Sexuality

Books

Susan Sprecher & Kathleen McKinney

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  • Front Matter
  • Back Matter
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  • Sage Series on Close Relationships

    Series Editors

    Clyde Hendrick, Ph.D., and Susan S. Hendrick, Ph.D.

    In this series…

    ROMANTIC LOVE

    by Susan S. Hendrick and Clyde Hendrick

    COURTSHIP

    by Rodney M. Cate and Sally A. Lloyd

    ADULT FRIENDSHIP

    by Rosemary Blieszner and Rebecca G. Adams

    TWO CAREERS/ONE FAMILY

    by Lucia Albino Gilbert

    SELF-DISCLOSURE

    by Valerian J. Derlega, Sandra Metts,

    Sandra Petronio, and Stephen T. Margulis

    SEXUALITY

    by Susan Sprecher and Kathleen McKinney

    FACEWORK

    by William R. Cupach and Sandra Metts

    MEANINGFUL RELATIONSHIPS

    by Steve Duck

    REMARRIED FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS

    by Lawrence H. Ganong and Marilyn Coleman

    RELATIONSHIP CONFLICT

    by Daniel J. Canary, William R. Cupach, and Susan J. Messman

    RELATIONSHIPS IN CHRONIC ILLNESS AND DISABILITY

    by Renee F. Lyons, Michael J. L. Sullivan, and Paul G. Ritvo with James C. Coyne

    FRIENDSHIP PROCESSES

    by Beverley Fehr

    SOCIAL SUPPORT IN COUPLES

    by Carolyn E. Cutrona

    ADULT ATTACHMENT

    by Judith Feeney and Patricia Noller

    GENDER AND CLOSE RELATIONSHIPS

    by Barbara A. Winstead, Valarian J. Derlega, and Suzanna Rose

    MARITAL EQUALITY

    by Janice M. Steil

    Copyright

    View Copyright Page

    Dedication

    Dedicated to Our Families …

    Chuck, Abby, and Kate Bob, Ben, and Claire

    Series Editors' Introduction

    When we first began our work on love attitudes more than a decade ago, we did not know what to call our research area. In some ways it represented an extension of earlier work in interpersonal attraction. Most of our scholarly models were psychologists (though sociologists had long been deeply involved in the areas of courtship and marriage), yet we sometimes felt as if our work had no professional “home.” That has all changed. Our research not only has a home but also has an extended family, and the family is composed of relationship researchers. During the past decade the discipline of close relationships (also called personal relationships and intimate relationships) has emerged, developed, and flourished.

    Two aspects of close relationships research should be noted. The first is its rapid growth, resulting in numerous books, journals, handbooks, book series, and professional organizations. As fast as the field grows, the demand for even more research and knowledge seems to be ever increasing. Questions about close, personal relationships still far exceed answers. The second noteworthy aspect of the new discipline of close relationships is its interdisciplinary nature. The field owes its vitality to scholars from communications, family studies and human development, psychology (clinical, counseling, developmental, social), and sociology, as well as other disciplines such as nursing and social work. It is this interdisciplinary wellspring that gives close relationships research its diversity and richness, qualities that we hope to achieve in the current series.

    The Sage Series on Close Relationships is designed to acquaint diverse readers with the most up-to-date information about various topics in close relationships theory and research. Each volume in the series covers a particular topic or theme in one area of close relationships. Each book reviews the particular topic area, describes contemporary research in the area (including the authors’ own work, where appropriate), and offers some suggestions for interesting research questions and/or real-world applications related to the topic. The volumes are designed to be appropriate for students and professionals in communication, family studies, psychology, sociology, and social work, among others. A basic assumption of the series is that the broad panorama of close relationships can best be portrayed by authors from multiple disciplines, so that the series cannot be “captured” by any single disciplinary bias.

    This volume, Sexuality, offers a timely, comprehensive, and readable portrait of sexuality in the context of close relationships. Susan Sprecher and Kathleen McKinney have culled the vast literature on sexuality in an attempt to present readers with as complete a picture as possible of current theory and research in the area. The authors guide us from sexuality during the courtship context through sexual satisfaction in long-term relationships and other topics and end with a quietly compelling commentary on sexual coercion in close relationships. In an interesting yet scholarly fashion, the authors document the crucial role of sexuality in so much of our intimate relating.

