When Sex Is More Than Just Sex

When Sex Is More Than Just Sex

For humans, sex isn’t just about gratifying some carnal, animalistic urge. Rather, the physical act of sex can serve a lot of different psychological purposes. This helps to explain why when people are asked to report on their motivations for having sex, hundreds of distinct reasons emerge! These reasons include everything from wanting to experience pleasure to desiring an emotional connection with a partner to seeking a closer relationship with God.

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“Casual Sex” Isn’t All That Casual

“Casual Sex” Isn’t All That Casual

We tend to think of casual sex as, well, a pretty casual affair, meaning it’s just about the sex and nothing else. This view of casual sex is pervasive, even among those who study sex for a living. However, it turns out that casual sex is often about more than just a physical act of sexual gratification. For many people, there’s an important emotional component to it as well, according to a new study published in the Journal of Relationships Research.

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Postcoital Dysphoria: When You Inexplicably Become Sad After Consensual, Satisfying Sex

Postcoital Dysphoria: When You Inexplicably Become Sad After Consensual, Satisfying Sex

How do you feel after sex? If you’re like most people, you’re probably pretty happy. After all, “it feels good” and “it’s fun” are among the most common reasons men and women alike report having sex in the first place. We have sex, in part, because it’s a rewarding activity that creates positive affect—it tends to make us feel pretty damn good. However, not everyone experiences sex that way.

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Why Do We Fantasize About Sex? There Are More Reasons Than You Think

Why Do We Fantasize About Sex? There Are More Reasons Than You Think

Why do we have sexual fantasies? For many of you, the first thought that probably comes to mind is to enhance sexual arousal or to experience pleasure. However, that’s just one of many potential reasons we might fantasize about sex. In this post, we’ll consider the most commonly reported reasons for having a sexual fantasy according to a survey of 4,175 Americans (note that this survey formed the basis for my latest book, Tell Me What You Want: The Science of Sexual Desire and How It Can Help You Improve Your Sex Life).

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What I Learned By Asking 4,000 Americans About Their Biggest Sex Fantasies

What I Learned By Asking 4,000 Americans About Their Biggest Sex Fantasies

My new book, Tell Me What You Want: The Science of Sexual Desire and How It Can Help You Improve Your Sex Life, will land in bookstores next week (July 10 in the US, to be exact). I couldn't be more thrilled, especially after all the years I spent writing it!

This book is built around a massive survey of sexual fantasies that I spent almost two years working on. I learned a lot in the process of conducting this survey and writing the book, so let me take a moment to share some of the key insights and takeaways. To that end, here's an excerpt from a recent Q&A I did about Tell Me What You Want, which will give you a better sense of what the book is all about and some of the most interesting things I discovered along the way:

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A Sex Therapist On Overcoming Male Sexual Performance Anxiety (Video)

A Sex Therapist On Overcoming Male Sexual Performance Anxiety (Video)

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.

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Obtaining Sexual Consent Isn’t Just The Right Thing To Do--It's Also Really Sexy

Obtaining Sexual Consent Isn’t Just The Right Thing To Do--It's Also Really Sexy

There's been a lot of talk about the issue of sexual consent in response to the #MeToo movement. Much of this talk has focused on getting men to understand that obtaining consent is the right and respectful thing to do—a point that they increasingly appear to recognize and appreciate. However, something a lot of guys do not yet seem to realize is that focusing on consent can be worthwhile for at least one other reason: it has the potential to make sex even better. Here's why:

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What You Think You Know About Men’s Sexuality Is Probably Wrong

What You Think You Know About Men’s Sexuality Is Probably Wrong

One of the most popular stereotypes of male sexuality is that guys want sex ALL the time. They're always in the mood because they're constantly thinking about it. After all, men think about sex once every seven seconds, right? Er, well, not exactly. Research has found that men don't think about sex nearly as often as that (it's more like twice per hour, at least among college-age guys).

Another common stereotype of male sexuality is that sex and emotion are totally separate for guys. In other words, it's widely believe that men's sexual desire doesn't have a whole lot to do with their emotional connection to their partners. As it turns out, though, research suggests that this belief isn't true either.

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Video: One Secret for a Happy Marriage

Video: One Secret for a Happy Marriage

How do you keep a romantic relationship healthy and strong over the long haul? Research suggests that the way we respond to our partners' emotional states may be particularly important. As discussed in the video below from our friends over at The Science of Us, a new study suggests that the more sensitive we are to a partner's positive emotions in particular, the better off our relationships tend to be.

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Women’s Reasons For Sex And How They Relate To Relationship Status And Sexual Orientation

Women’s Reasons For Sex And How They Relate To Relationship Status And Sexual Orientation

Previous research has found that both men and women report a wide range of reasons for having sex. In fact, as many as 237 different reasons have been identified! But how do people’s reasons and motivations for sex differ based on the type of relationship they’re in (i.e., casual vs. committed)? And are there differences in sexual motivations based on sexual orientation? A new study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior offers a revealing look at how relationship type and sexual orientation are associated with women’s reasons for having sex.

