Sexual Motivation, pt. 1

couple-in-bed-getting-frisky

by Randall S. Frederick

Generally, when people find out my areas of study, they will begin to tell me all about their sex lives. I don’t mean in the casual sense either. Sometimes, I find myself trapped at a party hearing intimate details and periodically telling them, “I don’t need to know that, but thanks for the visual.” For dozens of reasons, Western culture talks about talking about sex – keeping it light and cool – but rarely addresses serious concerns, hangups, and desires that individuals have. Let’s not speak in the general sense, though. “Individuals” feels too distant. We – you and I – very often keep things light and topical but fail to address real sex. The kind of sex that isn’t great, but not a terrible way to spend an afternoon either. We don’t talk about sexual education, the gendered messages we received as child and which still plague us as adults. So we – you and I – sometimes drift through our days, allowing neuroses to develop until we happen upon someone who expresses interest in the sexual interests we – you and I – have and desperately want to talk about.

One of those areas people like to talk about is their level of desire. How often is often enough? Too much? Underneath these questions is the unspoken “Am I normal?” I like to ask what their level of sexual interest is. That’s normal – at least for them. What is their partner’s level of sexual interest? That’s normal too – for them. I also like to redirect the discussion to why sex is important to them – why do they want to have sex? Many laugh it off, saying “because it feels good.” But pressing them, sometimes they’re not really sure. “I guess I’m just doing it because I feel like I need to. Everyone else is talking about and telling me I should, so I don’t want to miss out.” Why do we have sex, though? Obviously “survival of humanity” and “feels good” and all that. Historically, people say to have babies, to feel good, and because they are in love. But what is the deeper motivation?

Before addressing that deeper motivation (see Sexual Motivation part 2, coming soon), look over the results of a 2007 study conducted by the University of Texas. In the study, 400 students and volunteers were asked why they had sex. After the full list, look over the top 20 reasons for men and the top 20 reasons for women and see if you relate.

