The Correlation between Love & Sex
Love should be the only reason for Sex as LOVE is sacred (i.e. dedicated to a purpose e.g. marriage, a person e.g. spouse)..
Romantic love, sex, and sexual desire are so closely intertwined that it might seem almost impossible to disentangle them.
Though research has also shown that romantic relationships can exist in the absence of sexual desire, even during the beginning stages where they may be at their most romantically passionate.
[Diamond, L.M. (2004). Emerging perspectives on distinctions between romantic love and sexual desire. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 13, 116–119.]
Abstracts from articles relating to the co-relation between Love & Sex:
" One explanation for why sexual desire tends to be so strong at the beginning of relationships and may account for why its presence or absence can reflect the strength of commitment between partners."
[Gonzaga, Gian C.; Turner, Rebecca A.; Keltner, Dacher; Campos, Belinda & Altemus, Margaret (2006). Romantic Love and Sexual Desire in Close Relationships, Emotion, 6:2, 163–179.]
Men and women have also expressed the belief that when dating, if partners experience sexual desire for each other, there is a greater likelihood for positive outcomes to emerge in terms of interpersonal closeness as well as a reduced likelihood to experience negative events in the relationship, regardless of the frequency of sexual activity.
[Regan, Pamela C. (1998). Of lust and love: Beliefs about the role of sexual desire in romantic relationships, Personal Relationships, 5, 139-157.]
It may all start from DATING, a form of courtship usually referring to two people meeting & engaging in some mutually agreed upon social activities done in public together as a couple, with the aim of each assessing the other's suitability as a partner in an intimate relationship or as a spouse. Courtship, sometimes seen as a precursor to engagement or marriage, is two people who may or may not yet be having sexual relations trying out a relationship, the protocols & practices of dating vary considerably from country to country.
[Do check out our next blog about how men & women fall in love differently.]
INTIMACY is a journey formed when familiarity with close association, detailed knowledge or deep understanding of the other person takes place, usually affectionately with a loving personal relationship. It is not a tangible thing, takes place over time, is ever-changing as in fact any kind of stagnation in a relationship kills intimacy.
INTIMACY can also take many forms [more on Intimacy will be discussed in a later blog]. The one relevant here is sexual intimacy, the stereotypical definition of intimacy that most people are familiar with which includes a broad range of sensuous activity & expression with each other, and is much more than just sexual intercourse.
COUPLE INTIMACY is achieved when the relationship has become a productive enterprise resulting in mutual satisfaction, reward, and reinforcement for each other; it has a purpose, direction, and order to it that is reasonable, realistic, and healthy for both; a firm commitment, agreement, or contract exists with each other to be mutually supportive, understanding, and accepting of one another.
Human Sexual Activity or Behaviour (as a result of couple intimacy) is the capacity to have erotic experiences & responses, which also refers to how humans experience & express their sexuality, that may also impact cultural, political, legal, and philosophical aspects of life (issues of morality, ethics, theology, spiritually, or religion). It also has Biological (the reproductive mechanism + the basic biological drive that exists in all species), Physical (range from purely medical considerations to concerns about the physiological or even psychological & sociological aspects), and Emotional aspects (deal with the intense personal bonds & emotions generated between partners).
It may also involve a person's sexual attraction to another person – which may be determined by their Sexual Orientation – whether it is to the opposite sex (Heterosexuality), to the same sex (Homosexuality), having both these tendencies (Bisexuality), or not being attracted to anyone in a sexual manner (Asexuality). The brain is the structure that translates nerve impulses from the skin into pleasurable sensations, controlling nerves & muscles used during sexual behavior. The brain regulates the release of hormones which are believed to be the physiological origin of sexual desire. The cerebral cortex, the outer layer of the brain, that allows for thinking and reasoning, is believed to be the origin of sexual thoughts and fantasies. This may explain sexual orientation.
SEX (both inter & outer) commonly contributes to human bonding, usually being used for pleasure and often leading to stronger emotional bonds.
