dominance-Submission, Sadism-Masochism: ?
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.
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 Jezebel, The 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.
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?
A new study by Science of Relationships contributor Dr. Amy Muise and colleagues on keeping the sexual spark alive in long-term relationships was recently published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.
If I asked you to list the qualities that make for a good sexual partner, what would you say? Maybe you would want a lover who focuses on your sexual needs, someone who understands your feelings, or perhaps a lover who is sexually skilled and confident in his or her abilities. These different ideas about what makes a good sexual partner suggest that narcissism could either be linked to greater sexual satisfaction (a lover who is confident in his or her sexual skills) or a lower quality sex life (a selfish lover).
In previous posts (see here, here, and here), we have discussed why narcissists tend to be poor romantic partners (they are self-absorbed, low in empathy and more likely to cheat on their partners), but what about the sex lives of narcissistic people?
What if you were sitting at a café, the park, or a beer garden (the latter being where you’re most likely to find me) and someone you’ve never met before approached you. Doesn’t seem too bad at this point, right? Now, what if this stranger then attempted to solicit casual sex from you? What would you say?
A good friend of mine (who is 7 months pregnant) told me recently that she is concerned about her sex drive. I recalled that my sex drive dropped to almost zero when I was pregnant with both of my boys, so I assumed that this might be the case for her. Surprisingly, my friend’s experience was quite the opposite: she wanted it all the time. When her husband couldn’t help her out (and he was generally happy to do so), she felt compelled to masturbate. She was worried something might be wrong with her.
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.
In a previous post, I critiqued the recently-released report of the “Singles in America” survey. The report is the third annual attempt of Match.com to perpetuate the myth that what single people care about, more than anything else, is becoming unsingle. The company pretends to don the mantle of science, and gets lots of media attention, so it is important to take the report apart claim by claim, rather than just dismissing it out of hand.
The Huffington Post took the press release from Match.com and turned it into a slide show with the title, 10 things you didn’t know about single people. The 10 things included such topics as sexting, sex, more sex, snooping in a partner’s Facebook or email account, hiding things online, dating, and more dating.
Real single people live bigger, more interesting, and more meaningful lives than those very circumscribed topics would suggest. So here, in tribute to the real lives of single people, are 10 meaningful things you might want to know about them.
According to a recent study published in Psychological Science,1 teenagers who wait longer to have sex experience different kinds of romantic relationships later in life compared to teens that start having sex earlier. This 15-year longitudinal study (beginning in 1994 and concluding in 2009) tracked teenagers’ sexual activity and long-term relationships into their late 20s/early 30s. Those teens that had sex before age 15 (23%) were considered “early” sexual bloomers. Most teens (60%) had sex for the first time between the ages of 15 and 19, which scientists consider normal for American teenagers (thus, “on time”), and 16% of teens reported having sex for the first time after age 19, and were labeled “late” sexual bloomers (8% of the sample did not report having sex at all in their lives).