The way we think about casual sex is all wrong, as Dr. Terri Conley argues in the TEDx talk below. Conely walks us through some of the key findings from her program of research and challenges a lot of popular ideas on the subject.Read More
When asked to describe a memorable regret, the things people mention most often involve love, sex, and romance. Common regrets include lost opportunities (like “the one that got away”), cheating and infidelity, and one’s first sexual experience. Men and women both report having sexual regrets, but do the nature of those regrets differ? Research suggests that, on average, they do.Read More
According to countless popular media articles, there is a massive disparity between heterosexual men and women when it comes to giving oral sex. Some of these articles suggest that, in male-female sexual encounters, “blowjobs are basically a given” while cunnilingus is “one of the least-often performed sex acts.” In other words, men are getting oral all the time from women, whereas women are almost never receiving it from men—a situation that has been dubbed the “oral sex gap.”
However, I did some digging into the prevalence of oral sex across genders and it turns out that these claims don’t quite match up with what the research says. The oral sex gap isn’t exactly what we have been led to believe.Read More
Sex and aging is a topic that has been underexplored in sexuality research, given that the bulk of sex studies to date have focused on college students. However, we’ve learned more in the last few years, as online data collection and national surveys of sexual behavior have increased.
One study of sex and aging that recently caught my attention explored how people’s sexual attitudes and behaviors change over the lifespan using data from a large and diverse sample of 1,522 adults from across the United States.Read More
I have written quite a bit about similarities and differences in the sexual fantasies of self-identified men and women (see here for a summary). Of course, however, not everyone identifies as male or female. So what do people who have non-binary gender identities (e.g., transgender, bigender, genderqueer) fantasize about? And how are they similar or different to those of self-identified men and women?Read More
Purchasing sex used to be a very common behavior among American men. For example, Alfred Kinsey’s famous studies of human sexual behavior from the 1940s and 50s found that 69% of the men he surveyed had paid for sex at least once! However, more recent studies suggest that the number has dropped significantly as attitudes toward sex outside of marriage have liberalized. In fact, in the 1990s, a nationally representative survey of Americans found that just 16% of men said they had paid for sex before.
So what do the numbers look like today? And how do they compare for men and women?Read More
The human body produces a number of different fluids—and those fluids represent a sexual turn-on for some people. From semen and sweat to blood and breast milk, almost any body fluid you can think of has the potential to become a source of sexual arousal. But just how many people are turned on by each fluid? I explored this question in the data I collected for my book Tell Me What You Want. I surveyed more than 4,000 Americans about their sexual fantasies and, among other things, I asked participants whether they had ever fantasized about several different body fluids.Read More
In studying the sex fantasies of more than 4,000 Americans for my book Tell Me What You Want, I discovered that there’s one person who’s more likely to appear in our sexual fantasies than anyone else: a current romantic partner (or, if you’re single, an ex-partner). However, our fantasies aren’t only about our partners. For example, sometimes we fantasize about “forbidden fruit”—you know, people our partners might disapprove of, like their best friend or a sibling. Or perhaps we might fantasize about people that our culture or society would consider off-limits, such as someone else who’s married.
So just how common are these “forbidden fruit” fantasies ? And do they differ based on gender and/or sexual orientation? Here’s a look at what I found when I dug into the data:Read More
I surveyed more than 4,000 Americans about their sexual fantasies for my book Tell Me What You Want and I found that group sex was one of the most common things that turned people on, regardless of their gender and sexual orientation. While threesomes were the most popular form of group sex, they were just one of many kinds of group activities that people fantasized about.
In the book, I talk at length about why group sex is such a popular fantasy and what people’s general experiences are like sharing and acting on it. However, when you dig a little deeper into the data, it turns out that the way things go when people share and act on group sex fantasies differs depending upon their gender and sexual orientation. So let’s take a closer look at those results.Read More
Psychologists and psychiatrists use the term paraphilia to refer to unusual sexual interests. In other words, a paraphilia represents a desire for an uncommon sexual object or activity. Hundreds of different paraphilias have been described at one time or another; however, there are only eight specific paraphilias listed in the current DSM: fetishism, transvestism, voyeurism, exhibitionism, frotteurism, pedophilia, masochism, and sadism.
While these interests have long been thought to be rare, little data exists regarding their prevalence in the population at large. In fact, the vast majority of the research conducted on these topics so far has been limited to clinical samples, which don’t really give us much indication as to how many people might have these interests at one time or another. However, recent research suggests that they’re far more common than previously thought.Read More
I shared an article on Twitter the other day about the prevalence of infidelity, which prompted a response from my pal Dan Savage about how cheating is associated with the length of a relationship. Basically, he wanted to know whether cheating is more or less common when you look at couples that have been together for a very long time. This is an interesting question and one that I’ve actually never been asked before, so I did some digging and here’s what I found. It turned out to be a pretty interesting story.Read More
One of the most reliable findings across studies of human sexual behavior is that heterosexual men report substantially more lifetime sexual partners on average compared to heterosexual women. In theory, the numbers reported by straight men and women should be fairly similar, right? However, we often see guys reporting partner counts that are twice as high as that of women. So why is that? How do we explain this gender difference?
A new study published in the Journal of Sex Research offers some valuable insight.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
Several studies have found that women are more likely to have regrets about their previous experiences with casual sex than men. While men can certainly have regrets about casual sex, they’re more likely than women to regret opportunities they passed up instead of times they actually had casual sex. So why is that? What explains this gender difference?Read More
Pink and blue are colors that are commonly associated with gender in many Western cultures. Specifically, pink is widely considered to be a “girl color,” whereas blue is widely thought of as “boy color.” However, this hasn’t always been the case. In fact, historically, we didn’t associate these colors with a particular gender—and there was even a period not that long ago when some argued that pink was for boys and blue was for girls.Read More
A reader asked:
“What percentage of men and women actually enjoy giving or receiving oral sex?”
Good question! Let me start by saying that oral sex has become an incredibly common sexual practice in the United States in recent years. In fact, nationally representative survey studies have routinely found that the vast majority of both men and women have engaged in this activity. For example, recent data from the National Survey of Family Growth finds that 86-87% of American adults aged 18-44 have done it at least once (see here for stats on other sexual behaviors).Read More