It is also important to note that safe sex practices are advised as individuals can be at risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections (do check out the range of STDs & cancers that can still be contracted without full sexual intercourse through >100 strains of silent killer, HPV, that can affect both males & females without any symptomatic sign, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_papillomavirus) during these activities though the transmission risk is significantly reduced with non-penetrative sex.
Some researchers, such as British scientist & physician, Alex Comfort, posit 3 potential advantages of sexual intercourse in humans, which are not mutually exclusive: Reproductive, Relational, and Recreational.
For example: A fertile couple may have sexual intercourse while contracepting not only to experience sexual pleasure (Recreational), but also as a means of emotional intimacy (Relational), thus deepening their bonding, making their relationship more stable and more capable of sustaining children in the future (deferred Reproductive). This same couple may emphasize different aspects of sexual intercourse on different occasions, being playful during one episode of intercourse (Recreational), experiencing deep emotional connection on another occasion (Relational), and later, after discontinuing contraception, seeking to achieve pregnancy (Reproductive, or more likely Reproductive + Relational).
Sexual Intimacy increases levels of the hormone OXYTOXIN, also known as "the Love Hormone", which helps people bond and build trust. Oxytocin which is believed to be involved with maintaining close relationships, is released in both men and women during sexual intercourse when an orgasm is achieved. This hormone is also released in women when they give birth or are breastfeeding.
A long-term study of 3,500 people by clinical neuropsychologist David Weeks, MD, head of old age psychology at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital in Scotland, found that "sex helps you look between four and seven years younger", according to impartial ratings of the subjects' photos. Exclusive causation is unclear but its benefits may be indirectly related to sex and directly related to significant reductions in stress, greater contentment, and better sleep that sex promotes.
In contrast to its benefits, sexual intercourse can also be a disease vector. There are 19 million new cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STD) every year in the U.S., and worldwide there are over 340 million STDs a year. [World Health Organization Fact Sheet on Sexually Transmitted Diseases]
In the U.S. itself, more than half of all STDs occur in adolescents and young adults aged 15–24 years. At least 1 in 4 teenage girls has a sexually transmitted disease.
"The partner who experiences high-desire is more likely to report feelings of love, satisfaction, commitment, happiness and jealousy, while the less sexually interested partner is more likely to report dissatisfaction, and may be more likely to terminate the relationship or be unfaithful."
In an American's nationwide surveys, several researchers found that: i) about twice as many men as women reported having an extramarital affair (Wiederman, 1997) regardless of whether or not they are in a married or unmarried relationship; ii) 2.2% of married participants reported having more than one partner during the past year (Choi, Catania, Dolcini, 1990).
In general, it was surveyed that between 15-25% of married Americans reported having extramarital affairs.
Treas & Giesen (2000) found that the likelihood of sexual infidelity was higher for those who had: i) stronger sexual interests, ii) more permissive sexual values, lower subjective satisfaction with their partner, iii) weaker network ties to their partner, and iv) greater sexual opportunities elsewhere.
Studies suggest around 30–40% of unmarried relationships and 18–20% of marriages are marked by at least one incident of sexual infidelity.
Nearly all Americans marry during their lifetime; yet close to half of all first marriages are expected to end in separation or divorce, many within a few years, and subsequent marriages are even more likely to end.
SO WHY DO PEOPLE CHEAT?
SEXUAL DISSATISFACTION is associated with Increased Risk of Divorce and Relationship Dissolution.
Here are the various reasons derived through national surveys over the decades by various researchers.
According to the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior (NSSHB) in 2010, men whose most recent sexual encounter was with a Relationship Partner (NOT a stranger/ acquaintance/ friend) reported greater arousal, greater pleasure, fewer problems with erectile function, orgasm, and less pain during the event than men whose last sexual encounter was with a non-relationship partner. According to the Journal of Counseling & Development, many women express that their most satisfying sexual experiences entail being connected to someone, rather than solely basing satisfaction on orgasm.
