Anxiously attached men tend to have a steeper drop in their sexual desire over the course of a relationship, according to new psychology research
The study, When Insecurity Dampens Desire: Attachment Anxiety in Men Amplifies the Decline in Sexual Desire during the Early Years of Romantic Relationships“ published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, examined how attachment styles influenced sexual desire during the “honeymoon” phase of a romantic relationship. People with an “anxious” attachment style are fearful of rejection and abandonment, while people with an “avoidant” attachment style tend not to trust others and down play closeness.
Researchers surveyed 62 newly dating couples over an 8 month period and 175 newlywed couples over an 18 month period.
As expected, sexual desire decreased over time in both men and women overall. But this decline in desire was significantly impacted by attachment anxiety in men.
Men who agreed with statements like “I worry that romantic partners would not care about me as much as I care about them” showed significantly steeper drops in their sexual desire over time. Men with low levels of attachment anxiety, on the other hand, did not see a decline in their sexual desire.
“To me, the most interesting finding was that desire did not drop in men who were characterized by low attachment anxiety. In contrast, desire dropped significantly over time in women and in anxious men,” Moran Mizrahi, the corresponding author of the study and lecturer at the Ariel University Center of Samaria told PsyPost.
“Therefore, desire seems to be more fragile when it is fueled by relational expectations rather than pleasure-centered urges (as in the case of secure men). It suggests that desire declines more rapidly when people are preoccupied with their relationship and that it is not necessarily doomed to wane over time.”
But it is still unclear what exactly is driving anxious men’s decline in sexual desire.
“The specific mechanism that explains why anxious men may be more prone than others to an erosion in desiring their partner is still left to be determined. Possible candidates may be worries about sexual competence, high perceived demands of sexual interactions, and lack of psychological differentiation from a romantic partner,” Mizrahi explained.