Do you believe in sexual destiny? Or are you more the type to think that like most things in life, achieving sexual satisfaction in your relationship takes a bit of hard work? What is the key to a happy sex life?
These kinds of “sexpectations” are the subject of a new study from the University of Toronto, which concludes that, in general, happiness in the bedroom comes more readily to those who adopt a sexual growth frame of mind (the hard work part) rather than to those of us who hold tight to the “one true love” view of relationships.
“People who believe in sexual destiny are using their sex life as a barometer for how well their relationship is doing, and they believe problems in the bedroom equal problems in the relationship as a whole,” says Jessica Maxwell, PhD candidate in the Department of Psychology at the University of Toronto and lead author of the study. “Whereas people who believe in sexual growth not only believe they can work on their sexual problems, but they are not letting it affect their relationship satisfaction.”
Researchers looked at data from 1,896 individuals across six studies in sexuality to uncover participants’ implicit beliefs about relationships and sexuality. What they found were two overriding and unique attitudes, summed up in a relationship nutshell as the workers and the dreamers.
“Individuals high in sexual growth beliefs think that sexual satisfaction is attained from hard work and effort, whereas individuals high in sexual destiny beliefs think that sexual satisfaction is attained through finding a compatible sexual partner,” say the study’s authors whose research is published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
As one might suspect, the study found that compared to those who believe in sexual growth, the believers in sexual destiny tend to have, in general, a less happy sex life and be less satisfied with their relationships.
The researchers chalk this up to the inevitable change in relationship dynamics which often occurs once the initial honeymoon period comes to an end and partners are forced to deal with differences in personalities, goals and desires, both in and out of the bedroom. The problem for the sexual destiny-types is that once the rough patches come along, they are more liable to question the whole relationship, thinking that perhaps this one wasn’t “written in the stars,” a sign of dysfunctional thinking, says Maxwell.
“We know that disagreements in the sexual domain are somewhat inevitable over time,” says Maxwell. “Your sex life is like a garden, and it needs to be watered and nurtured to maintain it.”
The study`s authors say that their results show how healthy relationships can benefit from counselling sessions which dig into a couple`s unconscious assumptions about sexual satisfaction so as to promote better understanding about the kinds of steps that need to be taken to keep the relationship humming along smoothly.
“Overall, these results provide novel evidence that individuals’ lay beliefs about maintaining sexual satisfaction are important for understanding the quality of their sex lives and relationships,” say the study’s authors.