What fuels sexual desire? A new study reveals eye-opening findings about our expectations in bed

Nope, orgasms are not the most sought-after result

Men and woman holding hands during sex
(Image credit: Image credit: Getty Images)

Sexual desire is far more complicated than it might seem. Our motivation between the sheets extends beyond orgasms, but what makes us seek out intimacy in the first place? 

According to a new study in the The Journal of Sex Research (opens in new tab), Gen Y and Z—particularly those ages 18 to 27—have certain expectations upon a sexual encounter. Although it seems everyone is anxious to hit those pleasure points, there's something that outshines big O. (Believe it!)



Sexual desire and our expectations

Dr. Shari Blumenstock conducted a college campus sample and an online community-based sample of roughly 300 participants each to uncover what fuels the desire for sex. 

Emotional closeness was the strongest predictor for men and women's sexual desire. Expectations for orgasm are not as significant, which is a relief for those who are feeling a bit stressed about sex

However, it's certainly interesting that nearly half the men in both samples expected to orgasm whereas only 4.8% of college women and 23.8% of online women expected to reach peak satisfaction during a romantic encounter.

The takeaway

Talking about sex could be the key for both parties to experience exactly what they're looking for—closeness, intimacy, orgasms and all. 

While it's comforting to know that both sexes are more interested in the connection than the act itself, women should not feel as though they're not entitled to an orgasm. In order to up those statics found in the study, we suggest women should be frank about their needs and embark on some solo exploration. After all, self love is the reason for women's most intense orgasms.  

All in all, we might have plenty of thoughts about the deed, how long should sex last, what we should feel and what the end result should be. However, the most important thing to remember is to do what works well for you and your partner.

Danielle is a writer for woman&home and My Imperfect Life, covering all-things news, lifestyle and entertainment. 


The heart of her time at Future has been devoted to My Imperfect Life, where she's been attuned to the cosmos and honed in on astrology coverage within the Life vertical. She's partial to writing pieces about the next big TV obsession—anyone else impatiently waiting for "Conversations with Friends"—and keeping you up to date on new trends like the latest must-have from Zara. 


Before her time at Future, Danielle was the editor of Time Out New York Kids and a news editor at Elite Daily. Her work has also appeared in Domino, Chowhound, amNewYork and Newsday, among other outlets. 


When Danielle is not working, you can usually find her reading a new book, coffee at hand, or attempting a new recipe. (Recommendations always welcome!)