Myth-busting Monday: people have few reasons for s*xual encounters; namely, procreation, romance, fun.
Metson and Buss from the University of Texas determined that there are 237 (!!!) reasons that people engage in sexual activity, from the mundane of physical pleasure to spiritual connection. (see more here: https://labs.la.utexas.edu/buss/files/2015/09/why-humans-have-sex-2007.pdf ) The researchers seperated participants into male or female (note that research is limited when it comes to non-binary folks) and noted that the 20 of the top 25 reasons for engaging in sex were exactly the same regardless of gender (though popular media might suggest otherwise, differences between genders are often inflated; learn more about the inflation of gender differences regarding sexuality in Not Always in the Mood https://bookshop.org/lists/sexuality-gender-health-wellness ). Reasons for engaging in intimate activities included expressing love for the person, having fun, experiencing pleasure, and arousal.
Ian Kerner, a sexuality therapist, delineates the purpose of sexual encounters as being procreation-oriented, recreational, relational, or, rec-relational (see So Tell Me About the Last Time You Had Sex https://bookshop.org/lists/sexuality-gender-health-wellness ). Of note, procreation was not on the top 50 reasons for sexual encounters in the Metson and Buss study, but some form of pleasure was. Which speaks to the importance of appropriate, pleasure-oriented sexuality education for young adults, rather than the current focus for many programs, which is disease and pregnancy oriented. (side note: As another favorite sexuality professional of mine, Dr. Sprankle, says focusing on STI avoidance in sex ed is like a cooking class focused only on salmonella prevention – we can do better; he’s fabulous, find him on IG @drsprankle)
Why do you engage in sexual activity? Have you ever considered what needs are being met for you via those engagements? And if so, have you communicated those needs to your partner/s? Or asked them their reasons? Not only does this allow you to know yourself and your partners more fully, but this knowledge can help when relationships are challenged with sexual issues. For example, desire discrepancy between couples (or couples+, for the relationship diverse) is common (I’ve read estimates that suggest 15-30% of couples have dealt with this). Understanding more about why you engage in intimate activities can help you meet those root needs in other ways when necessary, such as if your partner/s has/have a lower drive than you.
I just love that people came up with 237 reasons for engaging in sexual activity – this shows you how endlessly creative and diverse we all are. What reasons on the list surprise you most?
Wishing you all another happy #MythBustingMonday, community. Thanks for reading and learning about yourselves and the diversity of others, which only makes for a more loving, just, and compassionate world. #SexualWellnessIsAHumanRight
The above content is written by Dr. Allison Mitch, PT (DPT), sexuality counselor and educator (in supervision); copyright protected, please cite accordingly. The graphic is mine. To work with me or for more information, please email email@example.com
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*Please note that none of the above information is specific medical advice, but is meant as educational information only. If you have concerns about your health, please contact a trusted healthcare professional*