Scientists at the University of Texas at Austin wanted to know why people have sex. They came up with 237 reasons.
by Carson Abrir
While Indiana University may be known for understanding how people have sex, scientists at the University of Texas at Austin wanted to know why. After a truly exhaustive study of 400 mostly college-age men and women, followed up by a survey of an additional 1,500 undergrads, the Texas team led by psychologists David Buss and Cindy Meston came up with an astonishing 237 reasons people have sex.
Buss and Meston condensed the 237 reasons into four major categories to explain why people have sex:
- Physical reasons such as to reduce stress (“It seemed like good exercise”), feel pleasure (“It’s exciting”), improve or expand experiences (“I was curious about sex”), and the physical desirability of their partner (“The person was a good dancer”).
- Goal-based reasons, including utilitarian or practical considerations (“I wanted to have a baby”), social status (“I wanted to be popular”) and revenge (“I wanted to give someone else a sexually transmitted disease”).
- Emotional reasons such as love and commitment (“I wanted to feel connected”) and expression (“I wanted to say ‘thank you'”).
- Insecurity-based reasons, including self-esteem (“I wanted the attention”), a feeling of duty or pressure (“My partner kept insisting”) and to guard a mate (“I wanted to keep my partner from straying”).
With appreciation to Dr. John Grohl of PsychCentral, here’s the complete list:
