How many people are lesbian, gay, or bisexual (LGB)? For one answer, check out the infographic below, which summarizes recent data from Britain's National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles. As you'll see, the researchers asked about sexual orientation in three different ways: sexual identity, sexual attraction, and sexual behavior--and each one yielded quite different numbers. It might be tempting to think that people's responses to these questions would line up, but they don't for several reasons including the fact that sexuality can be fluid and some people with same-sex attractions are uncomfortable with them and choose not to identify as a sexual minority.Read More
A lot of people claim to have had experiences with the phenomenon of “love at first sight.” But is it really possible to fall in love with someone instantaneously? Believe it or not, social scientists really haven’t bothered to test this idea until now. A new set of studies published in the journal Personal Relationships suggests that people who report having fallen in love at first sight probably weren’t actually in love. Truth be told, they were probably in lust instead.Read More
Pornhub recently released their annual year-in-review of users’ viewing habits and, as usual, the results were fascinating. Among other things, they reported an average of 81 million site visitors per day in 2017, each of whom stayed for an average of 9 minutes and 59 seconds. Also, users uploaded more than 4 million videos—so many, in fact, that it would take 68 years of continuous viewing to get through them all. That’s a lot of porn!
You can check out the full report here in all its glory, but if you’re just after a few highlights and some analysis, here are some of the things that stood out to me during my review of the data.Read More
Students' experiences with sex education are anything but consistent in the United States. Consider this: less than half of the states even require that it be taught at all! Moreover, even in those states that mandate sex education, the information teachers provide doesn't necessarily have to be useful and, at least in some states, it doesn't have to be correct, either! The status of sex education in the US continues to be poor as we enter 2018, which is a large part of the reason why this country has one of the highest rates of teen pregnancies and STIs in the industrialized world. Check out the infographic below for a closer look at just how incredibly variable sex education is across the nation.Read More
Two people can have sex fantasies about the same activity, but the way that specific activity plays out isn’t necessarily going to be the same from one person to the next. In fact, it might be very, very different. For example, if two people who had sexual fantasies about threesomes described those fantasies to you in detail, it’s quite possible that they might bear little resemblance to one another beyond the number of participants involved. One individual, for example, might describe wanting to be the center of attention and engaging in sex with two people they know extremely well; by contrast, another individual might desire a threesome with two strangers in which everyone participates equally.
What accounts for such great variability in fantasy content? I think it’s a reflection of our tendency to construct sexual fantasies that meet our unique psychological needs. A new study I published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior (co-authored by Dr. David Ley and sex advice columnist Dan Savage) supports this idea.Read More
One of the most common stereotypes about straight men’s same-sex friendships is that they’re lacking in emotional depth. Their friendships are seen as revolving around shared activities like watching football or going hunting and fishing—not sitting around and talking about their feelings. Though extremely popular, a new study suggests that this characterization is inaccurate, at least among younger guys today.Read More
The busiest time of year for online dating is the nearly two-month stretch that runs from the day after Christmas through Valentine’s Day. It reaches its peak on the Sunday after New Year’s Day, or “Dating Sunday” as it’s known by those who work in the romance industry, which is consistently the single biggest day of the year for new online dating signups.
So why is that? What’s going on in the first few months of winter that makes people want to couple-up?Read More
What does it mean to be in a monogamous relationship? It depends who you ask. In the modern world, it has become increasingly difficult to define “monogamy” in any kind of universally agreed upon way. Just think about it: what “counts” as infidelity to you? For example, does sexting someone other than your romantic partner constitute cheating? What about using an interactive pornography site?
It turns out that different people answer these questions in very different ways.Read More
Every time a new year comes around, a lot of us start making resolutions for self-improvement. For example, some people resolve to lose weight or get in shape, others vow to quit smoking, and yet others plan to get their financial houses in order. As you ponder your own resolutions for 2018, here's one more that you might wish to adopt: resolve to have better sex this year.
How exactly might you accomplish this? Research offers some insight. Here are eight scientifically-backed suggestions for enhancing your sex life in 2018.Read More
As 2017 winds down, let's take a look back at this year's ten most read articles on Sex and Psychology. The following posts represent an incredibly diverse range of content and, combined, have been read nearly a half-million times! There were quite a few similarities to last year's list--in fact, the top four articles from last year appeared somewhere on the list again this year. Also, as you'll see, articles related to orgasms, pornography, and anal sex were especially popular this year, as were articles that addressed questions submitted by readers of the blog (in fact, six of the top ten articles were Q&As!).Read More
When it comes to relationships, a lot of people are under the impression that there’s just one “right” person out there for them—a so-called “soul mate” or perfect partner. In other words, many of us want someone who can be everything all at the same time: your best friend, a passionate lover, and the person who can meet all of your needs now and forever.
