How Likely Is Your Partner to Cheat?

how likely is your partner to cheat


A fear of sexual failure combined with a lack of concern about sexual consequences makes both men and women more likely to cheat on their partners, a new study finds.

While it may seem counterintuitive that someone with performance anxiety would seek out something extra on the side, insecure cheaters might look for risky situations to boost their sexual arousal, researchers reported online June 11 in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior. Or they may be trying to avoid the baggage of their sexual anxiety.

“People who score high on this [trait] may feel less pressure when they’re engaging with a person who doesn’t know their sexual history,” study researcher Kristen Mark, a doctoral candidate at Indiana University, told LiveScience.

Identifying infidelity

Estimates of how many cheaters exist differ based on how cheating is defined. However, several nationally representative studies in the 1990s put the numbers at about 20 percent to 25 percent of men and 10 percent to 15 percent of women. In the past five to seven years, however, the cheating gender gap has closed, Mark said, with women cheating at similar rates as men. [10 Surprising Sex Statistics]

Numerous factors play a role in infidelity, including money (high earners are more likely to cheat) and the health of the couple’s relationship (partners in ill relationships are more likely to stray). But the new study finds that a person’s sexual personality is more important than demographic or relationship factors.

Using an online survey, Mark and her colleagues asked 506 monogamous men and 416 monogamous women about their relationship quality, sexual behaviors and whether they’d cheated in their current relationship. The median age of the study participants was 31, and half were married.

Both genders cheated at similar levels, the survey revealed: 23 percent of men and 19 percent of the women said they had done something sexual with a third party that could jeopardize their relationship if their partner ever found out. People who had cheated were about half as likely to be religious than non-cheaters, and slightly more likely to be employed. Unsurprisingly, cheating was also associated with unhappy relationships.

Sexual personality

But most important of all were the participants’ sexual personalities. Men who reported that they easily became sexually excited were more likely to cheat. For every unit increase in sexual excitability, propensity to stray went up 4 percent. Women’s sexual excitability wasn’t related to cheating, though their relationship satisfaction was. Being unhappy in a relationship or feeling incompatible with a partner increased the likelihood that a woman would cheat by between 2.6 percent and 2.9 percent.

For both men and women, fear of sexual consequences and anxiety about sexual performance influenced infidelity. When people had little concern about the consequences of sex—including pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and being caught Tweeting pictures of your crotch to strangers — they were more likely to step out on their partner. One unit of increase in concern on this scale made women 13 percent less likely to cheat and men 7 percent less likely to cheat.
Anxiety about one’s own sexual performance had the opposite effect. People who worried a lot about their ability to stay aroused or orgasm cheated more often—women by 8 percent for every increase in concern about their sexual function and men by 6 percent.

Your cheatin’ heart

The important takeaway, Mark said, is that understanding sexual personality is important to understanding infidelity. If you’re worried about, say, marrying a politician because he or she might cheat on you, you might be better off looking at the person’s attitudes in bed than his or her day job.

“We found that some of those demographics were important,” Mark said. “But once you included all these other variables, we realized quickly that they weren’t nearly as important, and their relative importance disappeared.”

This post was originally on Fox News.


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Startling infidelity numbers: Does ‘happily ever after’ exist?

startling infidelity numbers

Arnold. Ashton. Anthony.  When it comes to the ABCs of infidelity, one thing is certain: It’s only a matter of days – maybe minutes – before another extramarital scandal rocks the headlines.

With brand new stories of celebrity and political infidelity hitting the newsstands every week, one can’t help but wonder if happily-ever-after is a big, fat myth. After all, if this is what we’re seeing regularly in our glossy magazines and on TV, what’s happening behind closed doors? Is monogamy just too much to ask?

Over at Good in Bed, we’ve been curious to learn how people truly feel about monogamy these days. As a standard that has held sway for so long, is everyone really just dismissing it as obsolete?

Working with the definition of monogamy as a relationship in which two partners are romantically and sexually exclusive, we surveyed 2,321 people (1,394 men and 921 women), ranging in age from 18 to 73. The majority of the participants were married (56.3 percent).

The results of the survey? Some of our intriguing findings include:
• Almost two-thirds said they believed that their current partner was their “partner for life.”
• More than half believed forming monogamous relationships is a part of human nature and that relationships would be healthier if people valued monogamy more.
• About 78 percent agreed being monogamous helps a relationship grow over time.
• Fifty-six percent said they simply assume monogamy with a partner, while just 13 percent said they had explicitly negotiated it.
• More than 90 percent believed monogamy is a choice.

