Gender, Sex Ed

Why Rough Sex is Arousing to So Many People

January 3, 2020 by Justin Lehmiller


Rough sex is one of the most popular sexual fantasies. While it’s a common fantasy theme across genders, it is especially common among women. As I discuss in my book Tell Me What You Want, women are more likely to report having had most kinds of BDSM fantasies and they report having them more often compared to men.

So why is rough sex such a common turn-on?

A new study published in the journal Evolutionary Psychological Science offers some insight. This article is the subject of a recent column I wrote over at Men’s Health. The study, based on a survey of more than 700 US college students, found that a majority reported having engaged in consensual rough sex before (think things like spanking, slapping, tying a partner up or being tied up, etc.).

When asked to compare their rough sex experiences to “typical sex,” men and women alike reported that it tended to be more arousing and that their orgasms were more intense. Men also reported thrusting more vigorously during intercourse, and women reported reaching orgasm faster. Given that, on average, women report that it takes them about twice as long to orgasm as men, faster orgasms might be part of the appeal of this activity to women.

Participants were also asked about the factors that tend to trigger rough sex. Among the more common triggers were the need for sexual novelty (in other words, just wanting to try something new and different), alcohol consumption, and having already been in a heightened state of arousal, such as having just had a fight or having just exercised.

Another trigger, at least for men, was having been separated from one’s partner or suspecting one’s partner of cheating. Why might these specific scenarios lead men to be more interested in rough sex? Check out the full article over at Men’s Health to learn more about this and some of the other factors that make rough sex appealing.

Want to learn more about Sex and Psychology ? Click here for previous articles or follow the blog on Facebook (, Twitter (@JustinLehmiller), or Reddit ( to receive updates. You can also follow Dr. Lehmiller on YouTube and Instagram.

Image Source: 123RF

You Might Also Like:

Post Featured Image
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.

Read full bio >