Category Archives: Psychology

Research on lifestyle relationship quality and STIs

Via Justin J. Lehmiller.

Interesting:

Relationship function, satisfaction, commitment, and passion were about the same in both consensually non-monogamous and monogamous relationships. Furthermore consensually non-monogamous couples had lower jealousy and higher trust.

But what about STIs?

STIs appear to be less frequent in consensually non-monogamous relationships than those which claim their relationship to be monogamous. The suggestion in the video is that condom usage is more frequent and STI testing is more frequent in consensually non-monogamous couples and that this accounts for the less frequent STIs. I don’t have a data set of sufficient size without bias that could be useful in answering this question but I have a couple points that make me wonder.

A lifestyle woman in her 50’s told me that she estimated she has had sex with 600 men in her life. I asked about condoms usage and STIs. She claimed she didn’t use condoms with them and that the only vaginal infection she sometimes gets is bacterial vaginosis. But that she also sometimes gets this even when she has not had a different partner in quite some time. This website agrees, “Bacterial vaginosis is more common in women who are sexually active. But it can occur if you are not sexually active as well.”

Barb and I were somewhat shocked at this woman’s claim. A few months later a friend and I were discussing our mutual sexually prolific friend on a closely related topic and I mentioned the estimated 600 men. My friend said, “That’s nothing!” She went to suggest she herself had sex with far more than 600 in her ~65 years. I didn’t ask about STIs but she does have a condoms required policy.

Further personal research revealed other women with large numbers of partners, low condom usage, and STI infection rates that would appear to be similar to “monogamous” couples.

I could have a bias in my thinking because I’ve been reading An Epidemic of Absence: A New Way of Understanding Allergies and Autoimmune Diseases. This book claims that because we have created a much more sterile environment to live in than that which we were originally evolved in we have a much higher rate of autoimmune disease. And in fact, infection with certain diseases at a relatively young age gives us immunity for dramatically different diseases much later in life. When infected with the same organism later in life the infection is quite detrimental.

The base hypothesis is that humans had a symbiotic relationship with parasites, bacteria, and viruses for 100s of thousands of years then in a (evolutionary) blink of the eye exterminated as many of them as possible. Some needed to be exterminated, such as small pox, but many, while exacting a cost, performed an important function. Minimizing contact with all microscopic organisms may not be the best game plan.

Could it be that somewhat frequent exposure to low levels of STIs, such as kissing and oral sex with a wide variety f people, cause an immunity to such bacteria and viruses?

What counts as sex?

I found this blog post fascinating:

It turns out that different people have very different definitions, and they make all kinds of interesting distinctions. For example, some people only think that intercourse “counts” as sex if they have an orgasm. Further complicating matters is the fact that who’s participating in a given behavior influences what counts. Specifically, we seem to hold ourselves to different standards compared to other people.

For example, several studies have shown that people are more likely to label a given behavior as sex to the extent that their significant other did it as opposed to themselves. In a study of 839 college students (96% heterosexual) who were asked whether oral contact with another person’s genitals counted as sex, it turned out that just 36% of women and 39% of men said it did when they imagined themselves doing it [1]. However, when asked to imagine their partner doing the same thing with someone else, 62% of women and 63% of men suddenly viewed it as sex.

Casual sex enhances psychological well-being

From Social Psychological and Personality Science:

Casual sex has become a normative experience among young people, raising concerns regarding its well-being consequences. Prior findings on main effects of casual sex on well-being are mixed, suggesting possible moderating factors. Using longitudinal and weekly diary methodologies, this study examined the moderating influence of sociosexuality, a stable personality orientation toward casual sex, on psychological well-being (self-esteem, life satisfaction, depression, and anxiety) following penetrative (oral, vaginal, or anal) casual sex among single undergraduates. As predicted, sociosexuality moderated the effect of casual sex on well-being on a weekly basis across 12 consecutive weeks, over one semester, and over one academic year. Sociosexually unrestricted students typically reported higher well-being after having casual sex compared to not having casual sex; there were no such differences among restricted individuals. Few gender differences were found. Findings are discussed in terms of authenticity in one’s sexual behaviors.

I suspect that if they did the study for older people they would find similar results. I know I find “casual sex” enhances my psychological well-being.

Men who fantasize about their wives with another man

Interesting article by Justin Lehmiller:

“cuckold porn” is second only to “youth” in heterosexual porn searches.

From an evolutionary perspective, the idea that a guy would take pleasure from watching his wife with another man is counterintuitive. Historically, men have gone to great lengths to avoid being “cuckolded,” or finding their wives impregnated by someone else. Not only does cuckoldry limit men’s ability to “spread their seed,” but it forces them to expend scarce resources raising someone else’s kids. The fear of cuckoldry is thought to be a key factor that shaped how our male ancestors approached sexual relationships and, to this day, is considered by many scientists to be the reason men tend to get more jealous (often violently so) about their partners’ sexual infidelity than women.

Increasingly, scientists favor a biological explanation based on a growing body of work on sperm competition. Research shows that when one woman mates with several men, those men can display behavioral and biological changes intended to increase their likelihood of fertilizing her egg—without even realizing it. For example, when men masturbate to porn featuring multiple men having sex with the same woman, their ejaculate contains more active sperm than it does when they beat off to an all-female threesome, according to a 2005 study of 52 men. Other research has found that men report thrusting faster and deeper during sex when they suspect their female partner has cheated, presumably as a way of displacing rival sperm. These findings suggest the provocative possibility that men are “wired” to find cuckold scenarios arousing because they promote behaviors that help their own sperm win a raging intra-vaginal sperm war.

I don’t have a better explanation than the hypothesizes in the article or above but I know something is going on with me.

An example. Jo and I were at Club Topaz last night. I played with Miriam while her husband,  Mitch, was with Racheal (Jo was with Racheal’s friend Lane). After Miriam, Mitch, Racheal, and I were done Miriam and Mitch left. Racheal and I cuddled while watching Jo and Lane. We cuddled and petted for a long time before finally having sex with each other. Watching Jo with another guy and knowing Racheal had been having sex with another guy shortly before me was very arousing.