Despite their professed commitment to monogamy, however; many of the respondents had also grappled with infidelity:
• About half admitted to having had a partner cheat on them, either sexually or emotionally.
• Forty-two percent confessed to having engaged in infidelity themselves.
• Half of people who had been cheated ended their relationship as a result, but 70 percent of people who admitted cheating did stay in the relationship—and 54 percent believed that their partner never discovered the infidelity.

While a large majority of survey respondents still believed wholeheartedly in monogamy, an even greater percentage of them believed that monogamy was a choice. And sometimes it was a choice that was made alone. More than half of survey respondents had been cheated on in the past, and a little less than half had cheated on their partner. When asked what led them astray, the top three answers were curiosity, lack of sexual novelty and boredom.

Of course, these issues are nothing new. It’s why I — and countless other experts — often recommend an injection of sexual adventurousness when things become stale. Still, many in long-term relationships assume their relationship rut is an indicator that monogamy itself is a flawed cultural ideal. In fact, married survey participants had significantly more negative attitudes toward monogamy than participants who were seriously dating one person. Is a growing disenchantment with monogamy inevitable?

Then there were those couples who had dipped a toe into the world of polyamory. Though only a small percent of those surveyed had tried an open relationship before, 40 percent of respondents were open to trying such an arrangement in the future.

Either way, it seems that traditional values haven’t completely disappeared. In fact, most of the survey participants believed in the concept of soul mates — the idea that there is one person out there for every other person on earth. It’s a surprising show of idealism and sentimentality in a world that’s come to embrace the unconventional.

Still, despite what sappy love songs and uplifting rom-coms would have you believe, relationships don’t float along on a cloud of happily-ever-after. Regardless of the side you take, soul mates or not, relationships take work and it is important to be prepared to deal with the ebbs and flows.

So before giving up on monogamy entirely, ask yourself: Am I doing all the heavy lifting necessary to make this work?

What are your attitudes towards monogamy? Feel free to hop over to Good in Bed and participate in the survey.

This post was originally on Fox News.

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Sexual Compatibility: The Importance to Your Satisfaction

Folk wisdom gives us mixed-messages when it comes to compatibility. We hear phrases like “birds of a feather flock together” telling us we need to be compatible with a partner in order to be successful. Then we hear contradictory phrases like “opposites attract” telling us we need not be similar to our partner, but rather different for relational success.

Although compatibility isn’t necessarily a synonym to similarity, they are certainly in the same family.

Perceived sexual compatibility is defined as the extent to which a couple perceives they share sexual beliefs, preferences, desires, and needs with their partner. Another form of sexual compatibility is the extent to which similarities exist between actual turn ons and turn offs for each partner emotionally, cognitively, and behaviorally.

Perceiving sexual compatibility with a partner has been shown to be related to sexual satisfaction, such that the more sexually compatible you are, the more sexually satisfied you are. And researchers have consistently found that sexual satisfaction is also significantly positively related to relationship satisfaction; when one increases (or decreases), the other tends to follow.

Considering the extent to which sexual compatibility contributes to satisfaction in our relationships, it is somewhat surprising there isn’t more research on the topic.

The majority of the research in this area has examined perceived sexual compatibility and it has been found to be related to sexual satisfaction as I mentioned above, but also communication, sexual desire, and sexual functioning, among others.

Despite this focus on perceived sexual compatibility in current research, researchers as early as Ellis in 1953 suggested that one of the main sources of sexual incompatibility were inconsistent preferences for specific sex acts between partners.

So what about compatibility of turn ons and turn offs? It may matter when it comes to being sexually compatible with your partner, as Ellis suggested. If one of you always wants sex with the lights on but one of you always wants sex with the lights off, it may impact your compatibility and perhaps also your satisfaction.

However, research that I’ve conducted with colleagues at University of Guelph found that perceived compatibility was a more important predictor of both sexual and relationship satisfaction than compatibility of turn ons and turn offs. Regardless of whether you like to engage in the same sexual behaviors as your partner, as long as you perceive that you are compatible, you’ll be sexually and relationally satisfied.

This focus on perception isn’t new. Some argue that the perception of a situation is the reality of the situation, regardless of how it may seem to others.