Studies (taking in consideration gender differences) have reported that men are more likely to engage in extramarital sex if they are Unsatisfied Sexually, while women are more likely to engage in sex if they are Unsatisfied Emotionally (Sheppard, Nelso, Andreoli-Mathie, 1995).
Kimmel & Van Der Veen (1974) found that sexual satisfaction may be more important to husbands and that wives are more concerned with compatibility with their partners (Sheppard et al.,1995).
Women indicated Relationship Dissatisfaction as the number one reason for infidelity, whereas men reported a Lack of Communication, Understanding, and Sexual Incompatibility (Roscoe, Cavanaugh, & Kennedy, 1988).
Glass & Wright (1992) also found that men and women who are involved in Both Sexual and Emotional Infidelities reported being the Most Dissatisfied in their Relationships than those who engaged in either sexual or emotional infidelity alone.
In general, though there are many other factors that increase the likelihood of anyone engaging in infidelity, Marital Dissatisfaction overall is the No. 1 reason often reported for infidelity for both sexes and individuals who can separate concepts of sex & love are more likely to accept situations where infidelity occurs (Sheppard et al., 1995). Individuals exhibiting sexually permissive attitudes and those who have had a high number of past sexual relationships are also more likely to engage in infidelity (Feldman & Cauffman, 1999).
Therefore what are some of the causes of marital dissatisfaction, divorces & infidelity (adultery)?
REASONS FOR MARITAL DISSATISFACTION LEADING TO DIVORCE
Researchers from the National Fatherhood Initiative conducted a survey asking people why they decided to untie the knot. While divorces were considered rare decades ago, the institution of marriage seems to be eroding on a global scale and Singapore has not been spared from this unfortunate phenomenon.
Out of the billions of people on Earth, it is not easy for 2 people to come together and attempt to spend their entire lives together. It requires a great deal of affinity to find your spouse.
Divorce is supposed to be a last ditch decision for a troubled marriage, so it's interesting to know what it takes for couples to call it quits. Unfortunately, there are so many possible reasons such as even a 3rd party's comments, peer pressure, weight gain, etc, which could threaten a marriage. In a rather surprising finding, an article on Men’s Health revealed that researchers found that weight gain was the biggest source of annoyance (as a factor & may not be a main reason for divorce) for couples who have been together for 3 years. So if you have been neglecting your body lately, it is time to hit the gym again, better if you work out together with your spouse as it could provide some valuable bonding time.
Other than this reason that seem minute but real, here's the list of the some 10 common reasons (singly or in combination) why a couple’s marriage may culminate in a divorce.
1) Lack of Communication: Communication is key to any successful relationship even after the couple gets married. A lack of communication can lead to a deterioration of the relationship between a couple & cause misunderstandings. The couple may start to drift far apart from one another for various reasons (e.g. due to children or frequent travel for work, etc) to the point where they may start to consider a divorce.
2) Too Much Arguing: 56% of exes surveyed said too much arguing was the reason for their split. "Incessant arguing that doesn't lead to any resolution is incredibly damaging for any relationship," says Clinton Power, relationship counselor and founder of Clinton Power & Associates.
"One of the primary reasons arguments perpetuate is because you're not understanding, appreciating or validating your partner's perspective. Once you can begin to appreciate a reality different from your own, you're on the way to de-escalating conflict and finding solutions."
3) Irreconcilable Differences: Is the excuse often used to file for a divorce. Incompatibility could be a factor, especially if the couple gets married too quickly and find out that their spouse is not who they think they are. Differences in parenting styles can also strain a marriage when a child is added into the family.
4) Marrying Too Young: 46% of exes surveyed said that age was a factor in the dissolution of their marriage. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, nearly half of teenage marriages fail within the first 15 years. That number drops to 35% for couples who marry in their mid-twenties.
