Gettin' It On Vs. Givin' It Up: The Association Between Sexual Goals, Interdependence and Sexual Desire in Long-Term Relationships




Muise, Amy

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


University of Guelph


Love and sex change over the course of a relationship. The current research investigates the factors that contribute to sexual desire and sexual satisfaction in long-term couples. In two studies, the association between motivational goals for sex, interdependence, and sexual outcomes were explored. Study 1 was a cross-sectional survey. The results of Study 1 revealed that participants who engaged in sex more often for approach goals reported higher levels of desire, whereas participants who engaged in sex more often for avoidance goals reported lower levels of desire. Study 2 was a 21-day daily experience study involving a subset of the participants from Study 1. The results of Study 2 indicated that on days when participants reported engaging in sex more for approach goals they reported greater sexual desire, whereas on days when participants reported engaging in sex more for avoidance goals they reported lower levels of sexual desire. Partner-focused, as opposed to self-focused sexual goals, were primarily responsible for these associations. In both studies, relationship satisfaction was also associated with higher desire, and this was mediated by the tendency of people who are more satisfied to engage in sex more often for approach goals. In Study 2, approach goals moderated the impact of avoidance goals on sexual desire, and this association differed by gender. Stronger approach goals buffered against declines in sexual desire associated with avoidance goals for women, but not for men. The findings support the utility of applying a motivational framework to the study of sexuality in established couples and the greater relevance of partner-focused sexual goals in long-term relationships.



sexual desire, sexual goals, sexual motivation, sexual satisfaction, relationship satisfaction, romantic relationships, long-term relationships, couples, interdependence