Narcissism is a frequently maligned personality trait that involves being self-centered, entitled, and holding grandiose views of oneself. Sex researchers have long been interested in how narcissism plays out in people’s sexual and romantic lives; to date, however, they’ve really only focused on the potentially harmful outcomes associated with being narcissistic, such as being more likely to commit infidelity . New research challenges the widespread belief that narcissism is inherently bad, though. In fact, in some ways, narcissism just might be good for your sexual health and well-being.Read More
2018 has been memorable for a lot of reasons—including what science taught us about sex. Here’s a quick recap of some of the most interesting things we learned about sex this year.
1. The G-Spot probably isn’t what you think it is.
Scientists recently published one of the largest and most thorough anatomic explorations ever of the area commonly referred to as the G-Spot.Read More
Many psychologists believe that our personalities consist of five underlying traits: openness to experience (your willingness to try new things), conscientiousness (how detail oriented and organized you are), extraversion (how outgoing and sociable you are), agreeableness (how much care and concern you have for other people), and neuroticism (how well you deal with stress and how emotionally stable you are). Scientists have studied how each of these traits is related to people’s sexual attitudes and behaviors (and you can read all about that here), but some new research suggests that one of these traits in particular might be especially important when it comes to our sex lives: conscientiousness.Read More
I surveyed 4,175 Americans from all 50 states about their sexual fantasies for my book Tell Me What You Want. Participants were asked to describe their favorite sexual fantasy of all time, as well as report on how often they fantasized about hundreds of different people, places, and things. They were also asked extensive questions about their personalities, sexual histories, and demographic backgrounds. The results are a treasure trove of information about what it is that turns us on and why. Here’s a sneak peek at seven of the most fascinating things I found:Read More
Our sexual fantasies appear to reflect, at least in part, our personality traits and characteristics. In studying the sex fantasies of more than 4,000 Americans for my book Tell Me What You Want, I found that the Big Five personality factors of openness to experience, conscientiousness, agreeableness, extraversion, and neuroticism were all linked to the types of fantasies people reported having.
Below, I briefly describe what each of these traits is all about and how they are related to the types of things you’re more (or less) likely to fantasize about:Read More
Your sex life is, to some extent, a function of your personality. Sex scientists have accumulated a large body of research revealing linkages between what are known as the "Big Five" personality traits and people’s sexual attitudes, behaviors, and health. These findings were recently summarized in a meta-analysis published in the journal Psychological Bulletin.Read More
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: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
Social scientists have long been interested in the factors that predict divorce. Over the years, they’ve identified a number of things that seem to increase the odds of a couple dissolving their marriage; however, the evidence hasn’t always been consistent across studies, with some effects being more reliable than others. In this article, we'll review some of the most interesting findings from this area of research.Read More
Americans are very interested in the idea of consensual nonmonogamy. In fact, a 2016 national YouGov poll of 1,000 adults found that 48% of men and 31% of women said that their ideal relationship would be nonmonogamous to some degree; however, far fewer than that indicated that they were currently involved in a nonmonogamous relationship. So, while lots of people seem to think that they'd be happier if they opened their relationship in some way, would that actually be the case in reality? Not necessarily.Read More
Given how high the rate of infidelity is, some people have argued that humans are, by nature, not very well suited to monogamy. Others have gone even further and argued that we’d probably all be a lot happier if we were consensually nonmonogamous instead. But is that likely to be the case? Would everyone be better off if they were in some kind of sexually open relationship?
According to data I presented at last month’s meeting of the International Association for Relationship Research, probably not. Rather, my data suggest that whether we respond favorably to monogamy or consensual nonmonogamy is, to some extent, a matter of personality.Read More
A reader submitted the following question:
“Is it a bad idea to get involved with someone who I know cheated in their last relationship? I mean, once a cheater, always a cheater, right?”
You’re certainly not alone in thinking this. It is a very common belief that someone who cheats once is bound to do it over and over again; however, the reality is that not everyone who cheats is equally likely to repeat this behavior in the future.Read More
Every Friday on the blog, I answer people’s questions about sex, love, and relationships. This week’s question comes from a reader who was curious about the origin of sexual fetishes:
“Are we born with fetishes or are they things that we learn and develop throughout our lives?”
Good question! Over the years, I have heard many people claim that fetishes and other unusual sexual interests must be inborn because these urges tend to emerge very early in life and people feel that they do not have any choice or conscious control in the matter (much like sexual orientation). However, I personally don’t buy the idea that people are “born with” very specific and highly unique sexual interests in things like rubber, pantyhose, or feet, and I’m not aware of any research to suggest that this is likely to be the case. Scientists have not identified a foot fetish gene, or a gene for any other fetish for that matter--and although I can't say with any certainty if they ever will, I wouldn't hold my breath. Instead, I would argue that a person is more likely to be born with a generalized predisposition to developing fetishes, as opposed to being born with a specific fetish. Also, regardless of one’s predispositions, some research suggests that fetishes can potentially be learned by just about anyone under the right circumstances.Read More
There is a common perception that people who practice bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, sadism, and masochism (BDSM) have major psychological issues. As some evidence of this, just take a look at how people who practice BDSM are portrayed in the popular media. For instance, consider the following excerpt from the bestselling erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey:
“Why don’t you like to be touched?” I whisper, staring up into soft gray eyes. “Because I’m fifty shades of f*cked up, Anastasia.” (page 369)
The title character, Christian Grey, is depicted as carrying a lot of emotional baggage. Not only did he have an abusive childhood, but he was introduced to sex at a relatively young age by one of his mother’s female friends. The book implies that these experiences helped shape Grey’s dominant persona and interest in BDSM. So is this an accurate reflection of reality? Do people who are into BDSM really have more issues? A new study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine suggests not.Read More