The Psychology of Sadism: Why Some People Are Turned On By Others' Pain

The Psychology of Sadism: Why Some People Are Turned On By Others' Pain

Sexual sadists are people who derive arousal from inflicting pain on others. This could be physical pain, such as hitting someone else, or it could be psychological pain, such as humiliating another person. Where does this sexual interest come from? A lot of people are curious, including a reader who recently sent me the following question:

“My friend expressed that he is turned on by the idea of seeing someone feel pain and/or discomfort. He said if you want to turn him on, you should whimper or cry. Of course this isn’t his only turn on, but I wonder where it comes from. Why would seeing someone hurt turn him on sexually?”

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Is Watching Porn a Form of Infidelity?

Is Watching Porn a Form of Infidelity?

What “counts” as cheating on a romantic partner? It depends who you ask. Research finds that people define infidelity in very different ways. However, there are some things that people seem to agree on more than others.

For example, people largely agree that having sexual intercourse with someone who isn’t your partner is a form of cheating (assuming, of course, that you agreed to be monogamous with that partner). The same goes for taking a shower with another person or sending them naked photos. But what about just watching porn by yourself? Do people typically categorize that as a form of infidelity? A recent study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior offers some insight into this question.

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These Are The 8 Main Reasons People Cheat

These Are The 8 Main Reasons People Cheat

Research consistently finds that between 1 in 4 and 1 in 5 married persons in the United States has committed infidelity [1]. Rates of infidelity in dating relationships are even higher. Why are so many people cheating? Surprisingly little research has explored the motivations behind infidelity; fortunately, however, a new study published in the Journal of Sex Research offers some valuable insight [2]. 

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Sex Question Friday: Do Men’s Cuckold Fantasies Stem From Low Self-Esteem?

Sex Question Friday: Do Men’s Cuckold Fantasies Stem From Low Self-Esteem?

A reader contacted me with the following hypothesis about the origin of cuckold fantasies:

“Do you want to know WHY some men feel aroused by that cuckold fantasy? It comes from a deep lack of self-worth. I feel like I'm not good enough for my girl, and so I want her to have sex with a better male. I know this goes against evolutionary programming, but it is a form of inferiority complex. I get aroused by knowing that she is mating with the alpha male.”

Thanks for submitting this interesting hypothesis. For any of my readers who are unfamiliar with cuckold fantasies, what we’re talking about here are (usually) heterosexual men who fantasize about watching their wives or girlfriends have sex with other men. These fantasies appear to be quite common, and numerous theories have been proposed to account for their origin, including an evolutionary explanation that you can read more about here.

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A Little (Or A Lot) Of Masturbation Won't Hurt Your Health

A Little (Or A Lot) Of Masturbation Won't Hurt Your Health

For centuries, numerous religious, political, and medical figures have argued that masturbation is hazardous to one's health and can lead to a wide range of negative effects, including everything from blindness to paralysis to insanity. In fact, in the not-too-distant past, medical textbooks went so far as to label masturbation a form of "self-abuse" and made outlandish arguments about how the loss of one ounce of semen is as detrimental to the body as losing forty ounces of blood! Such warnings about the dire consequences of self-stimulation have certainly lessened over time, but they persist even today. So what exactly are the health implications of masturbation?

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Are Sexting And Cybersex Signs of Loneliness And Low Self-Esteem?

Are Sexting And Cybersex Signs of Loneliness And Low Self-Esteem?

In a recent New York Times editorial, author Susan Jacoby laments the increasingly popularity of “sexting,” cybersex, and other such virtual connections. Jacoby argues that virtual sex lacks the sensuality inherent in an in-person sexual encounter and that people who have sex online are settling for a much lesser experience. She also implies that the people who are drawn to such behavior suffer from low self-esteem. Indeed, she (judgmentally) ponders “what does a man really think of himself when he must feed his ego with phony gasps of erotic pleasure from strangers in a digital vastness? What does a woman think of herself in the same arid zone of sex without sensuality?” However, she goes further and argues that virtual sex represents an even more problematic behavior for women than for men. Indeed, she claims that “women who settle for digital pornography are lowering their expectations and hopes even more drastically than their male collaborators are.” So are sexting and cybersex really so terrible and are the people who engage in these behaviors as pathetic as Jacoby suggests?

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Sex Question Friday: Are My Stereotypes About Polyamory True?

Every Friday on the blog, I answer people’s questions about sex, love, and relationships. This week’s question comes from a reader who wanted to know more about the topic of polyamory. In case you aren’t familiar with this term, polyamory refers to a non-monogamous approach to relationships in which someone may have intimate involvement with several persons simultaneously. The question at hand in this post is whether the practice of polyamory is linked to sexual abuse and low self-esteem.
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Are Porn Actresses “Damaged Goods?”

Society views women who appear in pornographic films negatively. For instance, both male and female college students rate porn actresses as having more negative traits and characteristics than mainstream movie actresses and women in general [1]. The only group of women porn actresses are rated more favorably than is prostitutes. In addition, porn actresses are believed to come from dysfunctional home environments characterized by sexual abuse and drug use [2]. Such findings suggest that women who have sex on film are thought to be damaged goods, meaning that they are seen as having traumatic backgrounds and poor psychological health. But is there any truth to this stereotype? A recent study published in the Journal of Sex Research suggests not.
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Could Being In A Marginalized Relationship Be Bad For Your Health?

Many people are involved in romantic relationships that are not accepted by their family, friends, or society at large. Sometimes it is because the partners are of the same sex, while other times it is because the partners are of different races or because one partner is much older than the other.  Regardless of why one’s relationship is socially rejected, this bias can have significant implications for the partners involved. For instance, the more relationship disapproval a couple experiences, the more likely they are to break up in the future.1 A brand new study suggests that the effects of romantic disapproval may extend even further than this and could potentially harm couple members' health and well-being.2
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Is Masturbation Bad For Your Health?

Is Masturbation Bad For Your Health?

“Masturbation: the primary sexual activity of mankind. In the nineteenth century it was a disease; in the twentieth it's a cure.” – Thomas Szasz

One of the most common sexual topics people are curious about is masturbation. Specifically, people often wonder whether it is possible to do it “too much” or if touching oneself will “cause problems.” The basis for these concerns likely stems from the fact that masturbation has historically been viewed as an immoral activity that can cause negative health effects, including everything from blindness to hairy palms to insanity. These warnings about the dire personal and moral consequences of self-stimulation persist even today. But is there any truth to them?

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