Social Psychology

Good, giving, and game: Research confirms that Dan Savage’s sex advice works

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The so-called “GGG approach” to relationships now has scientific research to back it up.

People who are highly motivated to meet their partner’s sexual needs end up with partners who feel more satisfied and committed to their relationship, according to research published October 10 in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.

The popular sex advice columnist Dan Savage coined the phrase “good, giving, and game” — or GGG — to describe the attitude that sexual partners should have towards one another in a healthy relationship. As Savage has explained: “Think good in bed, giving based on a partner’s sexual interests, and game for anything — within reason.”

Researchers Amy Muise and Emily A. Impett of the University of Toronto Mississauga conducted two studies of married and cohabitating couples to investigate the merits of the “GGG approach.”

“Savage suggests that it is important to consider and place a premium on meeting a partner’s sexual needs in a relationship,” they wrote in the study. “Since most partnered sexual behavior occurs in established intimate relationships, romantic partners play a key role in promoting each other’s sexual fulfillment. Thus, it seems likely that people should feel especially satisfied with and committed to their relationships if they have a partner who is highly motivated to meet their sexual needs.”

The researchers recruited 118 cohabiting heterosexual couples from the United States, who completed a 30-minute online survey at the beginning of the study and another online survey three weeks later. This short-term longitudinal study found that people who were more motivated to meet their partner’s sexual needs at the beginning of the study had partners who were more satisfied and committed to the relationship at the end of the study.

But the findings became murky when other relationship factors were considered.

“The effects did not remain [statistically] significant above and beyond the effects of a person’s own relationship quality,” Muise and Impett noted.

Their second study, however, ended up with more robust findings.

The researchers recruited 44 couples from the Toronto area and had each partner complete a 10-minute survey each night for 21 consecutive days. This second study confirmed the findings from the first study. More importantly, the findings remained statistically significant when the partner’s self-reported relationship quality was thrown into the mix.

“In ongoing relationships, romantic partners play a key role in fulfilling each other’s sexual desires,” Muise and Impett wrote. “Taken together, the findings from these two studies suggest that people who are both giving and game in the bedroom tend to have romantic partners who recognize these efforts, feel satisfied, and are committed to making their relationships last.”