Wouldn’t it be nice if we knew what other people were thinking? But since we are a long way from mastering the art of telepathy, we’re all going to have to keep guessing. However, modern psychology – which has made extensive studies into the sexual behaviour of both men and women – can help us make the best guess by predicting, or at least go some way to understanding, the underlying motives and chemical reactions that happen during courtship, ongoing relationships, and even sex itself.
When it comes to sex, there are plenty myths floating around. It’s easy to fall prey to the rumours and misconceptions that surround attraction, sexual activity, flirting, and the social and biological tendencies of both men and women. Helping to dispel this misinformation, there’s actually a great deal of scientific research into the psychology of sex if you know where to look( we’re talking more Psychology Today, less Cosmopolitan). All of the information presented below, alone, comes from from doctors, scientists and therapists working in 2014, and revealing interesting facets of interhuman relationships and communication. The world of romance, sex and love is still a fuzzy world, but these 10 facts might help to make things a little more clear. If they don’t, they’ll at least surprise you.
10. Actions speak much louder than words.
55% of communication doesn’t happen with words; it happens with body language. Anything from crossed arms to looking at your phone instead of someone’s eyes are good indications that a person is either not listening, is not interested in or is avoiding a conversation. Knowing the difference between good and bad body language could mean a great deal of help in a flirting situation. Positive signs a woman may show a man include facing him, leaning towards him, touching her hair, smiling and eye contact. These mannerisms are very common in men as well. If these body gestured are being shared by both men and women in a social situation, it’s safe to say the sparks are flying. The tone of voice communicates plenty too; about 38% of your meaning is loaded in tone, while only 7% of meaning actually comes from your words.
9. Cheating isn’t (necessarily) in your DNA.
Men often fit the stereotype of being the first to cheat. But are they always the first to be unfaithful? Research has shown that women are often just as likely, or more likely, to cheat, especially if they have a guarantee that their partner will never know about it. According to sex therapist Dr. Megan Fleming, cheating is much more likely to happen as a result of the quality of a relationship rather than biological genetic factors. In other words, not all men have an evolutionary predisposition to cheat, and neither do women. Although chemical factors such as testosterone levels may come into play, as well as a particular thrill-seeking gene that may contribute to the urge to cheat, the health (or lack thereof) of a relationship is what matters most when infidelity is involved.
8. Fakers Beware
A lot of people—men and women—could win an Oscar for their performances in bed. Numerous studies have shown that women report faking an orgasm at least once in their sexual lives. Men – about 25 percent of them -have reported it too. Beyond the common excuses for faking such as being too tired, or wanting to protect a partner’s emotions, the ultimate reason could be how people really think of sex. According to some, if there’s no orgasm, “real” sex never really happened. The definition of sex by orgasm leads to what psychologists are calling the “orgasmic imperative.” This is the need to make yourself, or your partner, orgasm every time. The more you succumb to the orgasmic imperative, the more you think an orgasm is absolutely necessary in all sexual encounters, and the more likely more orgasms will be faked more often.
7. Sex is Power
There are many ways power is represented in social situations. For men and women, sex often becomes an arena where power is fought for, won, and lost. Many of us know the acts, gestures, and behaviours during sex that tend to symbolize dominance, power, and control. With the more lewd acts often associated with adult entertainment, but still evident in normal sex, a desire to shock or even humiliate a partner can grow to dysfunction, especially if both people are not getting the same satisfaction. Although little empirical data exists that quantifies why certain sexual acts are performed time and time again, it’s been suggested that the desire for power may be the root. But power isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It can be also be a source of tremendous arousal and satisfaction for both partners in the right context. It could even strengthen a struggling sex life. When used in the wrong way, however, the power drive has been linked to the motivation behind sexual harassment.
6. A little Nonsense Now and Then
It was Roald Dahl, the writer behind beloved novels such as Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, who said: “A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men.” It’s relished by women, too, of course, and just because we might all be enjoying ourselves alone. Studies have actually shown that women who use a toy during alone time have an increased sex drive, and it can make sexual gratification more potent and enjoyable in the long term. Contrary to popular opinion, men shouldn’t necessarily feel inadequate when they know their partner is using a toy. More studies have shown that women can be more sexually satisfied if men know and accept the fact that women play with ‘toys’. Psychologically, being more open generally leads to a more satisfying relationship.