Also, perception isn’t just important in terms of sexual compatibility and its predictive ability of sexual satisfaction. Gottman has suggested that perception of personality differences, not actual personality differences, is a key component for its predictive ability of relationship satisfaction. Gottman has also found that it is only when a relationship isn’t going very well that partners perceive their partner’s personality is to blame.

Perhaps it is only when the sexual side of a relationship isn’t going very well that partners perceive they aren’t sexually compatible with their partner in terms of their behavioral preferences.

So if you meet someone new, and after discussing what you do and don’t like in the bedroom you find some inconsistencies, don’t cut and run too fast! Providing you can perceive yourselves to be sexually compatible, the compatibility of your turn ons and turn offs don’t matter much to satisfaction.

This post was originally on Psychology Today.

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Does Desire Really Decrease With Length of Relationship?

In the opening paragraph of Esther Perel’s book, Mating in Captivity, she writes:

“The story of sex in committed modern couples often tells of a dwindling desire and includes a long list of sexual alibis, which claim to explain the inescapable death of eros.”

It is this idea, that sexual desire dwindles when in a committed relationship, that Perel successfully tackles in her book. Popular perception suggests that committed relationships mark the end of sex. Yet research shows that when asked, many people indicate sexual desire as a key feature of romantic love.

The work of myself and others in the field suggests to me that sexual desire ebbs and flows throughout life and relationships.

does desire really decrease


Research by Murray and Milhausen (2012) recently tackled the length of relationship and desire connection, and found that length of relationship (in couples who were together for an average of 2 years) impacted sexual desire for women, but not men.

In research by Klusmann (2002), men’s sexual desire tended to remain high while women’s sexual desire is found to decrease as early as one year into the relationship.

In research I’ve conducted, I found that length of relationship (in couples who were together for an average of 4 years) didn’t impact sexual desire for women or men, and women and men were equally likely to be the member of the couple with lower sexual desire relative to their partner. And in interviews with women in a relationship for a minimum of 5 years, myself and colleagues have found that there are a number of factors that impact the ebb and flow of sexual desire.

Perhaps another reason the idea exists around sexual desire diminishing with length of relationship is the strong sexual desire in passionate love that is replaced by increased intimacy in companionate love (said to occur around two and a half years).

All of this also makes me wonder, is it the relationship length that is decreasing the desire? Or simply the other milestones (kids, moving in,career moves) that happen to correspond to relationship length? And how do we keep the desire in our relationships over the long haul?

Bringing it back to Mating in Captivity, where open and loving relationships are accompanied with dull sex lives, when we love someone, we feel responsible and secure. Responsibility and security clash with desire. So as the length of our relationship increases, we become closer to the individual, we have a greater sense of security, and we lose that animalistic sense of “throw down” that was such a large part of early sexual scripts in the relationship. As Perel puts it, “fire needs air, and many couples don’t leave enough air.”

Creating that space, or “air”, is perhaps one of the things that can be done in relationships when the desire is at a low ebb. But also just realizing that the ebbs of desire will be accompanied by upward flows is one way to ensure expectations for sex don’t get in the way of pleasure from sex, especially in the context of long-term relationships.

This post was originally on Psychology Today.

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Orgasm Shouldn’t Be The Goal of Sex . . . But Should Orgasm Be Avoided?

I’ve always been a proponent of avoiding goal-oriented sex, particularly when it comes to orgasm. When couples or individuals come to me asking questions that concern problems or dissatisfaction with orgasm, one of the first things I suggest is to shift focus from orgasm to the overall act of intimacy. Enjoy the moment, I say.

When I saw an ABC news segment this past July on Karezza, I was intrigued. But when I received a handful of separate emails in the past few months asking me about Karezza, I was motivated to find out more.

Karezza, a word that may seem like the latest technique in sex therapy, is actually a word that dates back to 1896. The word Karezza is derived from the Italian word for “caress”, and was first coined by Alice B. Stockham, M.D.. In Dr. Stockham’s book on the topic, she writes that Karezza “makes a plea for a better birthright for the child, and aims to lead individuals to seek a higher development for themselves through most sacred relations.” Obviously a lot has changed since 1896 when it comes to sex, relationships, and society. Dr. Stockham’s book discusses how sex should be about connecting to another’s soul, a lot of which really reminded me of the practice of tantric sex. The other seminal book on the topic was published in 1931 by John William Lloyd where he defines Karezza as “controlled non-seminal intercourse”.

