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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When Is The Right Time To Start Having Sex?

When Is The Right Time To Start Having Sex?

When you start seeing someone new, when’s the right time to begin having sex with that person? According to a non-scientific survey of OK Cupid users, people are all over the map: 28% said between 1 and 2 dates, 47% said between 3 and 5 dates, 20% said 6 or more dates, and 5% said only after getting married.  

 This pattern tells us that the “three-date rule” is something a lot of people apparently subscribe to; however, it appears to be far from universal.  

But does it actually matter when you do it?

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Our Sexual Fantasies Tell Us Something Important About Who We Are

Our Sexual Fantasies Tell Us Something Important About Who We Are

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. 

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Why Stealing Someone Else's Partner is a Terrible Way to Start a Relationship

Why Stealing Someone Else's Partner is a Terrible Way to Start a Relationship

Attempting to steal someone else’s spouse or lover--a phenomenon known scientifically as mate poaching--is a common theme in both TV shows and movies. It happens a lot in real life, too. For instance, surveys of North American adults have found that about half of the respondents report that they have been poached successfully from a previous relationship before [1]! So what ultimately comes of romances that begin with poaching? And is it possible to form a healthy, long-term relationship with someone you've lured away from another lover? Based on the research that's out there, not so much.

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Is An Open Relationship Right For You?

Is An Open Relationship Right For You?

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.

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How Much Sexual Experience Are You Comfortable With Your Partner Having?

How Much Sexual Experience Are You Comfortable With Your Partner Having?

The amount of sexual experience you have (or don’t have) could potentially affect how willing other people are to date or have sex with you, according to a new study published in the Journal of Sex Research. However, what makes for a desirable sexual history depends upon many things, including whether you are male or female and, further, whether we’re talking about desirability for a short-term sexual relationship vs. a long-term romantic relationship.

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Why Some People May Be Better Suited To Consensual Nonmonogamy Than Others

Why Some People May Be Better Suited To Consensual Nonmonogamy Than Others

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.

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Interview With The Sex Researcher: Dr. Zhana Vrangalova

Interview With The Sex Researcher: Dr. Zhana Vrangalova

If you're a regular reader of this blog, then you're probably a fan of sex research. But have you ever wondered who is behind the fascinating studies and theories discussed on this site? How did those folks get into this field in the first place? Where do their research ideas come from? And what is a day in life of a sex researcher really like? Today, I'm launching a new feature on the blog in which I will interview prominent sex researchers, scholars, and therapists in order to give you some insight into these and other questions.

My first interview is with Dr. Zhana Vrangalova, who holds a PhD in developmental psychology and is currently a sex educator, researcher, and blogger based in New York City. Below is the full text of our recent online chat.

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The Science Of Mate Poaching: Why Stealing Someone Else’s Partner Probably Isn’t A Good Idea

The Science Of Mate Poaching: Why Stealing Someone Else’s Partner Probably Isn’t A Good Idea

Stealing someone else’s spouse or lover is a common occurrence on television shows and in the movies. This phenomenon, known scientifically as mate poaching, is not just the stuff of Hollywood fiction, though--it's incredibly common in the real world too. For instance, survey research on North American adults reveals that about half of them report having been poached successfully from a previous relationship [1]! So what comes of romances that begin with poaching. Can luring someone away from their current partner form the basis of a healthy, long-term relationship? According to a new set of studies published in the Journal of Research in Personality, not so much [2].

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