We Have Sex For Different Reasons, and They're All Fine


Some couples have sex to become more intimate with their partner, and some couples have sex so they don’t feel guilty about not having sex. Guess who’s happier.

Two University of Toronto studies published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin have divided both the most common reasons why people have sex and the ones most relevant to long-term relationships into two categories of motivation: approach and avoidance.

Approach motives pursue a positive outcome. (“I want to increase intimacy with my spouse” or “I want to feel closer to my partner.”) Avoidance motives aim to evade a negative outcome. (“I want to avoid conflict” or “I don’t want to feel guilty.”)

In both studies, 108 heterosexual dating couples completed daily surveys for two weeks. When they had sex, they answered 26 questions about their motives. Examples: “To prevent my partner from becoming upset” or “To feel better about myself.” They also rated their daily relationship satisfaction, sexual satisfaction, and desire.

The results: On days when a person’s motivation to have sex is more positively oriented, he or she felt more satisfied—both in the relationship and sexually—and had a higher level of desire. Conversely, on days when someone was motivated to have sex by more negative goals, he or she felt less satisfied and less desire.

I guess in an ideal world, we would only have sex because we want to relieve sexual tension, we’re attracted to our partner, and we want to strengthen our bond. However, many of us have sex for a variety of other reasons, and not all of them make that sex — or the feelings generated by that sex — crappy.

However, if you’re looking to increase intimacy with your LTR, and you’re having sex to avoid talking about other shit, it’s probably a good idea to start talking about that other shit. I know, that sounds so basic, but it’s definitely a problem I’ve had before. Plus, talking about sex usually leads to good sex and then it’s like WIN WIN WIN HOWLING AT THE MOON Awooooooooooooooooooooo. (Sorry, but you get it.)


Shutterstock/Dewayne Flowers

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