There are a host of reasons why people have sex. What’s more interesting is how those sexual motivations impact sexual intimacy and relationships. Research has linked more and better sex to happier lives, so how do people judge which reasons will lead to those ends? Two studies at the University of Toronto set out to make some practical connections.
Married and dating couples agreed to journal their thoughts after every sexual encounter over the course of several weeks. Partners relayed their motivations for sex, level of desire, and emotions concerning their relationships. As it turned out, the studies revealed why a person pursues sex, and how their partner perceives that pursuit, greatly impacts relational intimacy.
Researchers connected this positive feeling to study participants whose responses reflected a motivation to have sex in hopes of a closer connection with their partners. This group was named Approach. This group experienced sex in holistic, cumulative ways. Here, sexual goals were hopeful, expectant, and partner-focused; both partners felt increased desire and satisfaction for a long period of time, sensing the benefits of a mutually positive experience and good feelings about the relationship as a whole. Dr. Amy Muise, lead researcher, noted, “If I am having sex more for approach goals, it increases my desire and satisfaction, so my partner probably senses that and it contributes to their outcome. Our satisfaction carries over to them.”
The second group of respondents to the Toronto study was categorized as the Avoidance group. These people generally sought sex as means to prevent guilt, conflict, or other negative feelings. This group did not experience the same long-term, feel-good responses.
Applied to everyday life, we know that our sexual motivation fluctuates from one day to the next. Sometimes we are focused outward; sometimes we just want what we want. But generally, it can’t hurt to understand the impact and benefit of connecting in a multidimensional, communicative, and mutual way through sex. Both partners, in a positive sexual relationship create a favorable, respectful backdrop for plentiful sex and a happier life.
Read the full article by Dr. Barb DePree author of Yes You Can: Dr. Barb’s Recipe for Lifelong Intimacy here: For-all-the-right-reasons/
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