Remember the honeymoon phase of your relationship where you and your partner couldn’t keep your hands off each other? So many couples wish they could stay in that phase, but as life unfolds and you settle into new routines, it tends to slow down.
From new adult stresses to kids, work, and managing busy schedules, finding time to be together as a couple can be challenging at times. And with all those stresses, it can be hard to get yourselves in the mood to rekindle some of that spark and heat from early on. It’s there, but you sometimes have to dig deeper to find it and you both have to be on the same page — not always an easy feat. We have been told that having more sex with our partner makes for a better relationship, but is that motivation enough to find the time and spark?
A new study unveils the real motivations couples have to have sex and these reasons significantly affect marital satisfaction, just as frequency does. Published in the October issue of “Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin“, researchers at the University of Toronto have divided the most common reasons why people have sex, most relevant to long-term relationships where you’re less likely to be in that “honeymoon” phase. Not only that, but they’ve discovered that the reason for having sex can play a big role in the happiness in a marriage.
The study looked at 108 heterosexual dating couples who completed daily surveys every day for two weeks. On the days where the couples had sex, they were asked 26 questions about their motives for having sex and rating them — and they ranged from not wanting to make their partner upset to wanting to feel better about themselves. The couples were also asked to rate their relationship satisfaction, sexual desire, and sexual satisfaction.
The results? Interesting if you ask me and their answers depended on their reason to have sex, whether it was an “approach motive” (positive) or an “avoidance motive” (negative). On the days where the couple had sex and at least one person’s motivation was more of a positive approach (example: to feel closer to your partner), both felt more satisfied in their relationship and noted their sexual satisfaction was high as well. When at least one partner answered a more avoidance motive for having sex (example: I don’t want to say no again and make them upset), they both reported less satisfied both sexually and in the relationship as well as having less desire.
The results of this study makes me wonder if that age-old advice of scheduling it in to make sure you have sex with your partner at least sometime during the month is the best approach? It seems both parties are happier when they both want it for positive reasons and to me, doing it “because it’s been a while” or “because I should”, doesn’t seem to be too positive to me.
The truth is, couples have all kids of motivations to have sex and a study published in the August 2007 issue of Archives of Sexual Behavior titled “Why Humans Have Sex” found 237 different motivations for couples to make love. These reasons were categorized into 4 major categories with 13 different sub-categories and had a lot of range.
12 Real Motivations for Couples to Make Love 1 of 13
Here are 12 of the 237 different motivations couples have to make love as outlined in the study "Why Do Humans Have Sex" published in the August 2007 issue of Archives of Sexual Behavoir.
Exercise and Stress 2 of 13
"It seems like a good exercise," which would be under the Physical category in the study.
Pleasure 3 of 13
"It's exciting" is another reason given that the researchers have categorized as a Physical reason.
Experience 4 of 13
"I was curious about sex" is another one for the Physical category researchers outlined.
Desire 5 of 13
"The person was a good dancer" seems like a good reason to be in the Physical category.
Practical 6 of 13
"I wanted to have a baby" was a reason the study uncovered, which they've categorized as Goal Based.
Social Standing 7 of 13
"I wanted to be popular" is a motivation behind having sex, which was categorized as Goal Based.
Revenge 8 of 13
Another Goal Based reason which was uncovered in the study was "I wanted to give someone a sexually transmitted disease", which is, well -- scary!
Love and Committment 9 of 13
"I wanted to feel connected" is one of the reasons given which was placed in the Emotional category
Expression 10 of 13
People said a motivation behind having sex with their partner that's categorized as Emotional was "I wanted to say thank you."
Self-Esteem 11 of 13
The fourth category for motivations behind sex is Insecurity based and "I wanted the attention" falls under that category.
Duty or Pressure 12 of 13
Another Insecurity based motivation for sex was "My partner kept insisting".
To Guard 13 of 13
If someone is worried about their partner cheating, their motivation would fall under the Insecurity category and would include "I want to keep my partner from straying".
Photo credits: photostock
Sources: “Getting It On Versus Getting It Over With Sexual Motivation, Desire, and Satisfaction in Intimate Bonds“; Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin; October 2013 | “Why Humans Have Sex” ; Archives of Sexual Behavior; August 2007
H/T: Wall Street Journal
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Devan is a freelance writer living in Toronto, Ontario with her husband, three kids and expecting baby #4 at the end of this year. Read more from Devan on Babble and “like” Accustomed Chaos on Facebook!