    ClydeHendrick
    Susan S.Hendrick, Series Editors

    Preface

    This book deals with sexuality in close relationships. Several aspects of sexuality in close relationships are discussed throughout, including sexual attitudes, sexual behaviors, sexual satisfaction, and sexual coercion. Sexuality is not an aspect of all close relationships. We focus on one special type of close relationship—the sexually based primary relationship. Scanzoni, Polonko, Teachman, and Thompson (1989) defined such relationships as those in which “the persons define sexual exchanges or interdependence as a legitimate element/expectation for their type of relationship (whether or not they are currently engaging in sexual activities)” (p. 47). The major types of sexually based relationships are dating, cohabiting, and marital relationships. All three types are discussed in this book. Furthermore, as much as possible, we focus on both heterosexual and homosexual relationships. We are limited in our coverage of homosexual relationships, however, due to the dearth of research on this topic.

    Sexuality and close relationships, as two distinct research areas, are interdisciplinary fields, as is the conjunction of the two (sexuality in close relationships). The material reviewed in this book comes from many disciplines. Although we bring our own backgrounds of sociology and social psychology to this book, many other disciplines are represented as well, including psychology, communication, and family studies. This book should be of interest to students, researchers, and practitioners in these disciplines and also may be of interest to a general audience. However, we targeted the book specifically for students and researchers interested in the fields of close relationships and sexuality. Our hope is that this book will stimulate more empirical and theoretical work in the interface between these two fields.

    We begin, in Chapter 1, by discussing attitudes about sexuality in close relationships. The focus of this chapter is on attitudes about sexual behavior at different levels of emotional involvement in dating relationships, although research on attitudes about sex in other types of relationships also is summarized. We consider how attitudes have changed over time and the factors that influence how sexually liberal or traditional a person is in his or her views.

    In Chapter 2 we provide a brief overview of how a sexual relationship begins, including a discussion of factors that affect initial romantic attraction and sexual attraction, and expand to consider issues such as whether a person's sexual history affects how desirable he or she is for an intimate relationship.

    In Chapter 3 we discuss how partners come to have sex for the first time. We consider the decision-making process behind this first time, how partners express their sexual interest and perceive sexual interest in the other, the degree to which partners talk about their respective sexual histories and condom use before having sex, and several other topics concerning the pathway to initial sexual involvement.

    The two variables frequently examined in the study of sexuality in more developed close relationships (e.g., marriage) include frequency of sex and sexual satisfaction. These variables are the focus of Chapter 4. We discuss how frequently American couples have sex, what they do while they have sex, how satisfied they are with their sex life, and the factors that influence both frequency and sexual satisfaction.

    In Chapter 5 we relate sexual aspects of the relationship to other feelings and behaviors relevant to the relationship. The couple's sex life is not isolated from their general relationship satisfaction, the degree to which and how they love each other, any conflicts in their relationship, and the fairness of their relationship. We discuss these associations and present evidence concerning how sex can affect whether the couple breaks up or stays together. The importance of communication to a happy sex life also is discussed.

    We turn to a negative side of sexuality in Chapter 6. Although sex in a close relationship is usually consensual, we show that a significant number of females (and also some males) are forced to have sex against their will, either in a dating or even a more committed relationship. We discuss the factors that influence the likelihood of coercive sex and the consequences for the individual victim and for the relationship.

    Chapter 7 is our epilogue. We reprise the major themes of the book, make suggestions for future research, and discuss the importance of disseminating scientific knowledge on sexuality in close relationships to the general public.

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    About the Authors

    Susan Sprecher is Professor of Sociology and Anthropology at Illinois State University at Normal. She received her Ph.D. in sociology (with a social psychology concentration) from the University of Wisconsin in 1985. She has conducted research and written primarily in the field of close relationships but also has done work in the area of sexuality and the interface between the two areas. Her articles and chapters have been on a variety of topics, including sexual attitudes, premarital relationship breakups, emotions, love, the role of physical attractiveness in attraction, equity and exchange, and the initiation of relationships. She is active in organizations on close or personal relationships, including serving as Editor (1988–1992) of Bulletin for the International Society of the Study of Personal Relationships and on the editorial boards of Journal of Social and Personal Relationships and Journal of Sex Research.

    Kathleen McKinney obtained her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin at Madison in 1982. Her major field is sociology, with a minor in social psychology. She has taught at Oklahoma State University and is currently Professor of Sociology at Illinois State University at Normal. She has written several journal articles and a book chapter on sexual harassment in academia. Currently she is involved in an interview study of faculty at three institutions, discussing their experiences with sexual harassment. Other areas of research include sexual standards and contraceptive attitudes. She also co-edited Human Sexuality: The Societal and Interpersonal Context (Ablex, 1989) and Sexuality in Close Relationships (Lawrence Erlbaum, 1991) with Susan Sprecher. She is concerned with the quality of teaching and publishes in Teaching Sociology, and serves as Director of the University Teaching Workshop at ISU, and as a member of the ASA Teaching Resources Group.


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