People who are into bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, sadism, and masochism (or BDSM for short) experience a lot of stigma. For one thing, they are often seen as psychologically disturbed, despite research showing that BDSM practitioners appear to be just as psychologically healthy as everyone else. For another, many people—including a lot of mental health professionals—question whether you can practice BDSM and still have a healthy relationship. In fact, in one survey of therapists, fully one-third of them reported being unsure of whether someone into BDSM could carry on a functional relationship .Read More
In an episode of the classic television series Sex and the City, Carrie Bradshaw discovers that a guy she's seeing has dated both men and women. Uncomfortable with the thought of taking things further, she confides to her friends: “You know, I did the ‘date a bisexual guy’ thing in college, but in the end they all ended up with men…I’m not even sure bisexuality exists. I think it’s just a layover on the way to gaytown.”
Carrie expressed a belief that a lot of people in the real world hold, too—that all bisexual men are secretly gay and just aren’t quite ready to come out. However, the stereotype that all bisexual men are gays in disguise is, like Sex and the City, pure fiction (see here and here for scientific evidence that bisexuality is a distinct sexual orientation). That said, it turns out that there is some truth to the idea that bisexuality sometimes serves as a transitional sexual identity.Read More
There’s a common assumption that monogamous relationships are superior to consensually non-monogamous relationships in virtually all ways. In fact, studies have found that monogamous relationships are thought to be better in terms of promoting closeness, trust, intimacy, companionship, and communication . However, the presumed benefits don’t stop there—monogamous relationships are assumed to be more sexually satisfying, too, because it’s presumed that people who open their relationships are only doing so because they’re unhappy in some way.
So is it really the case that monogamists necessarily have better sex lives and relationships overall compared to those who are in consensually non-monogamous relationships? Do the stereotypes reflect reality? Let’s take a look at the research.Read More
How many different reasons are there to have sex? At least 237, according to one study. However, that study was primarily based on young college students, which begs the question of how people’s sexual motivations might differ based on age. It’s also reasonable to wonder whether men and women experience similar or different changes in their reasons for having sex as they get older, too.Read More
There’s a lot of research out there looking at how many people have cheated, their reasons for cheating, and what “counts” as cheating; however, surprisingly little work has looked at who people are actually having sex with when they commit infidelity. Is it usually with someone they know, or with a stranger? And does this differ for men and women? A new study published in the Journal of Family Psychology offers some answers.Read More
Are Americans today more or less likely to cheat on their spouses than they were in the past? And how have their attitudes toward infidelity changed—have they become more or less tolerant of this behavior? A recent study published in the Journal of Family Psychology offers some insight into these questions.Read More
Most people have sex at least once in their lives. For example, in a longitudinal study of over 20,000 American adolescents who were surveyed repeatedly over a 15-year period, just 3% of them reported never having had vaginal, anal, or oral sex at any point. However, just because someone does it once, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they will remain sexually active throughout their lives.
For a variety of reasons, many people go through long periods of sexlessness, and a new study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior offers some insight into just how common this is.Read More
People fantasize about having sex in a wide range of settings, but cars are one of the most popular. As some evidence of this, I surveyed more than four thousand Americans about their sexual fantasies for my forthcoming book Tell Me What You Want and found that the vast majority (77%) said they'd fantasized about sex in motor vehicles. Moreover, about 1 in 5 people who took the survey said they had fantasies about this often.
Clearly, cars represent an appealing place to have sex. A lot of people seem to be acting on their car sex fantasies, too.Read More
It’s easy to find articles in the popular media talking about how porn ruins relationships. Many scientific studies have made this claim, too. However, there’s a problematic assumption embedded in most of these writings, which is that porn affects all people the same way. That’s not a very good assumption to make.
