chapter  19
20 Pages

Sex in “His” Versus “Her” Relationships

ByKathleen D. Vohs, Kathleen R. Catanese, Roy F. Baumeister

This chapter discusses several new theories about gender, sexuality, and intimate relationships. First, evidence pertaining towhethermen andwomen differ in the strength of sexual motivation (i.e., sex drive) is reviewed. Across 12 diverse areas of sexuality, we found conclusively that men have a stronger sex drive than women, a difference that has implications for the timing, course, and function of sex within close relationships. We next detail a theory called Erotic Plasticity, which describes differences in the flexibility and malleability of men’s and women’s sex drive. We provide evidence in support of the idea that women’s sexual preferences, desires, and overall sex drive is more responsive to sociocultural, personal, and situational influences relative to men’s sex drive. Last, we discuss a provocative new theory called Sex Exchange Theory that depicts sexual negotiations between men and women as driven by social exchange principles. In this analysis, the “resource” of sex resides within a woman, who must receive equitable resources from a man (e.g., emotional support, respect, material goods, relationship stability) in exchange for sexual encounters with her. Using the frameworks presented in this chapter, a variety of findings from the literatures of sexuality, gender, and close relationships can be interpreted.