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 .Read More
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 . 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
Studies have found that people overwhelmingly rate monogamous relationships as superior to consensually non-monogamous relationships on virtually every dimension you can think of . 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?Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More