  1. My friends pressured me into it.
  2. I wanted to end the relationship.
  3. I felt like it was my duty.
  4. I didn’t know how to say ‘‘no.’’
  5. I wanted to release anxiety/stress.
  6. I wanted to display submission.
  7. I wanted to please my partner.
  8. I wanted to feel attractive.
  9. I was curious about sex.
  10. I was curious about what the person was like in bed.
  11. I wanted to ‘‘gain control’’ of the person.
  12. I was competing with someone else to ‘‘get the person.’’
  13. I wanted to ensure the relationship was ‘‘committed.’’
  14. It was easier to ‘‘go all the way’’ than to stop.
  15. I wanted the attention.
  16. Everyone else was having sex.
  17. I was feeling lonely.
  18. I wanted to feel loved.
  19. I was ‘‘horny.’’
  20. I was tired of being a virgin.
  21. I was married and you’re supposed to.
  22. I wanted to have more sex than my friends.
  23. I wanted to make someone else jealous.
  24. I wanted to have a child.
  25. I wanted the person to love me.
  26. I was verbally coerced into it.
  27. I was physically forced to.
  28. The person was famous and I wanted to be able to say I had sex with him/her.
  29. My partner kept insisting.
  30. It feels good.
  31. My friends were having sex and I wanted to fit in.
  32. I was sexually aroused and wanted the release.
  33. I was attracted to the person.
  34. I felt like I owed it to the person.
  35. I wanted to show my affection to the person.
  36. I wanted to experience the physical pleasure.
  37. I wanted to express my love for the person.
  38. I wanted to have something to tell my friends.
  39. I was under the influence of drugs.
  40. I wanted to get rid of aggression.
  41. I wanted to make up after a fight.
  42. It’s “exciting,” adventurous.
  43. I wanted to gain acceptance from my friends.
  44. I wanted to feel closer to God.
  45. I desired emotional closeness “(i.e.,” intimacy).
  46. Someone dared me.
  47. It just seemed like ‘‘the thing to do.’’
  48. I was bored.
  49. It just happened.
  50. I was ‘‘in the heat of the moment.’’
  51. I wanted the adventure/excitement.
  52. I wanted the experience.
  53. I felt obligated to.
  54. It’s fun.
  55. I wanted to get even with someone “(i.e.,” get revenge).
  56. I wanted to be popular.
  57. It would get me gifts.
  58. I wanted to act out a fantasy.
  59. I hadn’t had sex for a while.
  60. The person was ‘‘available.’’
  61. I didn’t want to ‘‘lose’’ the person.
  62. I thought it would help ‘‘trap’’ a new partner.
  63. I wanted to make someone else jealous.
  64. I felt sorry for the person.
  65. I wanted to feel powerful.
  66. I wanted to ‘‘possess’’ the person.
  67. I wanted to release tension.
  68. I wanted to feel good about myself.
  69. I was slumming.
  70. I felt rebellious.
  71. I wanted to intensify my relationship.
  72. It seemed like the natural next step.
  73. I wanted to be nice.
  74. I wanted to feel connected to the person.
  75. I wanted to feel young.
  76. I wanted to manipulate him/her into doing something for me.
  77. I wanted him/her to stop bugging me about sex.
  78. I wanted to hurt/humiliate the person.
  79. I wanted the person to feel good about themselves.
  80. I didn’t want to disappoint the person.
  81. I was trying to ‘‘get over’’ an earlier person/relationship.
  82. I wanted to reaffirm my sexual orientation.
  83. I wanted to try out new sexual techniques or positions.
  84. I felt guilty.
  85. My hormones were out of control.
  86. It was the only way my partner would spend time with me.
  87. It became a habit.
  88. I wanted to keep my partner happy.
  89. I had no self-control.
  90. I wanted to communicate at a deeper level.
  91. I was afraid my partner would have an affair if I didn’t have sex with him/her.
  92. I was curious about my sexual abilities.
  93. I wanted a ‘‘spiritual’’ experience.
  94. It was just part of the relationship ‘‘routine’’.
  95. I wanted to lose my inhibitions.
  96. I got ‘‘carried away.’’
  97. I needed another ‘‘notch on my belt.’’
  98. The person demanded that I have sex with him/her.
  99. The opportunity presented itself.
  100. I wanted to see what it would be like to have sex while stoned “(e.g.,” on marijuana or some other drug).
  101. It’s considered ‘‘taboo’’ by society.
  102. I wanted to increase the number of sex partners I had experienced.
  103. The person was too ‘‘hot’’ (sexy) to resist.
  104. I thought it would relax me.
  105. I thought it would make me feel healthy.
  106. I wanted to experiment with new experiences.
  107. I wanted to see what it would be like to have sex with another person.
  108. I thought it would help me to fall asleep.
  109. I could brag to other people about my sexual experience.
  110. It would allow me to ‘‘get sex out of my system’’ so that I could focus on other things.
  111. I wanted to decrease my partner’s desire to have sex with someone else.
  112. It would damage my reputation if I said ‘‘no.’’
  113. The person was too physically attractive to resist.
  114. I wanted to celebrate something.
  115. I was seduced.
  116. I wanted to make the person feel better about themselves.
  117. I wanted to increase the emotional bond by having sex.
  118. I wanted to see whether sex with a different partner would feel different or better.
  119. I was mad at my “partner,” so I had sex with someone else.
  120. I wanted to fulfill a previous promise to my partner.
  121. It was expected of me.
  122. I wanted to keep my partner from straying.
  123. I wanted the pure pleasure.
  124. I wanted to dominate the other person.
  125. I wanted to make a conquest.
  126. I’m addicted to sex.
  127. It was a favor to someone.
  128. I wanted to be used or degraded.
  129. Someone offered me money to do it.
  130. I was drunk.
  131. It seemed like good exercise.
  132. I was pressured into doing it.
  133. The person offered to give me drugs for doing it.
  134. I was frustrated and needed relief.
  135. It was a romantic setting.
  136. I felt insecure.
  137. My regular partner is “boring,” so I had sex with someone else.
  138. I was on the ‘‘rebound’’ from another relationship.
  139. I wanted to boost my self-esteem.
  140. I wanted to get my partner to stay with me.
  141. Because of a bet.
  142. It was a special occasion.
  143. I wanted to get a special favor from someone.
  144. I wanted to get back at my partner for having cheated on me.
  145. I wanted to enhance my reputation.
  146. I wanted to keep warm.
  147. I wanted to punish myself.
  148. I wanted to break up a rival’s relationship by having sex with his/her partner.
  149. I wanted to stop my partners’ nagging.
  150. I wanted to impress friends.
  151. I wanted to achieve an orgasm.
  152. I wanted to brag to my friends about my conquests.
  153. I wanted to improve my sexual skills.
  154. I wanted to get a job.
  155. I wanted to get a raise.
  156. I wanted to get a promotion.
  157. I wanted to satisfy a compulsion.
  158. I wanted to make money.
  159. I wanted to keep my partner satisfied.
  160. I wanted to change the topic of conversation.
  161. I wanted to get out of doing something.
  162. I wanted to test my compatibility with a new partner.
  163. I wanted to get a partner to express love.
  164. I wanted to put the passion back into my relationship.
  165. I wanted to prevent a breakup.
  166. I wanted to become one with another person.
  167. I wanted to get a favor from someone.
  168. I wanted to breakup my relationship.
  169. I wanted to give someone else a sexually transmitted disease “(e.g.,” “herpes,” AIDS).
  170. I wanted to breakup another’s relationship.
  171. I wanted to avoid hurting someone’s feelings.
  172. I wanted to make myself feel better about myself.
  173. I wanted to get rid of a headache.
  174. I was afraid to say ‘‘no’’ due to the possibility of physical harm.
  175. I wanted to keep my partner from straying.
  176. I wanted to burn calories.
  177. I wanted to even the score with a cheating partner.
  178. I wanted to hurt an enemy.
  179. I wanted to feel older.
  180. I wanted to raise my self-esteem.
  181. It was an initiation rite to a club or organization.
  182. I wanted to become more focused on work – sexual thoughts are distracting.
  183. I wanted to say ‘‘I’ve missed you.’’
  184. I wanted to celebrate a birthday or anniversary or special occasion.
  185. I wanted to say ‘‘I’m sorry.’’
  186. I wanted to return a favor.
  187. I wanted to say ‘‘Thank you.’’
  188. I wanted to welcome someone home.
  189. I wanted to say ‘‘goodbye.’’
  190. I wanted to defy my parents.
  191. I wanted to relieve menstrual cramps.
  192. I wanted to relieve ‘‘blue balls.’’
  193. I wanted to get the most out of life.
  194. I wanted to feel feminine.
  195. I wanted to feel masculine.
  196. I am a sex addict.
  197. I wanted to see what all the fuss is about.
  198. I thought it would boost my social status.
  199. The person had a lot of money.
  200. The person’s physical appearance turned me on.
  201. The person was a good dancer.
  202. Someone had told me that this person was good in bed.
  203. The person had beautiful eyes.
  204. The person made me feel sexy.
  205. An erotic movie had turned me on.
  206. The person had taken me out for an expensive dinner.
  207. The person was a good kisser.
  208. The person had bought me jewelry.
  209. The person had a great sense of humor.
  210. The person seemed self-confident.
  211. The person really desired me.
  212. The person was really desired by others.
  213. I wanted to gain access to that person’s friend.
  214. I felt jealous.
  215. The person flattered me.
  216. I wanted to see if I could get the other person into bed.
  217. The person had a desirable body.
  218. I had not had sex in a long time.
  219. The person smelled nice.
  220. The person had an attractive face.
  221. I saw the person naked and could not resist.
  222. I was turned on by the sexual conversation.
  223. The person was intelligent.
  224. The person caressed me.
  225. The person wore revealing clothes.
  226. The person had too much to drink and I was able to take advantage of them.
  227. I knew the person was usually ‘‘out of my league.’’
  228. The person was mysterious.
  229. I realized I was in love.
  230. I wanted to forget about my problems.
  231. I wanted to reproduce.
  232. I wanted to feel loved.
  233. I wanted my partner to notice me.
  234. I wanted to help my partner forget about their problems.
  235. I wanted to lift my partner’s spirits.
  236. I wanted to submit to my partner.
  237. I wanted to make my partner feel powerful.

