Magazine article Psychology Today

The Long-View Lover

Magazine article Psychology Today

The Long-View Lover

Article excerpt

FOR CLUES about the strength of a relationship, we often look to how things are going in the bedroom. A recent paper in the Journal ofPersonality and Social Psychology turns the spotlight on another factor worth considering: our beliefs about why sex goes well.

In a series of studies, University of Toronto psychologist Jessica Maxwell and colleagues explored how subjects' feelings about their relationships were connected to how strongly they endorsed each of two sets of beliefs. Sexual growth beliefs encompass the idea that, in a typical relationship, a couple's sex life goes through phases of challenge and improvement. This outlook was represented by statements such as "Successful sexual relationships require regular maintenance." Sexual destiny beliefs, in contrast, depict sexual chemistry as a natural part of a relationship that is meant to be. ("A couple is either destined to have a satisfying sex life, or they are not.")

"People are so willing to work on other parts of their relationship," Maxwell says, "but I think when it comes to sex, some people say, 'We shouldn't have to work on that.'" She predicted that those who believe in the necessity of "working on it"-which could mean anything from planning time for sex to trying novel approaches-would have a more positive view of their relationships. …

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