Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 40, Issue 1, pp 99–110 | Cite as

Relationship Contingency and Sexual Motivation in Women: Implications for Sexual Satisfaction

  • Diana T. Sanchez
  • Corinne A. Moss-Racusin
  • Julie E. Phelan
  • Jennifer Crocker
Original Paper


Deriving self-worth from romantic relationships (relationship contingency) may have implications for women’s sexual motives in relationships. Because relationship contingency enhances motivation to sustain relationships to maintain positive self-worth, relationship contingent women may engage in sex to maintain and enhance their relationships (relational sex motives). Using structural equation modeling on Internet survey data from a convenience sample of 462 women in heterosexual and lesbian relationships, we found that greater relationship contingency predicted greater relational sex motives, which simultaneously predicted both sexual satisfaction and dissatisfaction via two distinct motivational states. Having sex to improve intimacy with one’s partner was associated with greater sexual satisfaction and autonomy, while having sex to earn partner’s approval was associated with sexual dissatisfaction and inhibition. While some differences exist between lesbian and heterosexual relationships, relationship contingency had sexual costs and benefits, regardless of relationship type.


Romantic relationships Sexual motivation Sexual satisfaction Lesbian relationships Contingencies of self-worth 



During the preparation of this article, Ms. Moss-Racusin was supported by a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and Ms. Phelan was supported by a Jacob Javits Fellowship.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Diana T. Sanchez
    • 1
    • 3
  • Corinne A. Moss-Racusin
    • 1
  • Julie E. Phelan
    • 1
  • Jennifer Crocker
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyRutgers UniversityNew BrunswickUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyRutgers UniversityPiscatawayUSA

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