Why do people have sex? I always thought the main reason was because, you know, it's fun. Ha! I was so wrong. Couples have sex for all kinds of reasons, but the latest study puts those reasons into four main categories. Where your own motivations for having sex fall could say a lot about how healthy your relationship is. Duh, right? Well, what if I told you a little selfishness is actually good for your relationship?
First, here the four main reasons why people have sex. And yes, of course we all have sex for a combination of reasons, usually not just one of these.
- Self-Focused Approach: To pursue a positive outcome for yourself, such as personal pleasure or to feel closer to a partner.
- Self-Focused Avoidance: To evade a negative outcome for oneself, for example, wanting to not feel guilty about saying 'no' to sex.
- Partner-Focused Approach: To achieve a positive outcome with your partner, like greater closeness or to make the partner feel good.
- Partner-Focused Avoidance: To avoid conflict with your partner and prevent him or her from feeling angry or disappointed.
Okay, so there's no surprise that "self-focused approach" sex and "partner-focused approach" sex are great for your relationship. The other two can actually be damaging. Yes, pity sex and oh-just-get-it-over-with sex can erode your marriage. It makes sense that having sex to give your partner pleasure and to feel connected are great for your relationship. But can we talk about that "self-focused approach" sex?
I know the researchers say that both men and women have sex for all four reasons. But I think women in particular tend to feel less entitled to pleasure, or even less capable of pleasure. It's ... complicated. But what if you changed the way you think about sex. What if you walked in (ehrm, or if you laid down) with the attitude that you deserved to get your rocks off, and goddammit, that's just what was going to happen -- and you had that attitude totally guilt-free, knowing it would actually help you feel more connected to your partner, inside and outside of the bedroom?
Obviously, getting to the point where sex is pleasurable may take a lot of work for some couples. It's not like you can one day decide you're going to start having orgasms and BAM, the O Fairy leaves orgasms under your pillow. But I think just making the conscious decision that pleasure should be one of your goals -- supported with the knowledge that it'll actually improve your relationship (which makes you feel kind of less selfish, really) -- could be a game changer. It's the first step on a really fun, fulfilling path.
Which of these reasons most often motivates you to have sex?
Image via Silke Woweries/Corbis