Karezza is a technique of gentle intercourse where orgasms are discouraged due to their neurochemical effects that leave one exhausted, rather than rejuvenated. The levels of dopamine rise in anticipation for sex and then plummet after sex resulting in the “I’m done here” feeling. It is what scientists refer to as The Coolidge Effect in males (it has not, to my knowledge, been applied to females) where males express a renewed sexual interest in a novel female after satiation with a familiar female.

So by cutting out the dopamine high, couples are thought to avoid the “hangover” that comes after an orgasm and not have the same satiation factor with a familiar partner. However, thinking of sex and relationships in a vacuum of neurochemicals, independent of their context, may not be ideal.

There is a large body of recent research that supports the interconnected nature of sexual and relationship satisfaction. Additionally,recent research has found that the most important predictor of sexual enjoyment for women was orgasm, and the odds of reporting enjoyment were five to six times higher if orgasm was experienced.

Certainly, satisfaction can be achieved by means other than orgasm, but why cut something out that provides pleasure? With how many barriers we have to pleasure and satisfaction as it is, specifically avoiding orgasm may not be an ideal solution. However, if you find that you’re very orgasm-centric in your approach to sex with your partner and you’re both looking to try something new, it might be an interesting alternative.

Also, feel free to check out another Psychology Today blogger’s perspective on Karezza.

This post was originally on Psychology Today.

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What We Can Learn From Sexual Response Cycles

When it comes to sexual behavior, people frequently want to know what’s “normal”. There seems to be a natural tendency to want to compare one’s own sexual experience to the average sexual experience, perhaps in an attempt to gauge performance.

Understanding what is happening physiologically during a given sexual experience may or may not enhance the sexual experience; but one thing is for sure, it isn’t easy to understand what’s “normal” when it comes to sexual response.

Like many things sexual, there isn’t really a normal. To quote Kinsey:

“The only unnatural sex act is that which you cannot perform.”

Many are familiar with the Masters & Johnson sexual response cycle. This was the original sexual response cycle, published in 1966, based on observations of sexual responsivity during partnered and solo sexual activities. This model of sexual response is still the most commonly taught model, despite its mid-60s debut.

Masters & Johnson found that sexual response was divided into four phases: excitement, plateau, orgasm, and resolution. These four phases happened in a linear way, with one coming after the other. The sexual response cycle wasn’t complete without all four occurring (but women had the capability to have multiple orgasms, putting off resolution until all orgasms were complete).

Despite its (even current) wide use, there are some issues that have been identified with this model of sexual response. The model is entirely linear, with one component occuring prior to the next, in the same order. This is problematic because we just don’t work that way! The model completely ignores sexual desire and requires an orgasm to have occurred during sexual response (a very unrealistic expectation). Finally, the model is entirely physiological with no mention of relationship factors, cultural attitudes, or any other external contributors that may be crucial when considering sexual response.

In response to these criticisms, other researchers stepped up to try to explain human sexual response. First, Kaplan proposed the Triphasic Concept in 1979 by creating a model that included desire, excitement, and orgasm. However, this was still linear, still required orgasm, and raised the question of whether desire really came before arousal. Then, in 1997, Whipple & Brash-McGreer created the Circular Model that was specific to women. This cycle acknowledged that pleasure and satisfaction during one sexual experience can feed into the initiation of the next sexual experience. If pleasure and satisfaction were not met, it would decrease the desire for subsequent sexual interactions.

Though the Circular Model is an interesting approach, there is a newer model that myself and many other sex researchers and therapists rely on for explaining how sexual response works. This model was proposed byBasson in 2000 as the Non-Linear Model of sexual response. It is typically referred to for explaining women’s sexual response, but I think it proves equally useful when looking at men’s sexual response. Afterall, too often we think of men as overly-simplistic beings when it comes to sex.

Basson’s Non-Linear Model of sexual response incorporates the need for intimacy, acknowledges that desire can be reactive or spontaneous and may come either before or after arousal, recognizes that orgasms may contribute to satisfaction but aren’t necessary for satisfaction, and considers relationship factors that may impact the cycle as costs or rewards.

The inability to really define “normal” is one of my favorite aspects of Basson’s model. Women (and men) can experience sexual response in a variety of ways. Parts of the model are linear (e.g., arousal and stimulation occur prior to the experience of satisfaction), but other parts are circular and bidirectional (e.g., sexual desire may come before or after arousal and the two may feed into each other).

