6 fascinating things you never knew about sexual satisfaction

Your partner can tell if you're faking. Single men? That's another story entirely

Topics: AlterNet, sexual satisfaction, Orgasm, Sex, emotional intelligence,

6 fascinating things you never knew about sexual satisfaction
This article originally appeared on AlterNet.


1. Your partner can tell if you’re faking.

While your one-night stand may not be the wiser, a recent study by Canadian psychologists found that both men and women in committed relationships could accurately predict how sexually satisfied their partner is. The study, published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior, interviewed 84 heterosexual couples to see if they could tell whether their partner was overjoyed or lying back and thinking of England.

The study also found that women were slightly more accurate predictors of satisfaction, and that men tended to slightly underestimate their female partner’s satisfaction, throwing a considerable wrench into the arguments of those who base their lives on the movie “When Harry Met Sally.” In a similar vein, those in the study could also tell if their partners were dissatisfied, so you can stop writhing around on the floor like that, please.

2. Single men, however, cannot tell you’re faking.

1992 study by sociologist Edward O. Laumann of the University of Chicago found that 43.5 percent of men reported that their partners always had an orgasm, but actually only 28.6 percent of women were hitting that high note. 1992, you scoff? If Justin Bieber wasn’t alive yet, it doesn’t count, I hear you saying. You’re right, hence a 2010 study came to similar conclusions: 85 percent of men said their partners had an orgasm during their last romp, but only 64 percent of women said the same.

Erin Fallis, author of the Canadian study and psychology graduate student at the University of Waterloo in Ontario put a cheerful, Canadian spin on it, “[T]here’s arguably more to sexual satisfaction than reaching climax.”

True! But come on. Can you imagine a man ever saying something like that about himself?

3. Communication is key.

Unsurprisingly, those who are comfortable talking about sex, and their desires, with their partners are more fulfilled, both sexually and in their relationship, than those who aren’t. Or, as a 2010 study in the Journal of Sex Research put it, “The quality of intimate communication accounted for part of the concurrent changes in relationship satisfaction and sexual satisfaction.” Miming one’s sexual needs came in at a close second.

Good communication skills in bed makes sense for two reasons. The first is that sexual self-disclosure leads to more trust and intimacy, which leads to better sex. And the second is that it takes the guesswork out. Unless your partner is that guy from “Lie to Me,” in which case, definitely don’t tell him a thing!

4. Emotional intelligence makes a difference.

If you suck at talking, however, there’s still some hope for you to have a stellar sex life. And that is if you develop a keen emotional intelligence, i.e. the ability to read people. In one study of 2,000 female twins, researchers found that that those with greater emotional intelligence had more orgasms. Though women tend to have a stronger correlation with emotional intelligence, men certainly benefit from being more tuned in with their surroundings and partners. Research has shown that those with higher emotional intelligence make better decisions, both in and out of the bedroom.

If you’re curious how you rate, you can test your emotional intelligence online.

5. Frequency doesn’t equal higher satisfaction.

As the old saying goes, it’s quality not quantity, and this applies equally to our persnickity crotches. The Handbook of Sexuality in Close Relationships notes that while couples’ sexual frequency tends to drop off the longer they are together, their sexual satisfaction does not. This could be because people in long-term relationships expect the sex to wane and therefore aren’t crushed when they find themselves watching re-runs of “Teen Mom” at night instead of getting it on like they once did.

Or! It could be that quality trumps quantity and that sexy times with people who know their bodies and needs is more important than, like, 10 quickies a week.

6. How important is sex anyway?

Curious if your man is happy with your relationship? Might we suggest you check his pants. “Sexual satisfaction is the strongest predictor of men’s relationship stability — whether they break up or stay together,” said Fallis, citing an extensive review paper of studies on married couples. “It’s the second strongest for women after relationship satisfaction.”

While men are more likely to think a poor sex life means the entire relationship is poor, women tend to view a lagging sex life as “an unfortunate, but separate part of the couple’s relationship.” This was found to be true not just in straight marriages, but also in cohabitating couples, and lesbian and gay relationships. This just goes to show the importance of how maintaining a healthy sex life affects other areas of our lives as well.

We’ll boink to that.

