Sexual compliance: gender, motivational, and relationship perspectives

J Sex Res. 2003 Feb;40(1):87-100. doi: 10.1080/00224490309552169.


This paper provides a systematic review of research on sexual compliance in heterosexual relationships. Three perspectives shed light on which individuals are the most likely to comply with a sexually interested partner's desire for sex and why. A gender perspective highlights the common male-female asymmetry in compliant sexual behavior and identifies factors that contribute to women's greater likelihood of being the sexually compliant partner. A motivational perspective distinguishes between approach and avoidance motives for compliance and considers the possible consequences of these motives for emotional reactions, sexual risk taking, and sexual violence. A relationship maintenance perspective views sexual compliance as illustrative of broader patterns of sacrifice in committed relationships. Each perspective suggests important new directions for empirical research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Attitude*
  • Cooperative Behavior*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Motivation*
  • Risk-Taking
  • Sex Factors
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology*