New psychology research indicates that gratitude motivates people to meet the sexual needs of their romantic partners. The study, published in Social Psychological and Personality Science, suggests those who feel appreciated by their partner and appreciative towards their partner tend to have a stronger sexual bond.
“I became interested in this topic because I think it is applicable to many people. Over the course of a romantic relationship, people will likely experience times when they do not feel sexually satisfied, and this can be harmful to their overall relationship satisfaction,” said study author Ashlyn Brady of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
“Recent findings suggest that having the motivation to fulfill a partner’s sexual needs (i.e., sexual communal strength) may help buffer romantic couples from experiencing these normative declines in sexual satisfaction; however, it was still unknown how people could enhance their motivation to fulfill their partner’s sexual needs. The current results help us to understand factors that promote sexual communal strength.”
The researchers first recruited 185 participants using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk service for a pilot study, which found that individuals who agreed more strongly with statements like “I appreciate my partner” and “My partner often tells me the things that she or he really likes about me” were more likely to say that fulfilling the sexual needs of their partner was a high priority.
Brady and her colleagues then conducted a longitudinal study with 118 heterosexual couples. The researchers found that gratitude was positively associated with changes in sexual communal strength over time.
To test whether there was a causal association, the researchers conducted an online experiment with 285 individuals. They found that participants who were randomly assigned to either write about being grateful towards their partner or perceiving gratitude from their partner tended to be more likely to report greater sexual communal strength compared to participants in the control conditions.
“Finding the motivation to fulfill a romantic partner’s sexual needs may be challenging at times, but it’s important to remember that there are simple steps that can be taken to enhance this motivation,” Brady told PsyPost.
“Our results suggest that gratitude, an emotion that arises in response to the recognition that another person has been beneficial or valuable to us, is one factor that predicts greater sexual communal strength. Thus, simply experiencing gratitude toward, or receiving gratitude from, a romantic partner can increase your motivation to fulfill your partner’s sexual needs and can help maintain this motivation over time.”
The new study extends previous research, which had found a sense of thankfulness and gratitude was associated with relationship commitment and responsiveness.
But the study — like all research — includes some caveats.
“Although our results suggest that gratitude is positively associated with the motivation to meet a partner’s sexual needs over time, it is possible that people may eventually become desensitized to the benefits of gratitude if they are frequently experiencing or receiving gratitude for the same reasons over and over again. For example, you may feel especially grateful for a romantic partner after the first time they make you dinner, but those grateful feelings may not be as influential after your romantic partner prepares dinner every night for many years,” Brady explained.
“Future research should explore how the effects of gratitude that are experienced for the same reasons persist or dissipate over time. Future research may also consider the difference between benefit-triggered gratitude (i.e., gratitude in response to a specific benefit) and more generalized appreciation (i.e., a broader appreciation for the value of a romantic partner).”
“We suggest that gratitude broadly has the ability to enhance the motivation to fulfill a partner’s sexual needs; however, whether one type of gratitude is more influential than the other is also an important question to consider.”
The study, “Gratitude Increases the Motivation to Fulfill a Partner’s Sexual Needs“, was authored by Ashlyn Brady, Levi R. Baker, Amy Muise, and Emily A. Impett.