While believing in “the one” is a very popular way to think about relationships, sex therapists don’t think it’s a very healthy one.Read More
Many of us decorate with mistletoe around the Christmas holiday. It's often hung from the ceiling or over a door, with kisses offered to those who stand under it. Have you ever wondered why, though? How did mistletoe come to be associated with kissing anyway? Here’s a look at what we know, along with some other interesting trivia about what is widely considered to be the sexiest and most romantic Christmas symbol.Read More
It's hard for me to believe this, but Sex and Psychology is six years old today! When I began blogging in 2011, I had no idea where this journey would take me--but it's been one amazing ride so far. I'm thrilled that Sex and Psychology has become a widely read and referenced resource for scientifically-based information about sex. I'm also humbled by all of the opportunities that have emerged as a result of this blog, including regular columns with publications like Playboy and VICE, as well as a major book on the science of sexual fantasy that's set for release in 2018 (stay tuned for more!).Read More
Do people engaged in casual, “no strings attached” sexual relationships engage in similar sexual activities compared to people in committed romantic relationships? There is some research to suggest that the answer is yes, at least when looking at relatively conventional sexual practices. For instance, in a 2014 study I published on this subject, I found no differences in experiences with kissing, mutual masturbation, oral sex, vaginal intercourse, and anal intercourse when comparing people who had a friend with benefits (FWBs) to those who had a romantic partner .
However, we didn’t inquire about participation in less conventional sexual activities, such as BDSM and group sex. It’s possible that we might see different engagement in these activities based on relationship type, given the fact that these relationships--romances and FWBs--tend to differ in terms of both sexual exclusivity and sexual communication .Read More
Most people think of orgasms as a positive experience—one they look forward to repeating time and again. However, this isn’t true for people who experience something known as post-orgasmic illness syndrome, or POIS for short.
POIS is a rare medical condition that, for the most part, seems to affect men and involves getting sick for up to one week after each orgasm.Read More
Generally speaking, people tend to have more sex in the summer months than they do in the winter months; however, December is the exception to this winter sex slump. In fact, what the evidence shows is that sexual interest and activity reliably increase this month. This is especially true for the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Check out the video below for a fascinating look at all of the changes in our sex lives that take place in December.Read More
I recently blogged about a study that examined women’s experiences with orgasm during vaginal intercourse. The results revealed that question wording is crucial when it comes to understanding how often women tend to orgasm during this activity: when the question specifically includes clitoral stimulation, women’s reported frequency of orgasm (51-60% of the time) is much higher than when the question specifically excludes clitoral stimulation (21-30% of the time).
There’s another aspect of this study worth highlighting, though, which is how heterosexual men responded when given the same questions about their perceptions of the orgasmic experiences of women. Do men recognize the important role of clitoral stimulation in their partners’ orgasms? And how accurate are they when it comes to estimating how often their partners are reaching orgasm? Let’s take a look.Read More
Sex has the potential to benefit us in numerous ways. Among other things, research suggests that it may be good for our physical health (it is a form of exercise after all). In addition, sex relieves stress, it increases our sense of meaning in life, and it may even improve our memory. A new study published this year in the Journal of Management suggests yet another potential benefit: sexual activity just might make us better at our jobs—at least on days following sex.Read More
It’s that time of year when many of us start a frantic search for the perfect holiday gift for a significant other. Despite putting a lot time, effort, and money into buying a present, a lot of us find that is quickly forgotten and, at best, brings only temporary happiness. You might be able to avoid that outcome this year—and potentially improve your relationship at the same time—by instead giving your partner a gift that promotes touch and intimacy.Read More
You might think that it would be easy to define a term like sex—but it’s not. It turns out that different people have very different definitions, and they make all kinds of interesting distinctions. For example, some people only think that intercourse “counts” as sex if they have an orgasm. Further complicating matters is the fact that who’s participating in a given behavior influences what counts. Specifically, we seem to hold ourselves to different standards compared to other people.Read More