Sexuality & Couples

Sophie Bergeron  Ph.D

Previous studies have shown that attachment insecurities (i.e., anxiety, avoidance) are associated with lower sexual well-being. However, we don’t know much about how attachment insecurity contributes to both partner’s emotions during sexual activity. Noémie Beaulieu, a student in the couples’ research laboratory of Katherine Péloquin therefore investigated if sexual motives (i.e., attachment, caregiving) could partly explain the associations between attachment insecurities and emotions during sexual activities. Two types of sexual motives were investigated : attachment motives (e.g., to feel reassured about my relationship) and caregiving motives (e.g., to please my partner). To that end, 149 Canadian who had been in their relationship for an average of 9 years completed short surveys for 21 consecutive days.

What did we find?

• Individuals higher in attachment avoidance endorsed less caregiving sexual motives, which were associated with more negative emotional experiences.

• Individuals higher in attachment anxiety endorsed more attachment sexual motives, which were associated with their own and their partner’s more negative emotional experiences.

• Individuals higher in attachment anxiety also endorsed more caregiving sexual motives, which were associated with their own and their partner’s more positive emotional experiences.

These results suggest that attachment drives why individuals engage in sexual activities and in return, these sexual motives influence how individuals and their partner feel during sexual activities. Individuals with attachment insecurity and their partner tend to report lower sexual well-being, partly because their sexual motives are driven by their attachment insecurities.

For more details, we invite you to consult the full article:

Beaulieu, N., Brassard, A., Bergeron, S., & Péloquin, K. (2022). Why do you have sex and does it make you feel better? Integrating attachment theory, sexual motives, and sexual well-being in long-term couples. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. 


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