New research indicates that a positive attitude towards sexual growth can protect couples from the adverse effects of sexual difficulties on their relationship. Conversely, having a belief in sexual destiny may have a detrimental impact. Published in The Journal of Sex Research, the new study aimed to investigate if sexual growth and sexual destiny beliefs influence general and sexual responsiveness and whether this connection is affected by sexual challenges.
Regarding romantic relationships, partners need to consider each other’s needs, especially in the area of sexuality. However, this can often lead to conflicts, which can negatively impact relationships and sexual satisfaction. Nevertheless, it is the way couples handle sexual conflicts that is crucial in maintaining relationship quality.
Individuals’ implicit beliefs about the stability and fixedness of their personality, relationships, and sexuality play a significant role in interpreting and responding to relationship and sexual conflicts. Growth beliefs are linked to seeing challenges as surmountable and using more effective coping strategies. In contrast, destiny beliefs are related to seeing challenges as unchangeable and using less effective coping strategies.
The study involved three different groups of people (clinical and non-clinical), with 820 participants facing various sexual challenges. The first group had clinically low sexual desire, while the other two had unmet sexual ideals. The third group experienced changes in their sexual life due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The findings indicated that individuals who held strong sexual growth beliefs were perceived by their partners as more responsive to their sexual needs. These individuals were also more willing to respond to their partner’s sexual needs, especially when faced with challenges such as unfulfilled sexual expectations or negative impacts on their sex life due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On the other hand, individuals who believed in sexual destiny did not show greater responsiveness and were even less responsive overall.
Those who endorse growth beliefs agree with statements such as “In a relationship, maintaining a satisfying sex life requires effort,” while those who endorse destiny beliefs agree with statements such as “A couple is either destined to have a satisfying sex life or they are not.”
The research team asserts that the results emphasize the significance of implicit sexual beliefs in sexual responsiveness. They underscore the potential advantages of sexual growth beliefs in preserving sexual contentment, particularly when confronted with sexual dilemmas or disparities in a relationship.
Applications of the research may be limited as participants were in committed, long-lasting, and exclusive relationships, and the results may not apply to those in more recent or non-monogamous relationships.
This research provides initial indications of the connection between implicit sexual beliefs and sexual responsiveness in intimate relationships that are confronted with sexual issues.
In the words of lead author Akshita Uppota and her colleagues, “These findings suggest that sexual growth beliefs may be beneficial in romantic relationships as they may protect couples from the negative relationship outcomes (i.e., declines in relationship and sexual satisfaction, and personal wellbeing) related to sexual challenges, whereas sexual destiny beliefs may be detrimental for couples as their lack of sexual responsiveness may exacerbate the negative outcomes related to sexual challenges.”
The study, “Responsiveness in the face of sexual challenges: The role of sexual growth and destiny beliefs” was authored by Akshita Uppota, Stephanie Raposo, Natalie O. Rosen, Serena Corsini-Munt, Rhonda Balzarini, and Amy Muise.