Because everyone needs their worldview toppled every now and again, a new study from the University of Toronto just shattered my optimism by isolating the real reasons couples have sex. And trust me – it’s not what you think.

Rather than doing the deed for fun, to relieve sexual tension, or just out of plain old Lusty McPleasureson reasons (how novel), researchers found that couples’ horizontal motivations fell into one of two categories: approach or avoidance.

Holy f**king depressing, Canada. Thanks a lot.

The approach method means that the participants are trying to feel connected to their partner, and the avoidance motive “aims to evade a negative outcome,” i.e. to avoid conflict or to avoid feeling guilty. And speaking as a female who (earmuffs, mom and dad) genuinely enjoys having sex, I have to say, wow – it just doesn’t get any more romantic than that, gentlemen.

The study included couples who were dating, cohabitating, or married, and further divided the avoidance and approach findings down into self-focused and partner-focused goals.

While the survey found that motivations were generally similar whether the couples were dating, cohabitating, or actually married, regardless of the respondent’s gender, and also didn’t vary greatly depending upon frequency of sexual encounters (ugh, really?), they did learn that a person’s sexual motivation greatly affected his or her partner’s gratification. I mean…duh.

So basically, couples know each other well enough to know when their partner’s heart isn’t in it, or when his or her motivations are off. Which, while still depressing, is at least a good sign. Right? Trying to find a silver lining here, people.

Interestingly enough, researchers placed special focus on whether it really matters to your partner why you want to have sex, so long as they’re getting what they want. The answer, they found, is yes. Additionally, they aimed to find out if it’s better to have sex for negative, or avoidance, reasons than not at all, and found that the answer is…complicated.

“Research shows that on days when we have sex we feel more satisfied in our relationship than on days when we don’t. And yet when people have sex more often for negative motives, the bad outcomes build up over time.” Sigh. So then are we all figuratively, if not literally, screwed?

Not necessarily. The study suggested that for couples feeling like they’d just rather go to sleep most nights, they should try tuning into the emotional connection between his or herself and their partner to help the physical connection fall into place. Communicating more about topics outside of the bedroom not surprisingly helps resolve issues inside the bedroom. So get to talking, everybody. Stat.

And if all else fails, there’s always lingerie, porn, or hitting the gym to try and rev up a stalled sex life. Just don’t resort to the charity f**k. There’s nothing worse than throwing your partner a bone out of sheer obligation. Except, you know, not doing it at all.GEEK WINGMAN

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