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].

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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.

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How Do Monogamous And Consensually Non-Monogamous Relationships Compare? (Video)

How Do Monogamous And Consensually Non-Monogamous Relationships Compare? (Video)

Studies have found that people overwhelmingly rate monogamous relationships as superior to consensually non-monogamous relationships on virtually every dimension you can think of [1]. For example, monogamy is seen as promoting better relationship quality in terms of enhancing intimacy, safety, honesty, and communication. Even on qualities that have nothing to do with relationship functioning, such as paying taxes on time and taking a daily multi-vitamin, monogamy is seen as better for promoting them. Do people’s perceptions match up with reality, though? Are people in monogamous relationships necessarily much better off?

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7 Things You Should Know About Consensually Non-Monogamous Relationships

7 Things You Should Know About Consensually Non-Monogamous Relationships

In consensually non-monogamous (CNM) relationships, the partners involved agree that having more than one sexual and/or romantic relationship at the same time is acceptable. There are a great many myths and misconceptions about CNM relationships, so let’s take a moment to clear things up and look at what research has revealed about them. Here are seven things you should know about CNM relationships, according to science.

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Infidelity: Cause Or Consequence Of Poor Relationship Quality?

Infidelity: Cause Or Consequence Of Poor Relationship Quality?

Several studies have found that infidelity is linked to both poor relationship quality and divorce. But is that because infidelity is harmful to relationships, or is it perhaps because low quality relationships predispose people to cheating? As it turns out, research suggests that both explanations may be correct.

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A Scientist’s Response To “We Needed Research To Tell Us This?”

A Scientist’s Response To “We Needed Research To Tell Us This?”

As someone who spends a fair amount of time engaging the public with the latest scientific research on sexuality and relationships, it is not uncommon for me to receive comments or tweets that say something to the extent of: “We needed research to tell us this?” The implication is that there really wasn’t a need for a given study to be conducted because we could have used “common sense” instead to figure out the results.

I’ve received enough of the “that’s just common sense” rebuttals that I thought it made sense to write an article tackling them head-on with the goal of explaining why I think it’s problematic to dismiss research in this way. So, here goes.

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Will Having A Lot Of Sexual Partners Wreck Your Love Life?

Will Having A Lot Of Sexual Partners Wreck Your Love Life?

The title of a forthcoming article in the journal Personal Relationships recently caught my eye: “Sowing Wild Oats: Valuable Experience, or a Field Full of Weeds?” As a sex researcher, I was naturally intrigued, but a little irritated. I despise article titles that give the impression that certain sexual behaviors are universally good or bad for everyone--in reality, nothing is ever that simple. My disappointment didn't stop with the title, though. In fact, after reading the entire article, I was left wondering how it ever got published in the first place because it feels more like an exercise in moralizing about the dangers of premarital sex than a piece of scientific writing.

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Can “Friends With Benefits” Transition Into A Successful Romantic Relationship?

Many people involved in “friends with benefits” (FWB) relationships are hoping that their relationship will eventually turn into a full-fledged romance. For instance, in a recent Internet survey of FWBs, 43.3% of women and 23.7% of men expressed a desire to eventually transition from “no strings attached” to true love (read more about that study here) [1]. Such findings beg the question of how often these relationships make the jump into romantic territory and, more importantly, whether they achieve success. A new study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships provides some preliminary answers [2].
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Is Jumping Into Bed Quickly Harmful To Relationships?

Are couples who start having sex right away not as happy in the long run? A new study has found that heterosexual romantic partners who had sex within the first month of seeing each other reported lower levels of relationship satisfaction, communication, and commitment compared to partners who waited six months or longer to begin having sex [1]. However, these effects held only for women, not men, meaning that timing of sexual activity was not related to how men felt about their relationships. The popular media has jumped on this study running headlines such as “How Leaping Into Bed Harms Relationships” and “Sex Before Marriage Adversely Impacts Relationships.” These media reports go on to claim that early sex “stunts” relationship development and causes “unhappy” marriages. However, if you look at the actual data, it will become apparent that these reports are sensationalized and that it is far from clear whether early sex is truly “harmful” to our romantic lives.
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Secret Relationships Are Far Less Exciting Than They Sound

A recurring theme in many television shows and movies is that secret relationships are hot. Couples that sneak around together seem to find it pretty exciting—they can’t stop thinking about each other, and when they’re together, they have a hard time keeping their hands off one another. But is that what secret relationships are like in real life? Are they really as full of passion and excitement as the popular media makes them out to be? A growing amount of research suggests not. In fact, secret relationships appear to fare much worse than relationships that are out in the open.
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