What Theories and Methods From Relationship Research Can Contribute to Sex Research
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Sexual and relationship satisfaction tend to be closely linked in the context of romantic relationships. Understanding how sexual processes influence relationships and how aspects of the relationship influence a couple's sex life can provide insight into the maintenance of sexual desire and satisfaction over time. In this article, we review how theories and methods that form the foundation for relationship research have made-and will continue to make-sexuality research a stronger, more theoretical, and methodologically sophisticated science. We discuss the key theories that have been used to advance our understanding of who is more likely to be sexually satisfied in relationships, when sex is most satisfying, and how couples can have more satisfying sex lives and relationships. We then provide an overview of dyadic and repeated-measures designs and demonstrate how the use of these types of research methods allows relationship and sexuality researchers to answer novel and nuanced questions about how romantic partners influence each other, as well as how sexual processes unfold in couples' daily lives and over time. Throughout the review, we highlight what we see as fruitful directions for future research at the intersection of sexuality and relationships.
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