Since sexuality and desire for intimacy are important human features from birth to death (Hatfield, Rapson, & Martel, 2007) and sexual satisfaction, in particular, is considered to be a barometer for the quality of a relationship (Sprecher & Cate, 2004) it is only appropriate to discover what makes up the quality of sexual satisfaction.
Sex life satisfaction is particularly important for researchers of intimate relations (Goodwin, 2009) for two reasons. First, sexual satisfaction provides one mechanism through which to view a relationship’s partner. Second, sexual satisfaction is a construct that lends itself to prediction by a variety of other relationship phenomena (e.g., marital quality and stability). Furthermore, the domain of sex is very important for people’s lives. The satisfaction experienced in this domain can have repercussions on the whole life. Laumann, Paik, and Rosen (1999) found as much as 31% of men and 43% of women had experience with some form of sexual difficulties. Given the high levels of sexual difficulties and dysfunction in the general population, it is invaluable to understand the subject matter so as to be able to proceed in the improvement of people’s lives.
Sexual satisfaction is an important component of well-being for most individuals. Previous research positively linked reported sexual satisfaction to increased self-esteem (Hally & Pollack, 1993), sexual self-esteem (Ménard & Offman, 2009), healthy disposition, life satisfaction (Apt, Hulbert, Pierce, & White, 1996), relationship satisfaction (Byers, 2005; Holmberg, Blair, & Phillips, 2010), and emotional satisfaction and feelings of general happiness.
A key factor in relationship satisfaction among couples is their level of sexual satisfaction (Butzer & Campbell, 2008; Byers, 2005; Kisler & Christopher, 2008; Litzinger & Gordon, 2005; Sprecher, 2002; Yeh, Lorenz, Wickrama, Conger, & Elder, 2006). Many couples, however, are known to have different levels of sex drive or interest (e.g., Davies, Katz, & Jackson, 1999), with men tending to prefer sex more frequently than did women (Johannes & Avis, 1997; Richters, Grulich, de Visser, Smith, & Rissel, 2003; for a review, see Baumeister, Catanese, & Vohs, 2001). Women in relationships, at the instigation of their male partners, are having sex more frequently than they would ideally desire or with more emphasis on quantity over quality (see Klusmann, 2002; Leiblum, 2002).
What about the satisfaction with particular sexual practices? Turning to sexual satisfaction derived from particular activities, there are indications that men may prefer a wider range of sexual practices than women. Bell and Weinberg (1978) found that gay men engaged in a wider range of sexual activities than lesbians. Laumann et al. (1994), in a primarily heterosexual national (US) sample, found that men preferred a larger number of different sexual acts than women, and showed higher appeal ratings on most of the individual acts. Of course, the answers received to such questions depend heavily on the particular acts surveyed. In both studies mentioned, the emphasis was fairly strongly on genital sexuality. Women, and particularly lesbian women, may derive particular pleasure from more sensual acts, such as kissing or caressing their partner (Blumstein & Schwartz, 1983; Iasenza, 2002). It is possible that such sensual acts might show a reversal, with women expressing higher levels of satisfaction than men. On the other hand, surveys of gay men and lesbians (Lever, 1994, 1995) do not show large differences between these groups in terms of enjoyment derived from kissing, cuddling, and foreplay. Both groups rated such activities very highly.
This area of life is common to all people and appears to be a critical domain of life to many populations of individuals. Thus making it a wise topic to be researched and not a taboo to be shamefully disregarded. It is in everyone’s common interest to further explore the dynamics in sex, with the hopes that their understanding will lead to a more fulfilled life, more functional relationships and greater self-discovery.
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