Again, this list comes from a University of Texas study published August 2007 issue of the Archives of Sexual Behavior (Study PDF). It asked 400 students and volunteers why they had sex. Keep in mind, most of the subjects were college-age students (which may certainly influence the top 20 reasons, below).

Top 20 Reasons Women Say They Have Sex

  1. I was attracted to the person.
  2. I wanted to experience the physical pleasure.
  3. It feels good.
  4. I wanted to show my affection to the person.
  5. I wanted to express my love for the person.
  6. I was sexually aroused and wanted the release.
  7. I was ‘‘horny’’.
  8. It’s fun.
  9. I realized I was in love.
  10. I was ‘‘in the heat of the moment’’.
  11. I wanted to please my partner.
  12. I desired emotional closeness (i.e., intimacy).
  13. I wanted the pure pleasure.
  14. I wanted to achieve an orgasm.
  15. It’s exciting, adventurous.
  16. I wanted to feel connected to the person.
  17. The person’s physical appearance turned me on.
  18. It was a romantic setting.
  19. The person really desired me.
  20. The person made me feel sexy.

Top 20 Reasons Men Say They Have Sex

  1. I was attracted to the person.
  2. It feels good.
  3. I wanted to experience the physical pleasure.
  4. It’s fun.
  5. I wanted to show my affection to the person.
  6. I was sexually aroused and wanted the release.
  7. I was ‘‘horny’’.
  8. I wanted to express my love for the person.
  9. I wanted to achieve an orgasm.
  10.  I wanted to please my partner.
  11. The person’s physical appearance turned me on.
  12. I wanted the pure pleasure.
  13. I was ‘‘in the heat of the moment’’.
  14. I desired emotional closeness (i.e., intimacy).
  15. It’s exciting, adventurous.
  16. The person had a desirable body.
  17. I realized I was in love.
  18. The person had an attractive face
  19. The person really desired me.
  20. I wanted the adventure/excitement.

Continued in Sexual Motivation, pt. II

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