5. Good girls like bad guys
The concept of the “bad boy” is well known. That is, the idea that a woman is often more attracted to a man who might be a rebel, plays by his own rules, or is generally less kind to other people, even to women specifically. It might hurt the nice guys to hear it, but this could actually be true – but only under certain circumstances. A study published in Psychological Science suggests that women are more keen on hitting on bad guys, but only when they’re ovulating. Around this time they are more “flirty” with the “sexy cad” type rather than the “sexy dad.” In a study, actors portraying the sexy cad behaved in a more masculine and charismatic way towards the women being surveyed, while the sexy dad was played as more family-friendly and caring. Ovulating women consistently behaved more openly with the sexy cad than the sexy dad. They also reported that they would be interested in a short-term relationship with the sexy cad. All in all, at least when a woman’s fertility is high, they will ultimately favour the bad boy over the nice guy.
4. Was it Good for You?
People aren’t always selfish. Almost everyone wants their partner to feel satisfied. But that doesn’t mean it’s always a sure thing. Men are far more likely to reach orgasm during sex and casual flings than women are, and this discrepancy has been the subject of debate in the scientific community. Why aren’t women having orgasms? Another, perhaps better question, is when do they? Many factors come into play that influence whether a woman will reach that point, such as how many times she’s been with that partner, if she wanted or did not want a relationship, what other activities are happening in bed, and how she feels about the person she is sleeping with. This data helps to dispel the long-standing myth that the size of a certain body part is the defining factor, or that a woman simply doesn’t like the man. Well, it could be that, too. Still, it’s a little more complicated, folks and for women it’s heavily psychological – one theory states that a full 90% of problems in attaining orgasm are psychological.
3. The Fluidity of Sex
Sexual fluidity is the idea that a person is prone to different sexual responses in their lifetime regarding who they are attracted to, who they go to bed with, and how they identify themselves in a sexual context. Women are often pegged as being the most sexually fluid, while men have been considered relatively rigid in their sexuality. But new studies are showing that men’s sexual habits are less defined than we previously thought. Dr Lisa Diamond at the 2014 SPSP Sexuality Pre-Conference said that, based on a study she conducted in Salt Lake City, there aren’t many differences in the sexual fluidity between men and women. For example, more than half the participants who identified as gay or lesbian reported that they are not solely attracted to people of the same sex. A good percentage of gay men and women also reported that they had sex with someone of the opposite gender within the last year at the time of the study. Where there’s black and white, there’s also grey.
2. Watching it isn’t bad!
Is it good? Is it bad? Will it scar people for life? Can it turn normal people into sexual misfits? Despite our moral predilections, some studies suggest that watching adult entertainment may not be so bad after all. According to psychiatrist Dr. David Ley and his study published in Current Sexual Health Reports, the real reasons for addiction to adult entertainment are actually largely ignored. In fact, according to Ley, the majority of sound research into the addiction has shown positive effects outweighing the negative. Socially, watching adult entertainment can lead to a greater acceptance of modern variations of genders and new values. In turn, this could lead to more healthy and positive relationships.
1. On the Rebound
What better way to get over someone than to simply meet someone else? This is often the go-to remedy by many college students to soothe a broken heart. Being on the rebound is when you have sex shortly after what was probabaly a long, committed relationship, in order to “get over it.” In a study published in Archives of Sexual Behaviour, female college students in their freshmen year were asked to keep a diary of their sexual activity for three months after a breakup. Out of 66 percent of the woman who reported having sex in the three-month period, one-third of them did so for reasons of revenge or as a rebound. The study suggests that having sex on the rebound is a fairly common activity. Whether to help get over a breakup, restore self worth, or to get revenge on the person who did the breaking up, losing a partner is probably a huge motivating factor to have a casual fling.