A common reason why people in ongoing romantic relationships report engaging in sex with their partner—in addition to pursuing their own pleasure—is to meet their partner’s sexual needs. While meeting a partner’s needs with responsiveness and care is crucial in romantic relationships, it is important, especially in the domain of sexuality, that people do not neglect their own needs when meeting the needs of their partner. In a 21-day daily experience study of both members of 122 romantic couples recruited from the community, we tested whether being responsive to a partner’s sexual needs (i.e., high sexual communal strength) and focusing on a partner’s needs while neglecting one’s own needs (i.e., high unmitigated sexual communion) were associated with both partners’ daily sexual and relationship satisfaction. We also tested attention to positive partner-focused and negative self-focused cues during the sexual experience as novel mechanisms of these effects. The results generally showed that on days when people (or their romantic partner) reported higher sexual communal strength, they reported greater attention to positive partner-focused sexual cues and, in turn, both partners experienced greater daily sexual and relationship satisfaction. In contrast, on days when people reported higher unmitigated sexual communion, they reported greater attention to negative self-focused sexual cues and, in turn, experienced lower relationship and sexual satisfaction, although these effects did not extend to their romantic partner. Implications of the results for promoting higher quality sexual experiences and relationships are discussed.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Close relationships, communal motivation, sexuality, social psychology, unmitigated communion
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1177/0265407518787349
Journal Journal of Social and Personal Relationships
Citation
Impett, E.A. (Emily A.), Muise, A. (Amy), & Harasymchuk, C. (2018). Giving in the bedroom: The costs and benefits of responding to a partner’s sexual needs in daily life. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. doi:10.1177/0265407518787349