The Motivation for Sex Can Impact the Satisfaction of the Experience

C. Price
C. Price Updated:
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Why do you have sex? For pleasure? For companionship? For another reason?

According to a new study from the University of Toronto, the motivations behind why we have sex can affect how much enjoyment we experience in the process.

Social psychologist Amy Muise led the research, identifying the two basic motivations for having sex as “avoidance” and “approach.”

For the approach method, a partner typically seeks to increase the intimacy and chase their desire. For avoidance, the motivation is linked to issues like not wanting to disappoint a partner.

The findings suggest when people engage in sex for approach goals, they experience greater satisfaction sexually and in the relationship. However, when sex is performed for avoidance goals, a lower level of satisfaction occurs.


“When people engage in sex for approach

goals, they experience greater satisfaction.”

Participants in one experiment were presented with eight possible scenarios to consider.

Each of the 517 individuals involved were asked to rate specific motivations for sex and then rate their partner’s satisfaction, both sexually and in terms of the relationship.

Published this month in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, the research also involved follow-up experiments. In one, 108 heterosexual couples from Canada kept a journal about their experiences for two weeks.

In each follow-up, the results supported the original findings.

Muise is among the first to investigation what specifically drives people to sex beyond the standard genetic hard-wiring.

Similar research was previously conducted by Dr. Cindy Meston at the University of Texas at Austin, where she sought to better understand how gender plays a role in the motivations.

“The top three reasons for having sex were the same in both genders,” Meston said. “They were having it for love, for commitment and for physical gratification.”

Source: The University of Toronto. Photo source: