The Top 20 Reasons People Have Sex
Sexual motives go far beyond the 'Big Three' -- love, pleasure, and making babies.
The Difference Between the Sexes continued...
"Men often start out being body centered," says University of Hartford adjunct psychology professor Janell Carroll. "But that changes later on. As men reach their 40s, 50s, and 60s, their relationship becomes more important."
Richard Carroll has been counseling couples with sexual issues for more than two decades. "Women actually become more like men over time in that often, early on, sex is about initiating, developing, strengthening, and maintaining relationships, but in a long-term relationship they can actually focus on pleasure."
Despite these general observations, research also suggests that there has been a big convergence in sexual attitudes among men and women in recent years. In 1985, Janell Carroll and colleagues found that most college-aged males had casual sex for physical reasons without emotional attachments. She repeated many of the same study questions to a new audience in 2006.
"Instead of men and women being at opposite ends of the sexual spectrum, they are now coming together," she says. "More women might be having sex for physical reasons, but many more men were more likely to say they had sex for emotional reasons."
20 Reasons People Have Sex
Stressed out? Have sex. Stress reduction is one of the leading reasons Americans, particularly men, say they have sex, Richard Caroll says. The review, published online in Sexuality & Culture, shows other most frequently cited reasons for having sex include:
- Boosting mood and relieving depression
- Enhancement of power
- Enhancement of self-concept
- Experiencing the power of one’s partner
- Feeling loved by your partner
- Fostering jealousy
- Improving reputation or social status
- Making money
- Making babies
- Need for affection
- Partner novelty
- Peer pressure or pressure from partner
- Reducing sex drive
- Sexual curiosity
- Showing love to your partner
- Spiritual transcendence
Why Study Sex?
Understanding why people seek sex is not always a simple task. Most studies have involved college undergraduates, a "sample of convenience" for university researchers but one that is often very limiting. Young men and women typically haven't been in very committed relationships and are in the process of discovering their sexuality. Their answers to "why do you have sex" are often greatly tied to the image of themselves and their social relationships, says Richard Carroll. This can change over time.
But such knowledge can improve a couple's sex life.
"Understanding these differences in motivations is very important. It helps us understand what's going on in the sexual relationship and treat sexual disorders. Very often, you find the source of the problem can be traced to the particular motivation," Richard Carroll says.
If you need help, you can find a qualified sex therapist in your area through organizations such as the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapist (AASECT) or The Society for Sex Therapy and Research.