Saturday, March 14, 2020

People comfortable with closeness who were single or sexually or relationally dissatisfied reported greater sexual nostalgia (fantasies with past partners); chronic sexual nostalgia detracted from satisfaction

Sexual Nostalgia as a Response to Unmet Sexual and Relational Needs: The Role of Attachment Avoidance. Amy Muise et al. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, March 14, 2020.

Abstract: Romantic relationships help people meet needs for connection and emotional and sexual fulfillment. In the current research, we investigate an unexplored response to feeling sexually and relationally unfulfilled: reflecting on positive sexual experiences with past partners (or sexual nostalgia). Across three studies, people low in attachment avoidance (i.e., comfortable with closeness) who were (a) single or (b) sexually or relationally dissatisfied reported greater sexual nostalgia, whereas people high in attachment avoidance (i.e., value autonomy) did not calibrate their feelings of sexual nostalgia based on their current relationship status or satisfaction. Sexual fantasies about past partners (i.e., sexual nostalgia) were distinct from other types of sexual fantasies (Study 1) and the effects could not be attributed to general nostalgia (Study 2) or sexual desire (Study 3). Chronic sexual nostalgia detracted from satisfaction over time. The findings have implications for theories of nostalgia and attachment and for managing unfulfilled needs in relationships.

Keywords: nostalgia, attachment, satisfaction, sexuality, relationships


Given that romantic relationships are difficult to maintain
and that couples often report declines in their desire and satisfaction over time (e.g., McNulty et al., 2016), it is likely
that most people will encounter times in their lives when
they feel they have unfulfilled sexual and relational needs. In
the current research, we explored whether reflecting on or
reminiscing about past sexual partners (which we termed
sexual nostalgia) is one response to having unfulfilled sexual
or relational needs. Study 1 revealed that sexual nostalgia
involves sexual memories or sexual fantasies about a past
partner and provided evidence that fantasies about past partners are distinct from other types of sexual fantasies. In participants’ descriptions of past partner sexual fantasies, the
most commonly reported theme was that people tend to draw
on these fantasies when feeling lonely or dissatisfied in a
current relationship. The data across all three studies converged with this theme from the qualitative data and indicated that when people are single or feeling dissatisfied with
their sex life or relationship, they reported more sexual nostalgia (however, in Study 3, the effects were driven by men).
Also, consistent with past research on general nostalgia and
attachment theory (e.g., Wildschut et al., 2010), people low
in attachment avoidance—those who are comfortable with
closeness—calibrated their feelings of sexual nostalgia based
on their current feelings of fulfillment, whereas those high in
avoidance did not. That is, people low in avoidance reported
greater sexual nostalgia when they were single, or feeling
unfulfilled in their current relationship, but for people high in
avoidance, their feelings of sexual nostalgia did not differ
based on their current fulfillment.

Extending Nostalgia to the Sexual Domain

Previous research has found that nostalgia is often triggered
by negative feelings, such as loneliness and disconnection,
and drawn on as a way to restore positive self-regard and
social connection (Wildschut et al., 2006). We extended past
work on nostalgia to sexuality to test whether sexual nostalgia is heightened in response to low sexual and relational
fulfillment. The current findings do not simply mirror past
work on nostalgia in the sexual domain but indicate that reminiscing about past sexual experiences is a unique way that
people might cope with feeling dissatisfied in their current
relationship or situation. In Study 2, we demonstrated that
sexual nostalgia is distinct from general nostalgia and that
people do not draw on general nostalgia in response to a lack
of fulfillment in their relationship or sex life. The associations with sexual nostalgia for a past partner also seem to be
distinct from reminiscing about an earlier time in the current
relationship—the function, if any, of reflecting on nostalgic
sexual experiences with a current partner is an interesting
avenue for future research.

One reason why nostalgic memories are thought to be powerful for restoring social connection when threatened or lonely is because they affirm that a person is loved and accepted and momentarily make a valuable past experience part of one’s present (Sedikides et al., 2008). Our findings from Study 1 that fantasies about past partners are distinct from other types of sexual fantasies suggest that fantasizing about a past partner might provide something unique when feeling dissatisfied that other sexual fantasies cannot provide. Sexual fantasies in general can serve a compensatory function (e.g., Birnbaum, 2007); women in longer (compared with shorter) marriages are more likely to fantasize about a person other than their spouse (Pelletier & Herold, 1988), which may compensate for lower relationship satisfaction or sexual boredom (Trudel, 2002). Given that fantasies about past partners are based on real experiences, these types of fantasies might have the unique ability to validate one’s sense of their sexual self and their desirability. Past research on general nostalgia has shown that feelings of nostalgia can lead people to connect with their authentic self (Baldwin et al., 2015), and in this sense, sexual nostalgia might lead people to feel sexually authentic. In addition, feelings of disconnection from a specific close other can be tempered by substituting another connection (Baumeister & Leary, 1995), and in the context of romantic and sexual relationships, past partners might be the most appropriate substitute on which to reflect.

