Women have physical reasons for having casual sex and emotional reasons for committed relationship sex

Posted on Monday, January 19, 2015

Women's reasons to have sex depend on the type of sexual relationship they are in, according to a new study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior. University of Ottawa researchers Dr. Heather Armstrong and Dr. Elke Reissing surveyed over 500 women and found that women want casual sex primarily for physical reasons, while women in committed relationships report wanting sex for emotional reasons, as well as physical ones.

The purpose of this study was to explore how relationship context, sexual attraction, and the gender of one's partner interact and affect the sexual motivations of women. Results strongly suggest that the type of sexual relationship is important when considering motivations for having sex.

“While it makes sense that women want sex because it feels good and because they're turned on by their partner, there are still underlying assumptions that women only want sex for emotional reasons or that they're having casual sex because they want a long-term mate. These results suggest an alternative explanation” explains Armstrong.

Regardless of sexual attraction or the gender of the partner, physical motivations were more strongly endorsed by women considering casual sex, while emotional motivations were more strongly endorsed when considering sex in a committed relationship. Sexual motivations were not influenced by a women's reported sexual attraction.

The study also looked at top reasons for having casual sex. These included; being turned on by the partner's looks, being sexually aroused, and for physical pleasure. The most popular reasons for having sex in a committed relationship included showing affection, expressing love, and because it feels good.

According to Armstrong, understanding sexual motives is important because ‘'Motivation and behaviour are inextricably linked. Understanding why someone has sex may improve health and relationship quality though increased knowledge of common sexual complaints like lack of desire or risky sexual behavior. Further, studies like this that counter common stereotypes may help to promote a better understanding of sexuality in general.”

Media inquiries

Danika Gagnon
Media Relations Officer
University of Ottawa
Office: 613-562-5800 ext. 2981
Cell: 613-863-7221

Back to top