Episode 128 – The Four Reasons Why We Have Sex


I think we have covered all the reasons we don’t want sex.  But have you ever wondered why people do have the desire for sex? It is more than for physical release, relief of stress or because we love someone.   According to one group of young adults, they noted up to 237 reasons for sex.. . .but there is actually just one main reason.  I will share that secret along with a few more that follow. I will also share some valuable information on the not-so-obvious differences between men and women when it comes to your sex life. If this is your first time here- welcome.  Get ready to learn and grow in your relationship like never before.

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References for this episode:

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Show Summary:

I’ll bet you are really good at finding excuses to not have sex.

  • I have a headache
  • I’m tired
  • I’m on my period
  • I feel fat today
  • You made me mad
  • I’m just not in the mood


But what are the reasons why we do want have a sex? Can you name two? How about 20? How about 200?  Some college students have cited as many as 237 reasons for having sex.  


Historically, there were 3 reasons why people had sex

  1. Procreation
  2. Pleasure
  3. Because they were in love


Yet, some sexologists say, at the most basic level, there is only one true reason people seek sex.  Because they are programmed to do so.  Our brains were designed to motivate us toward that behavior in order to promote species survival.


But if we are so wired for sex, how come so many of us don’t want it?  Well, it’s much of what we’ve talked about on this podcast…we are indoctrinated from an early age that we shouldn’t want it.  That it’s not ok.  That it’s wrong.  That it is a sin next to murder.  Very few people (at least in our culture) were taught how amazing and beautiful it is and how it’s normal and good to want it.  We just have to learn how to manage the wanting until it’s time to actually share that part of ourselves with someone.  So it’s not a matter of not being wired for sex, but it’s often that we’ve rewired our brain to not want it and then we struggle to get the original wiring back.


But lets actually talk about why people do want sex.  I want you to think about why you seek it (if you do).  Motivations generally fall into four main categories


  1. Physical Reasons
  2. Goal-based Reasons
  3. Emotional Reasons
  4. Insecurity Reasons


And then there are kind of sub-reasons for each of these.


Physical Reasons


What physical benefits do you receive from sex that motivate you?  


Pleasure seems like the obvious answer to most.  We want sex because sex feels good.  And this is another one of those evolutionary things we are wired for.  As humans, we are wired to seek pleasure.  And sex is a great source of pleasure to most people.


Stress relief is another answer.  Now some may argue that sex causes more stress than it relieves, but if you listened to Episode 101 – Sex Under Stress you know that sex can be a great way to relieve stress.  I recently came across a study that says the anecdote to stress is connection.  When cortisol levels rise (that’s the fight or flight hormone) one of the ways to bring it down is connection. We want someone to fight with us.  And when we have connection, that lowers our stress levels.  And what better way to connect, than with sex!


Attraction is another physical reason.  We just think the person is hot..and want them to satisfy us.


And the last one I would put in here is that sometimes we just have a build up of sexual tension and we want the release.


Goal Based Reasons


Often times having sex is because of some sort of goal.


Procreation, to make a baby, is probably the biggest goal.  But it’s definitely not the only one.  Sometimes people think that sex will improve their social status and make the popular.  Other times people use sex as a way to enact revenge on their spouse or use sex to gain a advantage in a relationship.  I would say these are less desirable reasons for sex, but they happen nonetheless.


Emotional Reasons


Love and commitment are some of the top reasons for having sex.  It’s a way to secure deep attachment between two people.  It can also be an expression of that love and a way to communicate that to your spouse.


Insecurity Reasons


People often use sex as a way to boost their self-esteem.  If someone is willing to have sex with you then you must be ok…right?  It’s a way to validate yourself.  


People often use sex to keep their partner from seeking sex elsewhere.  I hear this a lot from women.  That is one of the reasons why they come to me.  Because they are afraid that if they don’t figure this out and start wanting to have sex more than their partner is going to turn to someone else or to pornography.


The last and finally reason that stems from insecurity is because of a feeling of duty, obligation, or pressure.  They feel like it’s their marital duty or they afraid of their partners behaviors if they say no.


Differences between men and women


I’m sure you can see where some of these reasons might be more typical for men or for women.  


Men tended to want it more for physical reasons.  But not the one you might think.  It wasn’t that they wanted the physical release but “because they found their partner desirable,”  which supports the evolution-based hypothesis that men tend to be more sexually aroused by visual cues than women.


Women tended to have more emotional motivations like “I wanted to express my love for my husband.”  This also supports evolutionary based theory that women prefer sex within the context of an ongoing committed relationship, and feelings or expressions of love provide signals of that commitment.


But, both men and women expressed that they “wanted to feel connected, intensify the relationship, and desire emotional closeness.”  This shows that both men and women, at times, desire intimacy and emotional connectedness from sexual activity.

So how can we use this information to help our marriages? We can use it to understand ourselves and our partners better.  By identifying what it is we are actually seeking from sex or what our partner is seeking, then we can make better decisions regarding sex.


So, something I hear often from women is that they think their husband want sex just for the pleasure or the physical release.  That’s it’s not actually about them, but just about the sex.   And maybe that is true…sometimes.  But I’m guessing that it’s not true most of the time.  So ask him…ask him what his motivations are.  What is the FEELING he is seeking from sex.  The answer might surprise you.


And then, monitor your own reasons for wanting it (or not wanting it).  Are you doing it to please your partner?  Are you doing it out of duty or obligation? Or do you genuinely want to connect?


There’s no right or wrong answer.  But understanding yourself and your spouse better will ultimately create a deeper stronger connection between the two of you.

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