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We live in a world where we are bombarded by sex.

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Whether we believe ourselves to be impacted by the sexual nature of so much mainstream content or not, sex is an important facet in the vast majority of our lives. It can be a source of pleasure, a trigger for loneliness, an addiction, and even the basis to which we gauge our connection to a partner.

A new series of studies from the University of Toronto set out to identify the potential correlation between our beliefs and the level of sexual satisfaction that we experience with a partner.

The studies focus on two core beliefs that individuals tend to hold towards sexual satisfaction:

  1. Sexual Growth Belief: Sexual satisfaction is something that must be continually worked for and is attained as the byproduct of hard work and effort.
  2. Sexual Destiny Belief: Sexual satisfaction is found by finding a compatible sexual partner with which the chemistry flows naturally.

A total of approximately 1900 subjects were observed through six studies (two cross-sectional online studies, two dyadic studies, a 21-day daily experience study, and an experimental manipulation), all of which were combined to produce its findings.

The researchers concluded that those who hold beliefs more in line with that of sexual growth tend to experience higher relationship and sexual satisfaction. Their partners also tend to be more content when the satisfaction is continually worked for rather than expected.

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Those who hold beliefs close to that of sexual destiny tend to be more susceptible to fluctuations in satisfaction since they are contingent upon compatibility. These individuals also tend to let any and all sexual disagreements ripple into their overall level of relationship satisfaction as well.

Jessica Maxwell, a PhD candidate in the Department of Psychology in the Faculty of Arts & Science at U of T, and a lead researcher on the study summarized the findings as this:

“People who believe in sexual destiny are using their sex life as a barometer for how well their relationship is doing, and they believe problems in the bedroom equal problems in the relationship as a whole.” (source)

Life is a Process

These findings align with the view that life as a whole is a continual process of self discovery and growth. Even if we do find a partner with which the chemistry seems natural and effortless, the chances of it remaining that way is likely very slim given how much we as individuals tend to change throughout our lives.

By recognizing the potential for change, we not only keep ourselves aware of potential shifts in the sexual chemistry being experienced, but we also position ourselves to be proactive in addressing and hopefully remedying it.

Does this Contradict the Idea of Soul Mates?

The sexual destiny belief can quite easily be connected to the romanticized idea of finding a soul mate or “the one.” While I do personally believe that there are matches for us in the world that we are far more compatible with, I do not think that there is any potential partnership that would be void of conflict altogether.

Conflict (including sexual issues) is a part of life, and even some of the most remarkable and long-standing couples I know regularly attribute their mutual willingness to change and work on things as the foundation to their happy partnership.

It’s up to us to choose how much power we want to give to the idea of finding the most compatible partner, but to recognize that our continued level of satisfaction with them will always be a work in progress.

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