Three main take-home messages we can learn from studying sexual response cycles:

  1. Sexual pleasure and satisfaction aren’t reliant on orgasm…though orgasm may certainly be a nice bonus.
  2. Sexual desire doesn’t always have to come before sexual activity or arousal…sometimes getting physical and experiencing arousal will elicit desire.
  3. External factors such as relationship dynamics, intimacy, and weighing rewards and costs of sexual experience may play an important role in sexual response.

Try not to focus on “normal”. Instead, shift that focus to you and your partner’s sexual response and communicate your needs both inside and outside the bedroom.

This post was originally on Psychology Today.

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Different Types Of Female Orgasm: The Debate Continues

passionate orgasm

Long before I entered this field, sexual scientists have been debating whether there are different types of female orgasm. And the debate continues…

Some have distinguished between vaginal orgasms, g-spot orgasms, uterine orgasms, and clitoral orgasms as all being somehow qualitatively different than one another. Others have argued that there are differences between vaginal and clitoral orgasms. And others have argued that an orgasm is an orgasm is an orgasm and there shouldn’t be a label placed on one being superior or different than another (which, I should disclose upfront, tends to be my approach).

The research is fairly unclear regarding whether women experience qualitatively different types of orgasm. Research has shown that perhaps different contexts or stimulation of different sites may lead to a change in the intensity of orgasm, but very limited research has demonstrated difference in the physiological response associated with different types of orgasm.

Well, new research published in the Archives of Sexual Behaviorfound that when 265 women were asked about their orgasmic experience, they identified two distinct types of orgasm, to which the researchers,King and Belsky (who also has a blog on Psychology Today), named “surface” and “deep” orgasms.

The research was framed from an evolutionary standpoint, where different types of orgasm may have different adaptive significance, which is worth mentioning in order to put into context some of the interesting findings.

One evolutionary line of reasoning regarding the female orgasm is related to the existence of what’s called “orgasmic insuck”. This idea is at the core of the evolutionary claims around orgasm as a mechanism of female choice, where women experience a different type of orgasm (one that involves insuck) when with an evolutionarily-speaking preferred partner. Insuck is thought to help explain why only some types of orgasm have an adaptive significance.

Insuck is a pressure change between the vagina and uterus that involves a peristaltic action and allows females to preferentially select sperm from their male partner. And insuck doesn’t just happen in humans. Insuck has been found to occur in other mammals such as rats, cows, dogs, horses, rabbits, and macaques, lending more support to it being an adaptive function.

The study I mentioned earlier by King and Belsky was conducted to test the proposition that there are different kinds of female orgasms, to see if women could tell the difference when experiencing characteristics associated with insuck (such as internal sucking sensations), and to extend this by determining whether certain partner characteristics and behaviors are different depending on the type of female orgasm experienced.

As I mentioned, King and Belsky found that women did describe two qualitatively different “types” or orgasm: “surface” and “deep”. Additionally, they found that “deep” orgasms were associated with internal sensations similar to those experienced with the occurrence of insuck. The partners who the “deep” orgasms occurred with were perceived to be considerate, dominant, have a notably attractive smell, and provided firm penetration. So the male partners of women who experienced “deep” orgasms did demonstrate some of the evolutionarily relevant characteristics to support “deep” orgasms as an evolutionary trait.

Keep in mind, the researchers asked the women to recall their subjective experiences. There were no physiological measurements taken. Additionally, women were asked if they felt specific physiological reactions such as “internal sucking sensations” in order to attempt to measure insuck. What’s interesting about this is that most women can’t even match their level of subjective arousal to their level of physiological arousalbased on genital response. Therefore, I find it hard to believe a woman would be able to accurately distinguish an “internal sucking sensation” from any other physiological experience during an orgasm using a recall method.

Regardless of this limitation, an important take-away from this study is that we still have severely limited knowledge when it comes to the female orgasm.

Additionally, although there is not one way to experience orgasm, creating any sort of hierarchy of orgasm is not beneficial. Women experience orgasm differently from one another, and perhaps this experience is also different depending on the context. Using self-reports from women is limiting if the intent is to categorize, because we don’t know if one woman’s idea of “deep” is the same as another woman’s idea of “deep”.

The authors of this study suggest that sexual passion between partners is a non-accidental component of sexual functioning that has too frequently been missing in sex research, and I couldn’t agree more. This study contributes one piece to the incredibly complicated puzzle of female orgasm that is still missing a lot of pieces.

