Little is understood about motivational or cognitive factors that might contribute to the often documented poor relational and sexual functioning among women with borderline personality disorder (BPD). This study examined motivational factors, such as sex for avoidance versus approach motives and compliant and desired sex among women with heightened BPD features. Thirty young adult women in mixed-sex, dating relationships completed an assessment of BPD via videoconference, answered an online battery of baseline questionnaires, and responded to online daily diary questionnaires assessing relationship outcomes and sexual experiences over a 14-day period. Hypotheses were that (a) women with higher BPD features would endorse greater sexual risk-taking, greater avoidance motives for sex, greater sexual compliance, and poorer relational and sexual outcomes compared to women with lower BPD features, (b) avoidance motives would partially mediate the relation between BPD features and poorer outcomes, and (c) sexual compliance would partially mediate the relation between avoidance motives and poorer outcomes. Findings partially supported these hypotheses, showing that (a) BPD features were associated with higher avoidance motives for sex, greater sexual compliance, poorer relational satisfaction, sexual satisfaction, and commitment (but not greater sexual risk-taking), (b) avoidance motives for sex partially mediated the relation between BPD features and sexual satisfaction, and fully mediated the relation between BPD features and relational satisfaction and commitment, and (c) sexual compliance predicted more negative relationship outcomes and partially mediated the association between avoidance motives and sexual satisfaction (but not relationship satisfaction or commitment). These findings highlight the impact of sexual motives on the sexual behaviours and experiences of women with BPD features. Future research should explore interventions targeting avoidance motives for sex to improve the sexual relationships of women with BPD features.
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Thesis advisor: Chapman, Alexander
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