Although there is evidence that reflecting on nostalgic
experiences leads to positive self-regard, feelings of love and
protection (Wildschut et al., 2006), and feeling that one’s life
is meaningful (Routledge et al., 2008), nostalgic memories
also give rise to negative emotions. When people wrote
about a nostalgic event (compared with an ordinary event),
the narratives included themes of both happiness and sadness
(Wildschut et al., 2008), although in past experimental studies, evoked nostalgic memories tended to be more positivelyvalanced (Wildschut et al., 2006). Recent work has found
that nostalgic memories that occur naturally in daily life are
associated with mixed emotions but may be more imbued
with negative as opposed to positive feelings (Newman et al.,
2019). People who were more chronically nostalgic reported
lower well-being (Newman et al., 2019). These findings converge with the current findings on sexual nostalgia. In Study
3, people who reported more sexual nostalgia over the course
of the 28-day diary study felt less satisfied with their sex
lives and relationships 3 months later. It is possible that brief
reflection on positive past sexual experiences may help people manage a current lack of fulfillment, but chronically
reflecting on past sexual experiences may detract from their
current relationship. More research is needed to consider the
costs and benefits of sexual nostalgia for feelings of satisfaction and overall well-being Attachment Avoidance and Sexual Nostalgia
The current findings that people low in attachment avoidance calibrate their sexual nostalgia based on their current
feelings of fulfillment or satisfaction, but people high in
avoidance do not, are consistent with past research.
Avoidant people do not tend to seek support from others
when distressed or rejected (e.g., Mikulincer & Shaver,
2008) and often view their partners as unresponsive.
Therefore, avoidant people may not see past partners as
sources of connection and comfort. It was not the case,
however, that avoidant people did not draw on sexual nostalgia. In Studies 1 and 3, people higher (compared with
lower) in avoidance reported higher overall levels of sexual
nostalgia. Avoidant people seem to draw on sexual nostalgia even when they are satisfied in a current relationship,
possibly suggesting a more chronic need to distance themselves from closeness and intimacy in relationship. In fact,
people low in avoidance who were satisfied in their relationship are the people who did not draw on sexually nostalgia, possibly as a cognitive strategy to avoid reflecting
on alternatives to their current relationship.
The attachment system and the sexual system are inextricably linked as romantic partners serve as both attachment figures and sexual partners (Birnbaum, 2010).
Therefore, memories of past sexual partners might provide
both feelings of connection and sexual desirability, especially for people who are low in attachment avoidance.
Securely attached individuals view sex as a way to express
intimacy, feel confident, and fulfill needs for connection
(e.g., Birnbaum, 2016), and as such, memories of past sexual experiences might provide a powerful source to boost
feelings of connection and restore sexual confidence when
feeling unfulfilled. People high in attachment avoidance,
however, do not use sex to achieve emotional intimacy in
relationships and tend to distance themselves from romantic or emotional motives for sex (Birnbaum, 2016). Given
that sexual fantasies can represent attachment-related
wishes, such as avoidant people seeing themselves as less
helpless and intimate in their fantasies (Birnbaum et al.,
2011), people may use fantasies or memories of past partners to meet their attachment-related needs. The current
findings suggest just that when people low in attachment
avoidance feel that their sexual or relational needs are
unmet, they are more likely to reflect on past sexual relationships, possibly to temporarily meet those needs.