1. I was ‘‘in the heat of the moment.’’
2. It just happened.
3. I was bored.
4. It just seemed like ‘‘the thing to do.’’
5. Someone dared me.
6. I desired emotional closeness “(i.e.,” intimacy).
7. I wanted to feel closer to God.
8. I wanted to gain acceptance from my friends.
9. It’s “exciting,” adventurous.
10. I wanted to make up after a fight.
11. I wanted to get rid of aggression.
12. I was under the influence of drugs.
13. I wanted to have something to tell my friends.
14. I wanted to express my love for the person.
15. I wanted to experience the physical pleasure.
16. I wanted to show my affection to the person.
17. I felt like I owed it to the person.
18. I was attracted to the person.
19. I was sexually aroused and wanted the release.
20. My friends were having sex and I wanted to fit in.
21. It feels good.
22. My partner kept insisting.
23. The person was famous and I wanted to be able to say I had sex with him/her.
24. I was physically forced to.
25. I was verbally coerced into it.
26. I wanted the person to love me.
27. I wanted to have a child.
28. I wanted to make someone else jealous.
29. I wanted to have more sex than my friends.
30. I was married and you’re supposed to.
31. I was tired of being a virgin.
32. I was ‘‘horny.’’
33. I wanted to feel loved.
34. I was feeling lonely.
35. Everyone else was having sex.
36. I wanted the attention.
37. It was easier to ‘‘go all the way’’ than to stop.
38. I wanted to ensure the relationship was ‘‘committed.’’
39. I was competing with someone else to ‘‘get the person.’’
40. I wanted to ‘‘gain control’’ of the person.
41. I was curious about what the person was like in bed.
42. I was curious about sex.
43. I wanted to feel attractive.
44. I wanted to please my partner.
45. I wanted to display submission.
46. I wanted to release anxiety/stress.
47. I didn’t know how to say ‘‘no.’’
48. I felt like it was my duty.
49. I wanted to end the relationship.
50 My friends pressured me into it.
51. I wanted the adventure/excitement.
52. I wanted the experience.
53. I felt obligated to.
54. It’s fun.
55. I wanted to get even with someone “(i.e.,” get revenge).
56. I wanted to be popular.
57. It would get me gifts.
58. I wanted to act out a fantasy.
59. I hadn’t had sex for a while.
60. The person was ‘‘available.’’
61. I didn’t want to ‘‘lose’’ the person.
62. I thought it would help ‘‘trap’’ a new partner.
63. I wanted to make someone else jealous.
64. I felt sorry for the person.
65. I wanted to feel powerful.
66. I wanted to ‘‘possess’’ the person.
67. I wanted to release tension.
68. I wanted to feel good about myself.
69. I was slumming.
70. I felt rebellious.
71. I wanted to intensify my relationship.
72. It seemed like the natural next step.
73. I wanted to be nice.
74. I wanted to feel connected to the person.
75. I wanted to feel young.
76. I wanted to manipulate him/her into doing something for me.
77. I wanted him/her to stop bugging me about sex.
78. I wanted to hurt/humiliate the person.
79. I wanted the person to feel good about themselves.
80. I didn’t want to disappoint the person.
81. I was trying to ‘‘get over’’ an earlier person/relationship.
82. I wanted to reaffirm my sexual orientation.
83. I wanted to try out new sexual techniques or positions.
84. I felt guilty.
85. My hormones were out of control.
86. It was the only way my partner would spend time with me.
87. It became a habit.
88. I wanted to keep my partner happy.
89. I had no self-control.
90. I wanted to communicate at a deeper level.
91. I was afraid my partner would have an affair if I didn’t have sex with him/her.
92. I was curious about my sexual abilities.
93. I wanted a ‘‘spiritual’’ experience.
94. It was just part of the relationship ‘‘routine’’.
95. I wanted to lose my inhibitions.
96. I got ‘‘carried away.’’
97. I needed another ‘‘notch on my belt.’’
98. The person demanded that I have sex with him/her.
99. The opportunity presented itself.
100. I wanted to see what it would be like to have sex while stoned “(e.g.,” on marijuana or some other drug).
101. It’s considered ‘‘taboo’’ by society.
102. I wanted to increase the number of sex partners I had experienced.
103. The person was too ‘‘hot’’ (sexy) to resist.
104. I thought it would relax me.
105. I thought it would make me feel healthy.
106. I wanted to experiment with new experiences.
107. I wanted to see what it would be like to have sex with another person.
108. I thought it would help me to fall asleep.
109. I could brag to other people about my sexual experience.
110. It would allow me to ‘‘get sex out of my system’’ so that I could focus on other things.
111. I wanted to decrease my partner’s desire to have sex with someone else.
112. It would damage my reputation if I said ‘‘no.’’
113. The person was too physically attractive to resist.
114. I wanted to celebrate something.
115. I was seduced.
116. I wanted to make the person feel better about themselves.
117. I wanted to increase the emotional bond by having sex.
118. I wanted to see whether sex with a different partner would feel different or better.
119. I was mad at my “partner,” so I had sex with someone else.
120. I wanted to fulfill a previous promise to my partner.
121. It was expected of me.
122. I wanted to keep my partner from straying.
123. I wanted the pure pleasure.
124. I wanted to dominate the other person.
125. I wanted to make a conquest.
126. I’m addicted to sex.
127. It was a favor to someone.
128. I wanted to be used or degraded.
129. Someone offered me money to do it.
130. I was drunk.
131. It seemed like good exercise.
132. I was pressured into doing it.
133. The person offered to give me drugs for doing it.
134. I was frustrated and needed relief.
135. It was a romantic setting.
136. I felt insecure.
137. My regular partner is “boring,” so I had sex with someone else.
138. I was on the ‘‘rebound’’ from another relationship.
139. I wanted to boost my self-esteem.
140. I wanted to get my partner to stay with me.
141. Because of a bet.
142. It was a special occasion.
143. I wanted to get a special favor from someone.
144. I wanted to get back at my partner for having cheated on me.
145. I wanted to enhance my reputation.
146. I wanted to keep warm.
147. I wanted to punish myself.
148. I wanted to break up a rival’s relationship by having sex with his/her partner.
149. I wanted to stop my partners’ nagging.
150. I wanted to impress friends.
151. I wanted to achieve an orgasm.
152. I wanted to brag to my friends about my conquests.
153. I wanted to improve my sexual skills.
154. I wanted to get a job.
155. I wanted to get a raise.
156. I wanted to get a promotion.
157. I wanted to satisfy a compulsion.
158. I wanted to make money.
159. I wanted to keep my partner satisfied.
160. I wanted to change the topic of conversation.
161. I wanted to get out of doing something.
162. I wanted to test my compatibility with a new partner.
163. I wanted to get a partner to express love.
164. I wanted to put the passion back into my relationship.
165. I wanted to prevent a breakup.
166. I wanted to become one with another person.
167. I wanted to get a favor from someone.
168. I wanted to breakup my relationship.
169. I wanted to give someone else a sexually transmitted disease “(e.g.,” “herpes,” AIDS).
170. I wanted to breakup another’s relationship.
171. I wanted to avoid hurting someone’s feelings.
172. I wanted to make myself feel better about myself.
173. I wanted to get rid of a headache.
174. I was afraid to say ‘‘no’’ due to the possibility of physical harm.
175. I wanted to keep my partner from straying.
176. I wanted to burn calories.
177. I wanted to even the score with a cheating partner.
178. I wanted to hurt an enemy.
179. I wanted to feel older.
180. I wanted to raise my self-esteem.
181. It was an initiation rite to a club or organization.
182. I wanted to become more focused on work – sexual thoughts are distracting.
183. I wanted to say ‘‘I’ve missed you.’’
184. I wanted to celebrate a birthday or anniversary or special occasion.
185. I wanted to say ‘‘I’m sorry.’’
186. I wanted to return a favor.
187. I wanted to say ‘‘Thank you.’’
188. I wanted to welcome someone home.
189. I wanted to say ‘‘goodbye.’’
190. I wanted to defy my parents.
191. I wanted to relieve menstrual cramps.
192. I wanted to relieve ‘‘blue balls.’’
193. I wanted to get the most out of life.
194. I wanted to feel feminine.
195. I wanted to feel masculine.
196. I am a sex addict.
197. I wanted to see what all the fuss is about.
198. I thought it would boost my social status.
199. The person had a lot of money.
200. The person’s physical appearance turned me on.
201. The person was a good dancer.
202. Someone had told me that this person was good in bed.
203. The person had beautiful eyes.
204. The person made me feel sexy.
205. An erotic movie had turned me on.
206. The person had taken me out for an expensive dinner.
207. The person was a good kisser.
208. The person had bought me jewelry.
209. The person had a great sense of humor.
210. The person seemed self-confident.
211. The person really desired me.
212. The person was really desired by others.
213. I wanted to gain access to that person’s friend.
214. I felt jealous.
215. The person flattered me.
216. I wanted to see if I could get the other person into bed.
217. The person had a desirable body.
218. I had not had sex in a long time.
219. The person smelled nice.
220. The person had an attractive face.
221. I saw the person naked and could not resist.
222. I was turned on by the sexual conversation.
223. The person was intelligent.
224. The person caressed me.
225. The person wore revealing clothes.
226. The person had too much to drink and I was able to take advantage of them.
227. I knew the person was usually ‘‘out of my league.’’
228. The person was mysterious.
229. I realized I was in love.
230. I wanted to forget about my problems.
231. I wanted to reproduce.
232. I wanted to feel loved.
233. I wanted my partner to notice me.
234. I wanted to help my partner forget about their problems.
235. I wanted to lift my partner’s spirits.
236. I wanted to submit to my partner.
237. I wanted to make my partner feel powerful.