Sexual sparks fly when partners do their share of chores – including calling the plumber

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Our research acknowledged the nuances of women’s desire and its strong link to relationship quality by exploring how fairness in relationships can affect desire.

The research involved asking 299 Australian women aged 18-39 questions about desire and relationships.

These questions included ratings of household chores, mental workload — such as who organized social activities and made financial arrangements — and who had more free time.

We compared three groups:

  • relationships where women perceived work as equally shared (the “equal work” group)
  • when the woman felt she was doing more work (the “women’s work” group)
  • when women believed that their partner contributed more (the “partner’s work” group).

We then explored the impact of these differences in relational equity on female sexual desire.

What we found

The conclusions were striking. Women who rated their relationships as equal also reported greater relationship satisfaction and higher dyadic desire (intertwined with relationship dynamics) than other women in the study.

Unfortunately (and perhaps telling), the partner working group was too small to draw any substantial conclusions.

However, for the women’s task force, it was clear that their dyadic desire was diminished. This group was also less satisfied with their relationships in general.

We found something interesting in turning our attention to women’s solo desire. Although it seems logical that relational inequalities can affect all aspects of women’s sexuality, our results showed that equity did not have a significant impact on solo desire.

This suggests that women’s low desire is not an internal sexual problem to be dealt with with mindfulness apps and jade eggs, but rather a problem that requires effort from both partners.

Other relational factors come into play. We found that children increased women’s workload, leading to less relationship equity and, therefore, less sexual desire.

The duration of the relationship also played a role. Research shows that long-term relationships are associated with less desire for women, and this is often attributed to the boredom of too much familiarity (think bored, asexual wives in 90s sitcoms).

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