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Video: Rethinking Infidelity--A Talk For Anyone Who Has Ever Loved

Video: Rethinking Infidelity--A Talk For Anyone Who Has Ever Loved

In this TED talk, therapist Esther Perel gives a fantastic presentation on infidelity that is rooted in both scientific research, as well as her own clinical observations. She addresses a number of interesting questions, including: Why would someone who is happily married and loves their partner deeply end up cheating? Why do affairs hurt so much? What can a couple do when an affair is exposed to heal and move on? As hurtful and destructive as affairs can be, can any good ever come out of them? Perel comes to some provocative conclusions and challenges us to think differently about infidelity. Check it out and weigh in with your thoughts below.

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“Excuse Me, My Face Is Up Here”: A Study Of Eye Movements And Sexual Intentions

“Excuse Me, My Face Is Up Here”: A Study Of Eye Movements And Sexual Intentions

How do you know whether your date is looking for a one-night stand or a long-term love? A new study just published in the journal Psychological Science suggests that the answer may be in their eyes. I know this will not be surprising to some of you, but the amount of time a person spends looking at your face versus your body appears to be indicative of whether their intentions are romantic or purely sexual in nature.

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Losing Your Virginity: Less Awkward Than It Used To Be

Losing Your Virginity: Less Awkward Than It Used To Be

How do you feel about the first time you had sex? If you pose this question to a bunch of different people, you’re bound to find a range of responses. Some will remember it as incredibly positive and pleasurable, while others will say it was just awkward and uncomfortable. These emotional reactions to our first sexual experiences seem to be important too—studies have found that people who evaluate their virginity loss positively report having more satisfying sex lives than those who look back with anxiety and regret. However, a new study just published in the Journal of Sex Research reports some encouraging news: overall, first-time sex appears to be a more positive experience than it was a few decades ago.

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The Science Of Heartbreak (VIDEO)

The Science Of Heartbreak (VIDEO)

Have you ever wondered why people often use physical terms to describe the emotional pain they experience from breakup and other forms of social rejection? It turns out that the same parts of the brain that process physical pain also process emotional pain, which may explain why emotional pain feels as bad as it does. But why is this the case? Some scientists theorize that there may be an important evolutionary reason behind it. Check out the video below by ASAP Science for a quick rundown of some of the research on this topic.

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Sexual Desire Discrepancies Are A Relationship Problem, Not A Gender Problem

A recent piece in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) entitled “How often should married couples have sex? What happens when he says ‘more’ and she says ‘no?” caused quite a stir this past week. The original piece told the tale of a married couple (Chris and Afton) that developed a sexual desire discrepancy (the clinical term for a case in which one partner wants more sex than the other). The couple communicated with each other about the discrepancy, read a self-help book together, and ultimately worked through it. That’s a positive outcome, right?  Judging by the responses that appeared on Jezebel, The Week, New York Magazine, and several other websites, this is anything but a happy ending. The problem? The partner who desired more sex in this scenario was male and the one who wanted less sex was female.
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The Science of Orgasms (VIDEO)

What happens inside your brain and body during an orgasm? A whole lot. Orgasm in both men and women is a heck of a lot more than just a few genital contractions. The video below, entitled The Science of Orgasms, will walk you through just a few of the many changes that happen. The most fascinating part is where they explore the vast number of cognitive (e.g., loss of reasoning and control) and emotional changes (e.g., reduced anxiety and aggression) that occur upon reaching climax and how they differ across the sexes.

This video also highlights a couple of important and well-known sex differences in the nature of “the big O,” including the fact that female orgasms tend to last longer than male orgasms (20 seconds vs. less than 10 seconds), and that women have the ability to achieve multiple orgasms. Isn't science fun?

 

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Why Do Romantic Partners Tend To Look Alike?

Contrary to the old saying “opposite attract,” you have probably noticed that romantic couples have a tendency to look more alike than they do different. But why is this the case? Is it because people have a tendency to select partners who look like them, or is it because couple members actually grow physically similar to one another over time? Surprisingly, psychologists have found support for both of these explanations.
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Sex Question Friday: Do STDs Affect Women's Ability To Reach Orgasm?

Every Friday on the blog, I answer people’s questions about sex, love, and relationships. This week’s question comes from a college student who wanted to know whether having a sexually transmitted disease (STD) can interfere with a woman’s sexual pleasure.

If you happen to contract an STD, is it more difficult to induce a female orgasm?

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Sex Question Friday: I Have Trouble Getting Physical Because of My Past. What Can I Do?

Sex Question Friday: I Have Trouble Getting Physical Because of My Past. What Can I Do?

Every Friday on the blog, I answer questions about sex, love, and relationships. This week’s question comes from a reader of the blog who is having issues expressing physical intimacy as a result of a previous sexual trauma.

I have a problem getting physical with anyone because of my past. I was molested and almost raped when I was younger and anytime I try to be physical with my partner, I start having a panic attack. Are there any studies about this kind of thing about a solution? It doesn’t help that my partner isn't as understanding as they should be, but I would really like to get past this. Thanks for any help you can offer.

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