Sexual discrepancies can be deﬁned as partners’ diﬀerences in sexual desire, attitudes, and preferred activities (Cupach & Metts, 1995; Davies et al, 1999; Sprecher & Cate, 2004). Many romantic partners encounter sexual discrepancies (Sprecher & Cate, 2004) such as one person’s desire for more types of sexual behaviors than the partner (Hatﬁeld et al, 1988). The small body of research on sexual discrepancies examines primarily the association between sexual discrepancies and relationship quality (e.g., sexual satisfaction and relationship satisfaction; Cupach & Metts, 1995; Davies et al, 1999; Purnine & Carey, 1997). The purpose of our study was to extend this line of research to examine, from the perspective of the female partners, the communication between heterosexual partners as they address sexual discrepancies – speciﬁcally, how partners avoid and manage conﬂicts surrounding sexual discrepancies. Cupach and Metts (1995) posited that sexual partners are likely to frame sexual
discrepancies as “relationship problems” (e.g., Why does my partner not want/desire me?). Furthermore, Sprecher and Cate (2004, p248) noted that “when discrepancies exist between partners, there is either increased conﬂict or the potential for conﬂict”. Conﬂicts can arise concerning any aspect of sexual activities, including how sexual desire is initiated, how sexual initiations are accepted or rejected, as well as the partners’ communication about sexual likes and dislikes (Byers & Lewis, 1988; Morokoﬀ et al, 1997; Tschann, & Adler, 1997). Despite this commonly agreed-upon assumption of a potential causal relationship between sexual discrepancies and sexual conﬂicts, no previously published studies document conﬂicts about sexual discrepancies or the possible mediating role of eﬀective communication in ameliorating such conﬂicts. Perhaps sexual discrepancies do not necessarily become sexual conﬂicts if couples talk about discrepancies in a constructive way. Our study investigated female partners’ reports of communication with their heterosexual partners about sexual
discrepancies and the potential ameliorating eﬀects of communication in preventing or diﬀusing conﬂicts about sexual discrepancies.