A new American study, said to be the first of its kind but seemingly obvious in its results, has found that most gay men aren’t in relationships just for sex but also for love!
US researchers at George Mason University’s Department of Global and Community Health and Indiana University’s Center for Sexual Health Promotion sought to answer the question: What does love have to do with sex? And, in particular, among gay and bisexual men?
While most research about love has been conducted among heterosexual-identified individuals or opposite sex couples, the focus of this study on same-sex couples suggests that experiences of love are far more similar than different, regardless of sexual orientation, said the researchers.
Published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, the Special Section: Sexual Health in Gay and Bisexual Couples study, found that nearly all (92.6 percent) men surveyed whose most recent sexual encounter occurred with a relationship partner, indicated being in love with the partner at the time they had sex.
This is apparently the first time a study has explored sexual behaviors by men who report being in love, or not, during a given sexual event with a same-sex partner.
The study also found that nearly all men in the study, 91.2 percent, were “matched” by their partners when it came to their feelings of love and their perceptions of their partner’s feelings of love.
Also unsurprising, this confidence in being in love was more common among older men, with a greater proportion of young men reporting they were unsure if they loved their sexual partner or if their sexual partner loved them.
Men in love with their partners were also significantly more likely to say that the sex was extremely or quite a bit pleasurable, compared to sex in which the participant were not in love.
While these results may seem obvious to many of us, Debby Herbenick, a research scientist at Indiana University and one of the study co-authors, explained that, “This study is important because of myths and misunderstandings that separate men from love, even though the capacity to love and to want to be loved in return is a human capacity and is not limited by gender or sexual orientation.”
Joshua G. Rosenberger, lead investigator and a professor at George Mason’s College of Health and Human Services, added: “Given the recent political shifts around the Defense of Marriage Act and same-sex marriage in the United States, these findings highlight the prevalence and value of loving feelings within same same-sex relationships.
“Given the extent to which so much research is focused on the negative aspects of sexual behavior among gay men, particularly as it relates to HIV infection, we were interested in exploring the role of positive affect — in this case, love — during a specific sexual event,” said Rosenberger.