Why We Have Sex

Why We Have Sex

When asked this question, the wife said, “I do it for him,” and the husband responded by saying that afterwards, he often felt guilty about their having had sex because he felt so selfish.  Somehow he was able to know her motivation.

Some new research from the University of Toronto shows that the reasons couples have sex have a lot to do with how satisfied they are with their marriage.  Earlier studies had identified several hundred reasons why married couples have sex., but this new study has simplified the process and identified 4 reasons.  They used “approach-avoidance” as their variable, and then added “partner focus” to arrive at their outcome.  Here are the reasons:

1. Self-focused approach:  To pursue a positive outcome for oneself, such as personal pleasure or to feel close to their spouse.

2. Self-focused avoidance:  To avoid a negative outcome for pneself, such as not wanting to feel guilty about saying “no” to having sex.

3. Partner-focused approach:  To achieve a positive outcome for their partner.

4. Partner-focused avoidance:  To avoid conflict with their spouse and to avoid their spouse’s anger.

Outcomes of the study showed that when having sex was positively oriented, a person felt more satisfied than sexual activity on days when the motivation was more negative.  But an even more interesting outcome was that when the motivation was positive for one person, it had a better outcome for the other person as well.  In other words, it really matters to one’s spouse why you want to have sex.

How does a couple break out of negative patterns?  The solution is to talk more, not just about sex, but also about other deeply held beliefs, events, and behaviors.  Sex is a form of communication, and when a couple stops talking, sex will probably be the last thing to stop.  But healing comes as a couple begins to talk about meaningful things.  Try it!

Question:  Which of these four reasons do you think is your primary reason for having sex?

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