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31 July 2007
The 237 Reasons Why We Have Sex
by George Atkinson

Think we have sex just for pleasure or to reproduce? Well, think again, as scientists from the University of Texas have just finished compiling an exhaustive list of the reasons why people play hide-the-salami.

The Austin-based researchers say the study, published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, is one of the most comprehensive ever, revealing 237 motivations - ranging from the spiritual to the vengeful.

Study authors David Buss and Cindy Meston said people's reasons ranged from the mundane ("I was bored") to the spiritual ("I wanted to feel closer to God") and from the altruistic ("I wanted the person to feel good about himself/herself") to the manipulative ("I wanted to get a promotion").

Some of the subjects said they had sex to feel powerful, others to debase themselves. Some wanted to impress their friends, others to harm their enemies ("I wanted to break up a rival's relationship").

The study identified four major categories of reasons:

  • Physical
    Such as reducing stress ("It seemed like good exercise"), feeling pleasure ("It's exciting"), improved or expanded experiences ("I was curious about sex"), and the physical desirability of their partner ("The person was a good dancer").

  • Goal-based
    These included utilitarian or practical considerations ("I wanted to have a baby"), social status ("I wanted to be popular") and revenge ("I wanted to give someone else a sexually transmitted disease").

  • Emotional
    Such as love and commitment ("I wanted to feel connected") and expression ("I wanted to say 'thank you'").

  • Insecurity-based reasons
    Including self-esteem ("I wanted the attention"), a feeling of duty or pressure ("My partner kept insisting") and to guard a mate ("I wanted to keep my partner from straying").

"Why people have sex is extremely important, but rarely studied," Buss noted. "Surprisingly, many scientists assume the answer is obvious, but people have different reasons for having sex, some of which are rather complex."

In case you're wondering, the top 10 reasons that men gave for having sex were:

  1. I was attracted to the person.
  2. It feels good.
  3. I wanted to experience physical pleasure.
  4. It's fun.
  5. I wanted to show my affection to the person.
  6. I was sexually aroused and wanted the release.
  7. I was horny.
  8. I wanted to express my love for the person.
  9. I wanted to achieve an orgasm.
  10. I wanted to please my partner.

And for women?

  1. I was attracted to the person.
  2. I wanted to experience physical pleasure.
  3. It feels good.
  4. I wanted to show my affection to the person.
  5. I wanted to express my love for the person.
  6. I was sexually aroused and wanted the release.
  7. I was horny.
  8. It's fun.
  9. I realised I was in love.
  10. I was "in the heat of the moment."

Related articles:
Sexually Happiest People Live In Western Nations
Disasters Mean More Sex
The Mating Dance: The Eyes Have It
America: The Sexual Superpower

Source: University of Texas at Austin

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