5) Lack of Preparation: 41% of respondents said they weren't prepared for what they were getting into (lack marital preparation) when they got married, then find themselves struggling in their union. Proper marital or pre-marital counseling can help couples ensure they're emotionally equipped to handle their union.
6) Money Woes: While money may not be the root of your happiness, it can be a source of your misery. A report by the American Journal of Sociology found that if the husband does not have a job, his unemployment can become a significant factor for the couple filing for divorce. A couple suffering from serious financial woes will usually face a lot of stress & pressure which often translates to heated fights & quarrels. Furthermore, differing views on spending habits & financial management can put a strain on the marriage.
7) Lack of Commitment: 73% of couples cited this as the main reason their marriage didn’t work. According to the survey, 62% of exes said they wished their spouses had worked harder to stay married. 35% of men and 21% of women said they wished they, themselves, had worked harder in the marriage.
8) Abuse: Sadly, 29% of splits occurred because of domestic violence. Divorce can be a much more complicated process for victims of abuse. The most important thing is to make sure that you're safe before instigating any separation or divorce. Secondly, let people close to you in your life know of any possible dangers that may come from preparing or announcing a divorce. Have a back up plan that involves these people looking out for your safety. It is also advised that victims to seek legal advice.
9) Lack of Equality: A large 44% percentage of those surveyed said they felt their marriage was unequal, and eventually, that inequality led to divorce. E.g. If one person feels an unfair amount of responsibility (whether in kind or monetarily, differences in perceptions such as in gender stereotyping inequalities) is placed on them in the marriage, the relationship could be in danger.
And last but not least which may sometimes hurt the most & makes us want to investigate further into WHY...
10) INFIDELITY: Adultery is the 3rd most common reason with 55% of respondents saying infidelity caused their marriages to fall apart. It's no surprise that cheating plays a significant role in a split. While lust may be a reason for infidelity, other reasons include unequal sexual appetites, resentment or anger at your partner and also a deteriorating relationship (view above for reasons) between the married couple.
Cheating expert Ruth Houston warns that infidelity often begins as a seemingly innocent friendship. "It starts as an emotional affair. It will become a physical affair."
Each case of infidelity serves a different purpose. There are 5 categories of infidelity definitions that lessens some confusions & justifies the behavior of a spouse:
i) Opportunistic Infidelity occurs when a partner is in love and attached to a partner, but surrenders to their sexual desire for someone else. The opportunistic infidelity is driven by irrepressible lust, situational circumstances and/or opportunity, and sometimes, pure risk-taking behavior.
ii) Obligatory Infidelity is based on fear that refraining from someone's sexual advances will result in rejection, and being unwilling to handle such rejection. Some people end up cheating solely on the need for approval from somebody, even though they still hold a strong attraction to their committed partner.
iii) Romantic Infidelity occurs when the cheater is in the process of "falling out of love" with his/her partner. The person's self-perceived obligatory commitment to the relationship's tenets and overall life-meaning is likely the only thing still keeping them with their partner in this example.
iv) Conflicted Romantic Infidelity takes place when a person both falls in love with and has a strong sexual desire for multiple people at one time, even though s/he may already be committed to a partner. The person feels s/he cannot tell his/her committed partner about what has happened, but is nevertheless unable to resist the compulsion; this lack of open discussion is usually what separates conflicted romantic infidelity from things like a well-defined open relationship or polyamory (swinging with emotions).
v) Commemorative Infidelity occurs when a person has completely fallen out of love with their spouse, but is still in a committed relationship with them. There is no sexual desire, or love or attachment, only a sense of commitment keeps a couple together. These people justify cheating by telling themselves they have the right to look for what they are not getting in their present relationship.
Now, with a deeper understanding of the interconnection between Love & Sex, and by knowing what ignites the displeasure between couples which may lead to infidelity and thus incur the wrath of the other partner who may decide to throw in the towel. Are we better equipped in handling our relationships now?
The ANSWER: Love Potion #1!!! When was your last dosage...? ;)