Sex is a defining feature of romantic relationships. From an evolutionary perspective, sex is essential for reproduction. Without it, the human species would die off. But some researchers have proposed that sex has a secondary function in humans and other animals whose offspring benefit from the presence of both parents—sex facilitates pair bonding and thus functions to keep couples happily together over time.
Is sex only pleasurable if we experience an orgasm, or can people still enjoy sex in the absence of an orgasm? Popular media often presents an orgasm as the ultimate goal of sex and the defining feature of a satisfying sexual experience, yet in reality, many women have difficulties orgasming consistently (or at all) during sex. This discrepancy might suggest that many women are not satisfied with their sexual experiences, but it could also suggest that other aspects of sex are pleasurable above and beyond “the big O.”
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Romantic couples often find themselves in situations in which partners have discrepant levels of sexual desire, and research shows that conflicts of interest about sex predict negative relationship outcomes and are among the most difficult types of relationship issues to resolve.