Actually, Love Does Make Sex Better, Says Science
Every so often, science affirms the obvious: this time it’s that love makes sex more physically satisfying for women of all ages. A Penn State Abington professor found after conducting in-depth interviews with 95 women between the ages of 20 and 68 that most believe love is necessary for maximum satisfaction in both sexual relationships and marriage. When love is present, according to the university’s release on the study, the women reported feeling less inhibited in bed and open to experimenting.
This is because love makes sex okay and less of a premarital taboo, the study’s researcher, Beth Montemurro, explained to ELLE.com. “The women I interviewed preferred to associate sex and love because feeling love and loved allowed them to feel more confident and comfortable in a sexual encounter. They had increased sexual agency [and] confidence because they knew they were not doing something ‘bad.'”
The results don’t mean casual sex is doomed either, however. “My data cannot speak to this, but based on my familiarity with the literature on gender and sexuality, I think that women can and likely are still having satisfying sex in casual relationships where they don’t feel love,” Montemurro said. She pointed out that some of the women she interviewed “did separate love and sex and said they had as many or more satisfying sexual encounters without love” though they were in the minority.
Of her subjects, 50 said they don’t believe love is necessary for sex. Only 18 said they unequivocally believe it’s unneeded. This value of love stood the test of time, too: the older respondents told Montemurro it remained important to them during all eras of their life.
Montemurro attributes the results not so much to biology as to socialization. “As a sociologist, I do believe culture has a major impact on teaching girls and women to associate love and sex,” she said. “The slut-shaming girls often experience for having sex outside of committed relationships—films and television programs, which focus on getting a guy to fall in love with a female protagonist, as well as the reverence and the spectacle associated with weddings all contribute to this.” Altogether, it’s still a valid reason to pass on third date sex with that Tinder dude you’re not quite sure you’re into.
Photos: Courtesy of Getty Images
Posted on Elle.