The Link Between Personality and Sexual Behavior
From the shy and introverted Otis to the confident and outgoing Maeve, Netflix’s show Sex Education illustrates the diverse range of personalities and how they influence your sexuality. The same goes for you, too! Whether you’re an anxious over-thinker, a cheerful extrovert, or a calm empath, your personality traits may influence what happens in the bedroom. Is there a link between your character and how much you enjoy sex? Is personality linked to being kinky? Are some people more likely to cheat than others? Let’s dive into the ways that the Big Five Personality Traits – neuroticism, agreeableness, openness to experience, extraversion and conscientiousness – can impact your sexual desires and behaviors. Keep reading and find out!
But I Can’t Relax and “Enjoy It”!
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), if you’re often stressed, constantly overthinking, and getting worked up over the smallest things, it’s possible that you have a high level of neuroticism. According to a 2022 research study published in the Western Journal of Communication, people with this trait may struggle with sexual communication and may feel insecure in the bedroom. “Do they think I’m sexy?” “Oh, wow. This outfit makes me look awful. Why would they like me?” “Ugh… I just shouldn’t even try.” This level of overthinking can lead to overreacting to criticism or negative feedback from your partner which can cause tension in the relationship, but it doesn’t stop there.
Those with the neurotic personality trait may also feel neglected or rejected by their partner, leading to insecurities and doubts about the relationship, even when no rejection is present. According to a 2022 study published in Journal of Population Economics, these feelings of rejection may even drive them to seek comfort with someone else. In simpler terms, they might be more prone to cheating on their partner due to ideas they’ve created through overthinking not what their partner has shown.
This doesn’t mean you or your partner are sure to cheat. Traits and behaviors can be worked on and improved upon with self-reflection and communication with your partner.
Agreeableness, defined by APA, means being cooperative and unselfish. Basically, if you have this trait, you’re nice to be around as a friend or a sexual partner! The same study that investigated cheating and neuroticism suggests that being an agreeable person can make you prioritize your partner’s desires over your own. Just think back to Friends With Benefits with Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake. While getting to know each other’s sexual style Mila’s character, Jamie finds out that Justin’s character, Dylan, wears socks during sex. A bit odd, right? At first, she laughs at it, but she wants him to be comfortable and gets cool with it. What about you and your partner? Are they more comfortable with the lights off? You got it! They want to try out something more exciting? You’re all up for it! The only downside that the study found is that by being agreeable and likely to compromise, you may sometimes sacrifice your own needs, which could potentially lead to lower sexual satisfaction. To avoid this, don’t be afraid to speak up and express your desires. You deserve to have some fun, too! Remember: We want to compromise, not people-please.
Like we said in the previous point, there are some personality traits that make you open to doing something for your partner out of love. Then there are other traits that make you a bit more of a daredevil. Being open to new experiences can really come in handy in the bedroom. In general, this trait is what makes you open minded, adventurous, curious, and creative. In the sexual sphere, it can mean you’re a little kinky, too! Because of your expansive view of the world and a greater tolerance for diversity, you may be more accepting of different types of sexual expression or exploring new fantasies with your partner. In 2013, a study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine compared BDSM practitioners to a control group and found that those who practiced BDSM scored higher in openness to experience than the control group. According to licensed sex therapist Dr. Michael Aaron, this makes sense as openness to experience is often associated with a willingness to experiment with unconventional behaviors. He believes that “…people who are drawn to alternative sexuality communities tend to be open-minded, exploratory, and adventurous – all traits that are captured by openness to experience.”
Extroverts are easy to pick out in real life. They’re the social butterflies or the people who are happy on a stage. A study which was a part of the International Sexuality Description Project led in 2008 found that extroverts aren’t shy about their desires! They don’t fear expressing their sexuality and often like to engage in sexual behaviors. In that study, more than 13,000 participants from 46 nations responded to self-report measures of personality and sexuality. After reviewing the responses, they found that people who scored high in extraversion were more likely to be interested in casual hook-ups and one night stands. On top of that, they were more open to the idea of dating multiple people at the same time without feeling the need to be monogamous.
Again, just because you’re extraverted, it doesn’t mean you’re not monogamous, but, if you’re feeling bold and adventurous between the sheets, it might just be your extraverted nature shining through.
Hard Work Pays Off
As APA defines it, conscientiousness is all about being organized, reliable, and responsible. If you’re high in conscientiousness, you might be the type of person who always has a plan and follows through on your commitments. If you’re a conscientious lover, your sexual satisfaction might be off the charts! A 2018 study published in the Journal of Sex Research took a closer look at the Big Five personality traits and tested how they relate to sexual functioning in couples. Conscientiousness was the only trait that had a significant effect on both men and women’s sexual function. Men high in conscientiousness reported fewer issues with erectile dysfunction, while women high in conscientiousness experienced fewer problems with desire, arousal, orgasm, and even less pain during sex. Researchers believe that “…conscientious partners may respond to sexual problems with an integrating
conflict resolution strategy.” This means that instead of using an unhealthy coping or communication strategy like giving the silent treatment, projecting, or running away from the problem, they show concern for their relationship and talk it out which helps their sexual relationships.
Your personalities drive how we act in every aspect of your life, even your sex life. Do you have any of these personality traits? Or maybe you see some of these traits and behaviors in your current and ex partners? Are there other personality traits we should cover? Let us know in the comments below! And please remember – these findings are just the tip of the iceberg. Personality and sexuality are both deep and complex, and their relationship doesn’t have to be definite. After all, for a good and satisfying sex life, it’s not so much about personality tests. It’s about what works for you and your partner. Thanks for reading, and we’ll see ya next time!
Aaron, M. (2017, June 19). The intersection between personality and sexuality. Dr Michael Aaron. https://www.drmichaelaaronnyc.com/intersection-personality-sexuality/
APA Dictionary of Psychology. (n.d.-a.). Retrieved January 22, 2023, from https://dictionary.apa.org/neuroticism
APA Dictionary of Psychology. (n.d.-b). Retrieved January 22, 2023, from https://dictionary.apa.org/conscientiousness
APA Dictionary of Psychology. (n.d.-c). Retrieved January 22, 2023, from https://dictionary.apa.org/agreeableness
Jirjahn, & Ottenbacher. (2022). Big Five personality traits and sex. Journal of Population Economics, 1–32. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00148-022-00893-2
Harris, S., Evans, G., Johnson, E., & Kluge, B. L. (2022). Sex and personality: The mediating role of communication in personality’s relationship with sexual satisfaction. Western Journal of Communication, 86(3), 361–378. https://doi.org/10.1080/10570314.2022.2074089
Schmitt, D. P., & Shackelford, T. K. (2008). Big five traits related to short-term mating: From personality to promiscuity across 46 nations. Evolutionary Psychology, 6(2), 147470490800600. https://doi.org/10.1177/147470490800600204
Velten, J., Brailovskaia, J., & Margraf, J. (2018). Exploring the impact of personal and partner traits on sexuality: Sexual excitation, sexual inhibition, and big five predict sexual function in couples. The Journal of Sex Research, 56(3), 287–299. https://doi.org/10.1080/00224499.2018.1491521
Wismeijer, A. A. J., & van Assen, M. A. L. M. (2013). Psychological characteristics of BDSM practitioners. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 10(8), 1943–1952. https://doi.org/10.1111/jsm.12192