This post was originally on Psychology Today.

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Sexology: Is It Research or “Me”Search?

As a sex researcher, when my colleagues and I discuss how others perceive our area of study, welaugh at the number of questions we get from people ranging from whether we are into group sex, swinging, and promiscuity, to whether we were sexually abused as kids. In fact, research has demonstrated that the general public assumes that personal reasons are what motivate sexuality professionals to enter their field.1 So this begs the question, do we do this because we are more interested in sex than other folks? Or is that just a sterotype?

In the professions of psychology and public health (the two I’m most familiar with), many scholars admit to engaging in “me”search once in a while to spark their research curiosity. It makes sense, as many of the topic areas can easily be applied to one’s own life. Conducting “me”search when your topic of interest is sex can therefore raise a lot of eyebrows.

We are usually stuck debunking these myths one at a time, but now there is a study that empirically studied this phenomeon. The study was recently published in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy titled “Motivations and Sexual Attitudes, Experiences, and Behavior of Sexuality Professionals” by researchers Luria, Byers, Voyer, and Mock of Israel and Canada.2 This study aimed to examine the motivations for entering the field of sexology and the attitudes, experiences, and behavior of these professionals. The participants were 252 individuals from all over the world who were recruited from the meeting for the World Congress of Sexology.

Participants entered the field for diverse reasons. Many sexologists entered the field for reasons that were professional in nature, such as contributing to the field and bettering sexual health of the masses. The study found that only a small minority of sexologists entered the field for reasons that are stereotypically associated with it, such as gaining knowledge about their own sexuality, solving their own personal problems, or a need to feel unique.

Overall, the study found that sexologists had few differences from the general population. Childhood sexual experiences, quality of parent-child sexual communication, and rates of unwanted sexual experince in childhood were all similar to rates reported in the general population.

One benefit sexuality professionals do seem to enjoy is high sexual satisfaction and good sexual communication with their partner. Interestingly, this isn’t protective against experiencing sexual problems. The study found 45% of the women and 35% of the men reported regularly experiencing one or more sexual problems. This is in comparison to about 28% of men and 39% of women reporting experiencing one or more sexual problems in a community sample.

In terms of casual sex, less than 25% of sexologists surveyed had engaged in sex with a casual or anonymous partner within the past 2 years; this is slightly higher than previous research that found 23% of men and 11% of women recruited from the community had engaged in this behavior in the past year.3 Additionally, sexologists weren’t always as responsible with condom use as one might assume. Of those who engaged in casual sex, 20% reported that condom use wasn’t consistent. So, although this 80% consistent condom use with casual partners is higher than found among community samples, it isn’t as high as one might expect with the knowledge sexologists possess related to the importance of condom use.

For the most part, the idea of “me”search as motivation for entering the field was not supported by this study. It seems that overall, sexologists have similar experiences to that of the general population. I’m sure other sex researchers, therapists, counselors, and educators will be happy to now have a study to refer people to the next time assumptions are made about this field and the type of people who choose it as a career path.

Alfred Kinsey

Alfred Kinsey


1Poole, H., Giles, D. C., & Moore, K. (2004). Researching sexuality and sexual issues: Implications for the researcher? Sexual and RelationshipTherapy, 19, 79-86.
2Luria, M., Byers, E. S., Voyer, S. D., & Mock, M. (2013). Motivations and sexual attitudes, experiences, and behavior of sexuality professionals. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 39, 112-131.
3Mercer, C. H., Copas, A. J., Sonnenberg, P., Johnson, A. M., McManus, S., Erens, B., & Cassell, J. A. (2009). Who has sex with whom? Characteristics of heterosexual partnerships reported in a national probability survey and implications for STI risk. International Journal of Epidemiology, 38, 206-214.

This post was originally on Psychology Today.

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Single This Valentine’s Day? Who Cares.

Valentine’s Day is traditionally a day for love. But what is Valentine’s Day to those who aren’t in love? As someone with quite a few single Valentine’s Days under my belt (one particularly memorable one spent watching Silence of the Lambs with a fellow single girlfriend), I’ve felt a range of emotions about the day of love. Most years I haven’t really cared. But there have been a few where I’ve been left feeling pitied. Like the time the pizza for one I ordered was given to me for free because the pizza guy felt bad I was alone. Or the time my coupled friends invited me to their dinner party because they didn’t want me to be tragic by myself. I didn’t need the pity. I wasn’t tragic. Actually, I was fine. It seemed like it was everyone else who had the problem with it.

