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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

237 Reasons to Have Sex—Some Good, Some Not So Good

posted by on July 31 at 8:12 AM


Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin—keepin’ it weird—asked 2,000 people why they’d had sex. Not how they had sex, not in what position, not for how long, not with whom, but simply why. They found that the reasons people gave fell into roughly 237 categories. The survey offered 237 possible reasons. First on the list? It was the heat of the moment. Here’s the rest of the top first ten…

It just happened.
I was bored.
It seemed like the thing to do.
Someone dared me.
I desired emotional closeness.
I wanted to feel closer to God.
I wanted to gain acceptance.
It’s exciting, adventurous.
I wanted to make up after a fight.

Some other possible reasons people mentioned according to the University of Texas’s survey: “I was under the influence of drugs or alcohol” (12); “My partner kept insisting” (22); “I was tired of being a virgin” (31); “I didn’t know how to say ‘no’” (47); “I was slumming” (69); “I wanted to be used or degraded” (128); “I wanted to get a raise” (155).

In news that will distress Catholic prelates and the sex-is-only-for-making-babies crowd, “I wanted to have a child” came in 27th was the 27th possible reason on the survey’s list—after “I felt I owed it to the person” (17), “I wanted to make up after a fight” (10), and “The person was famous and I wanted to be able to say I had sex with him/her” (23).

The list is fascinating and, at times, depressing reading. (“I was physically forced to” is 24th on the list.) You can download the entire list by clicking here. And if you think the UT researchers left anything off, feel free to add your reasons to the comments thread.

UPDATE: D’oh, I’m an idiot. I read this story wrong at first. The highest ranking answer for both men and women was: “I was attracted to the person.” But all those possible answers (“I was bored,” “Someone dared me,” “I wanted to be used or degraded”) weren’t just made up by researchers; they were answers given by the initial 400 people asked to give their reasons for having sex.

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I was just hopelessly aroused by watching interviews with Dick Cheney and Alberto Gonzales. I get moist just thinking about those studs.

Posted by Coitus Stupidus | July 31, 2007 8:47 AM

I wanted to play with a penis.

Posted by Mr. Poe | July 31, 2007 8:51 AM

And looking at the results next to each other, how fucked up is it that slightly more people were raped than were actually trying to have babies.

Though given how close the numbers are, I wonder: does that mean that if you were to take the number of kids conceived on a particular day, subtract from that number the number of forcible rapes carried out on that day, would you get the number of accidental conceptions? Conversely, if you subtracted the number of accidental conceptions from the total birth rate, would the result be somewhere in the vicinity of the number of forcible rapes?

Wow. I'd make a terrible statistician.

Posted by Judah | July 31, 2007 8:57 AM

160. I wanted to change the topic of conversation.


Posted by Jessica | July 31, 2007 9:05 AM

169. I wanted to give someone else a sexually transmitted disease (e.g., herpes, AIDS).

I'm never having sex again.

Posted by Carollani | July 31, 2007 9:16 AM

I wanted a job at the Stranger and showing my calves wasn't enough.

Posted by reason 229 | July 31, 2007 9:16 AM

The list you posted is just the possible responses the survey offered, not how frequently people answered with that response. The real number one response was “I was attracted to the person.” Others in the top included completely reasonable responses like, "I wanted to express my love for the person,” “I was sexually aroused and wanted the release” and “It’s fun.” Next time read more than half the story you link to.

Posted by Joselito | July 31, 2007 9:18 AM

"I wanted to be closer to Satan"

Posted by Cato the Younger Younger | July 31, 2007 9:18 AM

Dan, from my understanding, the list you gave was just the top 10 reasons listed on the survey - presumably random. If you look at the actual study, a PDF file linked to the NYT article, you can see the actual top reasons given by men and by women. It is quite different from the list you gave, and makes a lot more sense, e.g. #1 for both genders is "I was attracted to the person"

Posted by Jude Fawley | July 31, 2007 9:19 AM

Doh. I'm an idiot.

Posted by Dan Savage | July 31, 2007 9:25 AM

I couldn't get free of the restraints.

Posted by B.D. | July 31, 2007 9:27 AM

P.S. The real list is also a lot less depressing - #24 for men is "It just happened" and for women it is "The person carressed me" (Awww!) Best revise your post - in the end, people seem to mostly have sex because they like each other and it feels good.

(The actual study has a lot of interesting info, e.g. 50 Most infrequent reasons - "I wanted to defy my parents" - its nice to see that many bad reasons are at the bottom of the list.

Also, tope gender differences: #3 "I wanted to relieve blue-balls" - apparantly a lot more men than women said this!)

Posted by Jude Fawley | July 31, 2007 9:27 AM

“I wanted to get a raise” (155).

Um... wow.

Posted by lilblackcat | July 31, 2007 10:15 AM

gender differences about sex?
There are none.
The genders are absolutely the same and 100% equal with respect to sex, reasons for sex, attitudes towards sex. Don't say anything to the contrary, that would be verboten.

Posted by unPC | July 31, 2007 10:18 AM

It was a Tuesday.

Tuesday's always sex-day.

Posted by NapoleonXIV | July 31, 2007 10:28 AM

I wanted to have a fist up my ass.

Posted by Cato the Younger Younger | July 31, 2007 11:46 AM

@Mr. Poe #2: Only 1? ;)

Posted by Original Monique | July 31, 2007 12:32 PM

I should point out that this study is of college students at the University of Texas, which means it's unlikely to be representative of the nation as a whole, unless you're a UTA grad.

Posted by Will in Seattle | July 31, 2007 2:24 PM

"I was overcome by lust upon seeing him in the furry costume."

or, we have the Republican politician's response, "It made me hot to soil my diaper and pay her to change it."

I just grossed myself out.

Posted by Geni | July 31, 2007 2:50 PM

Napoleon @15

Nah, Wednesday is sex day. You never heard of getting "over the hump"?

Posted by Dave | July 31, 2007 2:53 PM

"Rent was almost due."

Posted by fnc | July 31, 2007 7:08 PM

"unless you're a UTA grad."

UTA is the University of Texas at Arlington, UT Austin is... UT Austin, or just UT if no Tennessee Vols are standing nearby.

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