Sex Ed

Sex News Roundup: Do People Really Have a Type When It Comes to Relationships?

January 10, 2020 by Justin Lehmiller

What’s going on in the world of sex and relationship research right now? Here’s a brief recap of the latest and greatest happenings. In this edition, we’ll review a new study looking at whether or not people tend to have a “type” when it comes to relationships. We’ll also explore some fascinating research looking at what men and women say sex is like when they are engaged in infidelity, and we’ll learn from a prominent sex researcher about how she got into the field and what she’s working on right now.

Most of us have a “type” when it comes to romantic relationships

Researchers at the University of Toronto studied more than 300 adult men and women for over a nine year period, during which time people entered and exited various relationships. What the researchers did was survey each participant and their partners about their personalities, and then they looked to see whether people tended to choose partners with certain traits over and over.

What they found was that people did indeed have a tendency to choose partners with similar traits. In other words, people’s exes and current partners tended to have similar personality profiles–and similarity between partners occurred above and beyond similarity to the self. So this isn’t just about us wanting to have a likeminded partner. Beyond this, there’s also a set of traits (or “type”) of person we seem to be drawn to.

However, some people seemed to be less consistent than others in partner selection. For example, people who were highly extraverted (meaning they are outgoing and social) were less likely to choose similar partners, perhaps because they have the opportunity to meet a wider range of people.

To learn more about this study, as well as what research says about whether we also have a physical “type” when it comes to relationships, check out the full report I wrote over at The Kinsey Institute Research Blog.

How does having a sexual rival change men’s sexual behavior?

Let’s say a man is having sex with a woman who is in a relationship with another man. What is the sex like in this situation, where the guy knows he has a sexual rival? A recent study suggests that both men and women say that the sex is more satisfying in these encounters than it is in cases where there is no sexual rival. In fact, regardless of gender, people say that it’s easier to orgasm and that their orgasms are longer-lasting and more intense.

Why is that? In part, it’s likely due to changes in the sex itself—men report thrusting faster and more vigorously in these situations. However, it could also be the taboo nature of the situation that heightens the sexual thrills. Some scientists also believe that there might be an evolutionary explanation that accounts for this. To learn more about this research and the various theories, check out this article I wrote on The Kinsey Institute Research Blog.

Interview with the sex researcher: Dr. Kristen Mark

What is a day in the life of a sex researcher like? I spoke to Dr. Kristen Mark to find out—and, as you’ll see in this interview I conducted with her for The Kinsey Institute, she’s pretty busy! Kristen is an associate professor at the University of Kentucky, where she studies a range of topics on human sexuality, including women’s sexual health, sexual desire, sexual satisfaction, and sexuality education. In her spare time, she writes articles on the science of sex for the popular media, participates in television interviews, and helps to shape sex education policy in her local area. Also, while holding down her academic job, she completed a counseling degree to become a sex and couple’s therapist! If anyone does it all, it’s Kristen!

Read the full transcript of our interview here, where we discuss her professional journey, what she’s working on in the lab right now, and what she sees as the biggest myths and misconceptions about sex.

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Written by
Dr. Justin Lehmiller
Founder & Owner of Sex and Psychology

Dr. Justin Lehmiller is a social psychologist and Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute. He runs the Sex and Psychology blog and podcast and is author of the popular book Tell Me What You Want. Dr. Lehmiller is an award-winning educator, and a prolific researcher who has published more than 50 academic works.

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