chapter
4 Pages

Why a Handbook on Sexuality in Close Relationships is Warranted

ByJohn H. Harvey, Amy Wenzel, Susan Sprecher

Although sexuality is an integral part of close, romantic relationships, research linking these two constructs has been less systematic and less developed than some other areas of inquiry pertaining to close relationships. To some degree, this lack of development speaks to the difficulty of defining either close relationships or sexuality, to the absence of a reference to close relationships in definitions of sexuality, and to the absence of references to sexuality in definitions of close relationships. In an early, significant collection of writings about sexuality within various types of close relationships, McKinney and Sprecher (1991) defined sexuality as referring to “sexual behaviors, arousal, and responses, as well as to sexual attitudes, desires, and communication” (p. 2). Similarly, a close relationship has been defined as a relationship involving “strong, frequent, and diverse interdependence [between two people] that lasts over a considerable period of time” (p. 38, Kelley et al., 1983). Added to this latter definition might be the stipulation that the two people mutually consider themselves as involved in a close relationship (Harvey & Weber, 2002).