Thinking about this made me curious about what other people’s attitudes and perceptions were about Valentine’s Day. So, I put on my researcher hat and went to the literature to find answers. However, I didn’t find much! Very limited research has been conducted on the day of love. So, in collaborationwith other experts at Good in Bed, I conducted a survey of 1241 men and 852 women about their attitudes and beliefs about Valentine’s Day.

Participants overwhelmingly reported that it wasn’t at all important to be surrounded by people on Valentine’s Day as a single person, with 61% of the single participants, 56% of the casually dating participants, 71% of the separated participants, 50% of the divorced participants, and 57% of the widowed participants reporting that they were not at all concerned with being alone on Valentine’s Day. A very small minority of these groups reported feeling the need to curb loneliness by being surrounded by people on this day (less than 5% in each group). And although commonstereotypes about Valentine’s Day paint women as more attached to this holiday, there were no significant gender differences in response to this question.

There also doesn’t seem to be much pressure to celebrate Valentine’s Day, with the majority of both men and women reporting little to no pressure to celebrate the holiday. Just because the pressure is off to be surrounded by people or to celebrate Valentine’s Day, this doesn’t mean that sex is off the table for single or casually dating folks. More than half (53%) of casually dating folks and 50% of single folks were open to hooking up sexually with someone because it is Valentine’s Day.

Based on the results of this survey, Valentine’s Day isn’t a day of anxiety or loneliness for single people. This is pretty consistent with my personal experiences and anecdotal stories I hear from others. Perhaps it is the views of others taking pity on single folk that contributes to anxiety rather than any sort of actual distaste for a holiday like Valentine’s Day. In fact, a quarter of the full sample noted that Valentine’s Day was as much for friends and family that you love as romantic partners and 30% of the sample believed the holidays was simply commercialism at its finest.

My advice to you this Valentine’s Day is to not assume that single people are sad and alone today. Most of them are perfectly content in their happily single world.

This post was originally on Psychology Today.

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Kinsey Art Gallery Review – Private Eyes

kinsey art gallery review

A few years ago, at a conference for the Society of the Scientific Study of Sexuality, I had my first tour of The Kinsey Institute art gallery. Coincidently, the art show on exhibit at that time was the Kinsey Confidential exhibit. This exhibit was inspired by questions that readers of Kinsey Confidential asked, answered through artistic expression. At that time, I was unaware that I would become a student at IU, let alone eventually be blogging about the newest art show on exhibit at The Kinsey Institute.

The current exhibit, on display now through April 2, 2010, is called Private Eyes: Amateur Works from The Kinsey Institute Collection. I’m certainly not an art expert, but I figured since this is an amateur show, it would be appropriate for me, an amateur art appreciator, to comment on my observations of the exhibit.

Amateur Erotic Art

Amateur art allows for a unique freedom for the artist to share their personality with the audience. There is no shortage of that in Private Eyes. The personalities, and in particular the sense of humor, of the artists are evident. As one of the curators of the art exhibit put it, “the unabashed lewdness and crudeness of these subterranean artifacts set them apart from professionally produced materials.”

Prison Inmate Art

A great deal of the work presented at Private Eyes was donated to The Kinsey Institute in the 1950s from prisoners across the USA. One very unique feature of the inmate art on display is the incredible creativity that was necessary to create such pieces. As you can imagine, prisoners would have minimal access to materials necessary to create art. However, this did not impact the complexity of what was produced. My personal favorite demonstration of creativity was a soap carving. The soap was carved into an incredibly detailed rendition of sexual intercourse with a goat.


In addition to the print art, there are also a number of structural artifacts on display at the gallery during this show. A constantly streamed video is playing to demonstrate how all of these homemade one-of-a-kind artifacts work.

There are also a number of creative erotic Valentines on display at Private Eyes that were donated to The Kinsey Institute. This exhibit would be a great Valentine’s Day date idea for those of you looking to get into the spirit of love this time of year!

Overall, I can assure you that making a trip to the Kinsey Institute Gallery to explore Private Eyes would be an experience you will not forget. It left me intrigued about the lives of those amateur artists who contributed their work to the exhibit…once you check it out, I have no doubt you’ll agree!

This post was originally on Kinsey Confidential.

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