Sunday, July 13, 2008

Why have sex

Interrupting the acting out cycle requires awareness of the payoffs for sex. This is essentially answering the question “Why have sex?” The classic scripts/reasons for sex have typically been reduced to three themes: procreation, relational and recreational. In other words, people have sex to “make babies,” to build a relationship, or to have fun. While these reasons for having sex are over-simplified it is important for each individual to uncover some of the reasons they have sex. In some circumstances, the reasons for having sex may highlight clinical issues, patterns of behaviors, high risk situations, thinking errors or feelings that need to be addressed. This is a much more difficult task than you may think. To put this in perspective, a recent journal article identified 237 reasons a person has sex. After analyzing the data, their research identified four groups of reasons of why people have sex. The factors and the identified subfactors are:
  1. Physical Reasons with 4 subfactors: Stress Reduction, Pleasure, Physical Desirability, and Experience Seeking. .
  2. Goal Attainment with 4 subfactors: Resources, Social Status, Revenge, and Utilitarian.
  3. Emotional reasons with 2 subfactors: Love and Commitment and Expression.
  4. Insecurity subfactors with 3 subfactors: Self-Esteem Boost, Duty/Pressure, and Mate Guarding.

Within each factor are a number of subfactors that reflect the various concepts. The subfactors can help you reveal and/or assess various reasons for having sex. For example, if stress reduction is one reason why you’re caught in a compulsive cycle, examining the sources of stress in your life may provide insight into the cycle as well as reduce the possibility of future relapse. As you continue, review your sexual timeline/sexual history. Examine various incidents where you acted out. Examine which reasons for sexual behavior may be relevant. As you reflect on the reasons, examine the thoughts/assumptions that are present. If, as another example, a reason for sexual behavior is getting a self-esteem boost, examine what are the thoughts and feelings associated with the goal seeking behavior.


Meston, C. & Buss, D. (2007) Why Humans Have Sex. Archives of Sexual Behavior) 36:477–507. DOI 10.1007/s10508-007-9175-2

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