Women's motivations to have sex in casual and committed relationships with male and female partners

Arch Sex Behav. 2015 May;44(4):921-34. doi: 10.1007/s10508-014-0462-4. Epub 2015 Jan 8.


Women report a wide variety of reasons to have sex (e.g., Meston & Buss, 2010), and while it is reasonable to assume that those reasons may vary based on the context of the relationship, this assumption has not yet been tested. The purpose of this study was to explore how relationship type, sexual attraction, and the gender of one's partner interact and affect the sexual motivations of women. A total of 510 women (361 who reported exclusively other-sex attraction and 149 who reported same-sex/bisexual attraction) completed the YSEX? questionnaire. Participants rated their sexual motivations for casual sex and sex in a committed relationship with male and/or female partners, depending on reported sexual attraction. Results showed that relationship type affected reported motivation for sex: physical motivations were more strongly endorsed for casual sex, whereas emotional motivations were more strongly endorsed for sex in committed relationships. No significant differences in motivation were reported between women who reported same-sex attraction and those who did not. Women who reported bisexual attraction and identified as being lesbian, bisexual, or another sexual minority reported no significant differences in motivation for sex with male or female partners. The results of this study highlight the importance of relationship context when discussing sexual motivation and suggest a high degree of similarity in motivation for women, regardless of sexual orientation or gender of partner.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bisexuality / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Minority Groups
  • Motivation*
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology*
  • Sexual Partners / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires