Sex and Psychology Podcast: An Interview with the Gottmans on Sex, Love, and Relationships

Sex and Psychology Podcast: An Interview with the Gottmans on Sex, Love, and Relationships

I recently sat down for an interview with two well-known relationship experts, Drs. John and Julie Gottman. The Gottmans are a married couple, and they’re both clinical psychologists. They are also the founders of The Gottman Institute, where they have been studying sex and relationships for decades. The Gottmans have published a number of influential academic papers and bestselling books, with their latest being Eight Dates: Essential Conversations for a Lifetime of Love.

I cover a wide range of topics in my interview with the Gottmans, including…

Read More

How To Get Over Your Ex, According To Science

How To Get Over Your Ex, According To Science

It can be challenging to get over a breakup. Many people find that they can’t stop thinking about their ex and that this has negative implications for their mental health, including depression and anxiety. So if you’re having trouble moving on, is there anything you can do?

Read More

9 Out of the Top 10 Traits Men and Women Want In a Romantic Partner are the Same

9 Out of the Top 10 Traits Men and Women Want In a Romantic Partner are the Same

When it comes to what men and women want in a romantic partner, they’re stereotyped as wanting drastically different things. However, research suggests that they actually have a lot in common.

Read More

We’re In Peak Online Dating Season. Here's Why

We’re In Peak Online Dating Season. Here's Why

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. This 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 (a phenomenon often referred to in the media as “cuffing season”)?

Read More

Sex With An Ex: Is It A Terrible Idea?

Sex With An Ex: Is It A Terrible Idea?

“Welcome to the wonderful world of ex sex. It’s hot, it’s naughty…oh yeah, and it’s a really stupid idea.” – Cosmopolitan Magazine 

When a couple decides to end their relationship, the result isn’t always a clean break. There’s often some degree of contact that continues and, sometimes, that includes sex. So what exactly are the implications of maintaining a sexual relationship with a former partner? According to conventional wisdom, it’s a terrible idea (as exemplified by the above quote from Cosmo). However, conventional wisdom isn’t always right. 

Read More

10 Facts About Cheating And Infidelity, According To Science

10 Facts About Cheating And Infidelity, According To Science

Infidelity has long been a topic of interest to scientists who study sex and relationships. Over the years, they’ve uncovered a number of fascinating things about how common cheating is, who does it, and why. Here’s a look at ten interesting things scientists have discovered about cheating.  

Read More

5 Important Things Science Has Taught Us About Sexual Attraction

5 Important Things Science Has Taught Us About Sexual Attraction

What is it that attracts us to other people? Can you fall in love at first sight? Can computer algorithms successfully predict who will make a good match? Read on for the answers to these and several other fascinating questions about sexual attraction, according to science. 

Read More

Sexless Marriages: How Common Are They, And How Do People Cope With Them?

Sexless Marriages: How Common Are They, And How Do People Cope With Them?

Nationally representative U.S. survey data reveal that approximately 1 in 7 adults today are living in a sexless marriage, meaning they report engaging in little to no sexual activity [1, 2]. Despite how common sexless marriages are, surprisingly little research exists on the topic. So why does sexual activity decline in so many couples in the first place and how does it affect the partners? Also, what are the factors that might lead people to stay in sexless marriages despite the fact that the experience tends to be highly distressing?

 

Read More

Living Together Before Marriage Doesn't Doom Relationships After All

Living Together Before Marriage Doesn't Doom Relationships After All

When I was a graduate student studying the psychology of romantic relationships, I remember learning about “the cohabitation effect” in a few of my courses. Relationship scientists coined this term to describe the increased risk of divorce that seemed to accompany living together before marriage. At the time, several studies had been published in major journals supporting this idea.

Interestingly, however, recent studies suggest that “the cohabitation effect” is a thing of the past—and may have never even existed at all.

Read More

Video: The Science of Love With Dr. Art Aron

Video: The Science of Love With Dr. Art Aron

Why should scientists study love? Because, as social psychologist Dr. Art Aron explains in the video below, it's central to our health and happiness. Dr. Aron talks not only about why love is a worthwhile area of scientific inquiry, but also how he started studying love in the first place and some of the most fascinating things he has discovered by researching this topic.

Read More

When are Married Couples Most Likely to Cheat? The Link Between Infidelity and Relationship Length

When are Married Couples Most Likely to Cheat? The Link Between Infidelity and Relationship Length

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

Can Food Put Us In The Mood? How Hunger State Influences Responses to Romantic Imagery

Can Food Put Us In The Mood? How Hunger State Influences Responses to Romantic Imagery

Food and romance are intimately intertwined in modern dating rituals. Indeed, restaurants are one of the most popular places people visit when they go on a date. Neuroscience research suggests that there might be a very good reason for this: having a full stomach just might make our brains more sensitive to romantic cues.

Read More

How the Practice of BDSM is Linked to Relationship Satisfaction

How the Practice of BDSM is Linked to Relationship Satisfaction

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 [1].

Read More

Swingers And Polyamorists May Have More Satisfying Sex Lives Than Monogamists

Swingers And Polyamorists May Have More Satisfying Sex Lives Than Monogamists

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 [1]. 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

When People Cheat, Who Do They Do It With? Is It Usually A Friend Or A Stranger?

When People Cheat, Who Do They Do It With? Is It Usually A Friend Or A Stranger?

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

Changes In Americans’ Attitudes Toward And Experiences With Infidelity In The Last Two Decades

Changes In Americans’ Attitudes Toward And Experiences With Infidelity In The Last Two Decades

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

How Is Porn Use Linked To Relationship Satisfaction? It’s Complicated

How Is Porn Use Linked To Relationship Satisfaction? It’s Complicated

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

What the Most Sexually Satisfied Couples are Doing in (and Out of) Bed

What the Most Sexually Satisfied Couples are Doing in (and Out of) Bed

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

Our Reasons For Cheating Depend On Our Personality, Gender, and Attachment Style

Our Reasons For Cheating Depend On Our Personality, Gender, and Attachment Style

A recent study published in the Journal of Sex Research identified eight distinct motivations people can have for cheating (read all about those motives here). Beyond simply demonstrating the factors that motivate cheating, however, this study also examined how our personality, gender, and attachment style are linked to our reasons for committing infidelity. Here’s a quick review of the key findings.

Read More