When it comes to something like porn, different people are going to be affected by it in different ways because of their unique psychological profile. Some of us are predisposed to view porn (and its effects) in a negative light, whereas others are predisposed to view it in a positive light. A new study published in the Journal of Sex Research offers support for this nuanced view of the effects of porn on relationships.Read More
Why do people who start a family decide it’s time to stop having children? A new set of studies published in the journal Marriage and Family Review identifies 4 primary factors that motivate people to stop procreating (incidentally, this study also identified the main reasons people decide to start having children in the first place, which you can learn more about in this post).Read More
Few aspects of genital anatomy have sparked as much scientific debate as the so-called G-spot (also known as the Grafenberg spot). Some researchers have argued that it is a distinct anatomic site, claiming to have found definitive evidence for its existence, whereas others have argued that the evidence behind such claims is far from convincing.Read More
People tend to think about sexual orientation in terms of a small number of distinct categories—most commonly, straight, bisexual, and gay. Those who subscribe to this view expect that everyone will fit neatly into one of these three boxes. However, others argue that sexual orientation is far more complex and is best viewed along a continuum or spectrum. The idea of a sexual orientation spectrum can be traced back to Alfred Kinsey, whose Kinsey Scale allowed for seven degrees of heterosexuality and homosexuality:Read More
If you're reading this, odds are that you love learning about the latest sex research. But really, who doesn't? Have you ever wanted to go beyond reading about it, though, perhaps by taking part in an actual sex study (or two)? If so, check out the Sex Studies page, which is updated regularly with calls for participation from sex scientists across the globe. Ten studies have already been added since the beginning of this year alone!Read More
One of the most popular stereotypes of male sexuality is that men want sex all of the time because they're just "wired" that way. In other words, sex is seen as a largely biological function for men, with their emotional and psychological states having little to do with it. This stereotype can be harmful because it can make a guy start to wonder what's wrong with him when he doesn't want sex but his partner does--and to the extent that this becomes a chronic source of concern, it can create performance anxiety and detract from his ability to become and stay aroused in the future. This is but one of the many reasons why it's important for us to rethink our assumptions about male sexuality.Read More
Having children obviously takes a lot of work—and a lot of money. It really is an enormous sacrifice in so many ways. So why do so many of us do it? What motivates us to give up so much in order to have kids? A new set of studies published in the journal Marriage and Family Review identifies 15 distinct motivations behind procreation.Read More
When comparing the number of women who say they’ve been sexually assaulted to the number of men who admit to perpetrating sexual assault, the numbers are highly discrepant. In fact, the number of self-identified female victims is about three times higher than the number of admitted male perpetrators. So why is that? Is it because a small number of men are committing a large number of sexual assaults? Or is it because men are underreporting their sexually aggressive behaviors? A recent study published in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence offers some support for the latter explanation.Read More
Incest, usually defined as sex between close blood relatives, is one of the most pervasive sexual taboos across cultures. Many different theories have been advanced to explain this taboo, but perhaps the most common is that we evolved to avoid incestuous relations because inbreeding increases the odds of health problems in any offspring produced.
So just how risky is incest anyway?Read More
Some people are turned on by thought of watching their partner have sex with someone else. This fantasy goes by many names, but it is often referred to as cuckolding or cuckqueaning, depending on whether the person watching is male or female. Cuckolding appears to be an increasingly common sexual interest. In fact, Google searches for it have been on the rise across the last decade. It’s also worth noting that cuckolding is consistently one of the top search terms used on the world’s most popular porn sites .
So what do we know about cuckolding anyway?Read More
What keeps passion alive in a long-term relationship? According to a recent study of nearly 40,000 adults (all of whom were heterosexual and currently in romantic relationships), there were five key differences between people who said they were able to keep the passion going and those who weren’t. People who kept the spark alive were more likely to (1) spend time setting the mood, (2) practice sexual communication, (3) receive oral sex, (4) be happier with their relationship in general, and (5) engage in more acts of sexual variety.
While there’s a lot to be said about each of these factors, I want to focus on just one of them in this post—the role of sexual variety.Read More
I recently returned from the Sexuality Pre-Conference, held just prior to the annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology in Atlanta, Georgia. I had the chance to see an incredible set of talks and what I’d like to do in this post is briefly walk you through four of the most interesting things I learned by attending this meeting.Read More