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Sexual satisfaction in newlywed couples: the role of attachment and sexual motivations

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Thesis type
(Dissertation) Ph.D.
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People engage in sex to meet a variety of intra- and interpersonal goals. Some motives for having sex may be associated with how people meet attachment-related needs for emotional security in their intimate relationships. I examined how spouses’ motives for engaging in sexual activity and their perceptions of their partners’ sex motives were associated with their sexual satisfaction. I also examined how attachment orientation was associated with sex motives, and whether spouses’ sex motives mediated the relation between attachment security and sexual satisfaction. Both spouses in a sample of 163 newlywed couples completed self-reports of attachment orientation, sex motives, and sexual satisfaction. Attachment anxiety was related to having sex to avoid negative experiences, and sex motives involving the pursuit of pleasurable experiences were positively associated with sexual satisfaction. However, sex motives did not mediate the association between attachment orientation and sexual satisfaction. A gender-moderated link emerged from spouses’ attachment insecurity to sexual satisfaction: Husbands’ attachment anxiety independently and negatively predicted their sexual satisfaction, whereas wives’ attachment avoidance independently and negatively predicted their sexual satisfaction. Discussion focuses on the complex role of sex motives in couples’ sexual satisfaction and provides directions for future research.
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