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Beautiful Darkness by Fabien Vehlmann & Kerascoët
    Kerascoët's lovely, delicate pen-and-watercolor art -- all intricate botanicals, big eyes and flowing hair -- gives this fairy story a deceptively pretty finish. You find out quickly, however, that these are the heartless and heedless fairies of folk legend, not the sentimental sprites beloved by the Victorians and Disney fans. A host of tiny hominid creatures must learn to survive in the forest after fleeing their former home -- a little girl who lies dead in the woods. The main character, Aurora, tries to organize the group into a community, but most of her cohort is too capricious, lazy and selfish to participate for long. There's no real moral to this story, which is refreshing in itself, beyond the perpetual lessons that life is hard and you have to be careful whom you trust. Never has ugly truth been given a prettier face.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Climate Changed: A Personal Journey Through the Science by Philippe Squarzoni
    Squarzoni is a French cartoonist who makes nonfiction graphic novels about contemporary issues and politics. While finishing up a book about France under Jacques Chirac, he realized that when it came to environmental policy, he didn't know what he was talking about. "Climate Changed" is the result of his efforts to understand what has been happening to the planet, a striking combination of memoir and data that ruminates on a notoriously elusive, difficult and even imponderable subject. Panels of talking heads dispensing information (or Squarzoni discussing the issues with his partner) are juxtaposed with detailed and meticulous yet lyrical scenes from the author's childhood, the countryside where he takes a holiday and a visit to New York. He uses his own unreachable past as a way to grasp the imminent transformation of the Earth. The result is both enlightening and unexpectedly moving.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Here by Richard McGuire
    A six-page version of this innovative work by a regular contributor to the New Yorker first appeared in RAW magazine 25 years ago. Each two-page spread depicts a single place, sometimes occupied by a corner of a room, over the course of 4 billion years. The oldest image is a blur of pink and purple gases; others depict hazmat-suited explorers from 300 years in the future. Inset images show the changing decor and inhabitants of the house throughout its existence: family photos, quarrels, kids in Halloween costumes, a woman reading a book, a cat walking across the floor. The cumulative effect is serene and ravishing, an intimation of the immensity of time and the wonder embodied in the humblest things.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Kill My Mother by Jules Feiffer
    The legendary Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist delivers his debut graphic novel at 85, a deliriously over-the-top blend of classic movie noir and melodrama that roams from chiaroscuro Bay City to Hollywood to a USO gig in the Pacific theater of World War II. There's a burnt-out drunk of a private eye, but the story is soon commandeered by a multigenerational collection of ferocious women, including a mysterious chanteuse who never speaks, a radio comedy writer who makes a childhood friend the butt of a hit series and a ruthless dame intent on making her whiny coward of a husband into a star. There are disguises, musical numbers and plenty of gunfights, but the drawing is the main attraction. Nobody convey's bodies in motion more thrillingly than Feiffer, whether they're dancing, running or duking it out. The kid has promise.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    The Motherless Oven by Rob Davis
    This is a weird one, but in the nervy surreal way that word-playful novels like "A Clockwork Orange" or "Ulysses" are weird. The main character, a teenage schoolboy named Scarper Lee, lives in a world where it rains knives and people make their own parents, contraptions that can be anything from a tiny figurine stashable in a pocket to biomorphic boiler-like entities that seem to have escaped from Dr. Seuss' nightmares. Their homes are crammed with gadgets they call gods and instead of TV they watch a hulu-hoop-size wheel of repeating images that changes with the day of the week. They also know their own "death day," and Scarper's is coming up fast. Maybe that's why he runs off with the new girl at school, a real troublemaker, and the obscurely dysfunctional Castro, whose mother is a cageful of talking parakeets. A solid towline of teenage angst holds this manically inventive vision together, and proves that some graphic novels can rival the text-only kind at their own game.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    NOBROW 9: It's Oh So Quiet
    For each issue, the anthology magazine put out by this adventurous U.K.-based publisher of independent graphic design, illustration and comics gives 45 artists a four-color palette and a theme. In the ninth issue, the theme is silence, and the results are magnificent and full of surprises. The comics, each told in images only, range from atmospheric to trippy to jokey to melancholy to epic to creepy. But the two-page illustrations are even more powerful, even if it's not always easy to see how they pertain to the overall concept of silence. Well, except perhaps for the fact that so many of them left me utterly dumbstruck with visual delight.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Over Easy by Mimi Pond
    When Pond was a broke art student in the 1970s, she took a job at a neighborhood breakfast spot in Oakland, a place with good food, splendid coffee and an endlessly entertaining crew of short-order cooks, waitresses, dishwashers and regular customers. This graphic memoir, influenced by the work of Pond's friend, Alison Bechdel, captures the funky ethos of the time, when hippies, punks and disco aficionados mingled in a Bay Area at the height of its eccentricity. The staff of the Imperial Cafe were forever swapping wisecracks and hopping in and out of each other's beds, which makes them more or less like every restaurant team in history. There's an intoxicating esprit de corps to a well-run everyday joint like the Imperial Cafe, and never has the delight in being part of it been more winningly portrayed.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew
    You don't have to be a superhero fan to be utterly charmed by Yang and Liew's revival of a little-known character created in the 1940s by the cartoonist Chu Hing. This version of the Green Turtle, however, is rich in characterization, comedy and luscious period detail from the Chinatown of "San Incendio" (a ringer for San Francisco). Hank, son of a mild-mannered grocer, would like to follow in his father's footsteps, but his restless mother (the book's best character and drawn with masterful nuance by Liew) has other ideas after her thrilling encounter with a superhero. Yang's story effortlessly folds pathos into humor without stooping to either slapstick or cheap "darkness." This is that rare tribute that far surpasses the thing it celebrates.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Shoplifter by Michael Cho
    Corinna Park, former English major, works, unhappily, in a Toronto advertising agency. When the dissatisfaction of the past five years begins to oppress her, she lets off steam by pilfering magazines from a local convenience store. Cho's moody character study is as much about city life as it is about Corinna. He depicts her falling asleep in front of the TV in her condo, brooding on the subway, roaming the crowded streets after a budding romance goes awry. Like a great short story, this is a simple tale of a young woman figuring out how to get her life back, but if feels as if it contains so much of contemporary existence -- its comforts, its loneliness, its self-deceptions -- suspended in wintery amber.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
    This collection of archetypal horror, fairy and ghost stories, all about young girls, comes lushly decked in Carroll's inky black, snowy white and blood-scarlet art. A young bride hears her predecessor's bones singing from under the floorboards, two friends make the mistake of pretending to summon the spirits of the dead, a family of orphaned siblings disappears one by one into the winter nights. Carroll's color-saturated images can be jagged, ornate and gruesome, but she also knows how to chill with absence, shadows and a single staring eye. Literary readers who cherish the work of Kelly Link or the late Angela Carter's collection, "The Bloody Chamber," will adore the violent beauty on these pages.

  • Recent Slide Shows


Loading Comments...