Limitations and Future Directions

The current research provides novel insight into one strategy
people use when their sexual and relational needs are unfulfilled, but many questions remain. Although we have evidence across three studies that people low in attachment
avoidance draw on sexual nostalgia when single or dissatisfied, we do not yet know what feelings of sexual nostalgia
provide in the moment. Given that the daily effects in Study 3
were driven by men, it is possible that men might draw on
past experiences in response to daily changes in satisfaction,
whereas women might draw on sexual nostalgia only when
feeling chronically unfulfilled. Related to this, we do not
know the function of sexual nostalgia for people high in
attachment avoidance, who, overall reported higher levels of
sexual nostalgia, and draw on sexual nostalgia even when satisfied. It is also likely that it is healthy for people to be able to
fulfill some emotional and social needs outside of their
romantic relationship (i.e., there might be some limitations to
how we assessed emotional need fulfillment in Study 2), and
if needs are being met in other close relationships, unmet
needs in a current romantic relationship might not trigger nostalgia or might not detract from satisfaction. Future work
might consider when and for whom sexual nostalgia is functional for helping people manage unfulfilled needs and when
sexual nostalgia is harmful for relationships.
Our theoretical predictions suggest that sexual nostalgia
occurs in response to unmet sexual or relational needs, but it
is also possible that sexual nostalgia might lead to feeling
dissatisfied or unfulfilled. When people described sexual
fantasies about past partners in Study 1, one theme that
emerged was that those fantasies could be triggered by visiting a certain place, smelling a type of perfume or cologne, or
hearing a certain song (much like general nostalgic memories). If sexual nostalgia is triggered externally, reflecting on
a past sexual experience might lead to feeling less satisfied in
a current relationship. In Study 3, we have evidence that
chronic sexual nostalgia in a relationship can detract from
satisfaction over time. Past research on general thoughts
about an ex-partner found that declines in satisfaction over
time were linked to longing for an ex-partner but also that
longing for an ex-partner detracted from satisfaction in a current relationship (Spielmann et al., 2012). Therefore, it is
possible that feelings of dissatisfaction might lead to greater
sexual nostalgia, but that more chronic nostalgia also detracts
from satisfaction. Future work might consider the trajectory
of sexual nostalgia and relationship and sexual satisfaction
over time to tease this apart.

Few Greek tragedies fully conform to the humanist commentary on them; modem criticism has projected a Victorian & Protestant high seriousness upon pagan culture that still blankets teaching of the humanities

Few Greek tragedies fully conform to the humanist commentary on them; modem criticism has projected a Victorian and, I feel, Protestant high seriousness upon pagan culture that still blankets teaching of the humanities. Camille Paglia's Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson, 1990.

Few Greek tragedies fully conform to the humanist commentary on them. Their barbaric residue will not come unglued. Even in the fifth century, as we shall see, a satiric response to Apollonianized theater came in Euripides’ decadent plays. Problems in accurate assessment of Greek tragedy include not only the loss of three-quarters of the original body of work but the lack of survival of any complete satyr-play. This was the finale to the classic trilogy, an obscene comic burlesque. In Greek tragedy, comedy always had the last word. Modem criticism has projected a Victorian and, I feel, Protestant high seriousness upon pagan culture that still blankets teaching of the humanities. Paradoxically, assent to savage chthonian realities leads not to gloom but to humor. Hence Sade’s strange laughter, his wit amid the most fantastic cruelties. For life is not a tragedy but a comedy. Comedy is bom of the clash between Apollo and Dionysus. Nature is always pulling the rug out from under our pompous ideals.

Both the Apollonian and Judeo-Christian traditions are transcendental. That is, they seek to surmount or transcend nature. Despite Greek culture’s contrary Dionysian element, which I will discuss, high classicism was an Apollonian achievement. Judaism, Christianity’s parent sect, is the most powerful of protests against nature. The Old Testament asserts that a father god made nature and that differentiation into objects and gender was after the fact of his maleness. Judeo-Christianity, like Greek worship of the Olympian gods, is a sky-cult. It is an advanced stage in the history of religion, which everywhere began as earth-cult, veneration of fruitful nature.

The evolution from earth-cult to sky-cult shifts woman into the nether realm. Her mysterious procreative powers and the resemblance of her rounded breasts, belly, and hips to earth’s contours put her at the center of early symbolism. She was the model for the Great Mother figures who crowded the birth of religion worldwide. But the mother cults did not mean social freedom for women. On the contrary [...] cult-objects are prisoners of their own symbolic inflation. [...]

Woman was an idol of belly-magic. She seemed to swell and give birth by her own law. From the beginning of time, woman has seemed an uncanny being. Man honored but feared her. She was the black maw that had spat him forth and would devour him anew. Men, bonding together, invented culture as a defense against female nature. Sky-cult was the most sophisticated step in this process, for its switch of the creative locus from earth to sky is a shift from belly-magic to head-magic. And from this defensive head-magic has come the spectacular glory of male civilization, which has lifted woman with it. The very language and logic modem woman uses to assail patriarchal culture were the invention of men.

Hence the sexes are caught in a comedy of historical indebtedness. Man, repelled by his debt to a physical mother, created an alternate reality, a heterocosm to give him the illusion of freedom. Woman, at first content to accept man’s protections but now inflamed with desire for her own illusory freedom, invades man’s systems and suppresses her indebtedness to him as she steals them. By head-magic she will deny there ever was a problem of sex and nature. She has inherited the anxiety of influence.

Sex therapies believe guiltless, no-fault sex is possible, but sex is the point of contact between man and nature, where morality and good intentions fall to primitive urges

Behaviorist sex therapies believe guiltless, no-fault sex is possible, but sex is the point of contact between man and nature, where morality and good intentions fall to primitive urges. Camille Paglia's Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson, 1990.

[...] Behaviorist sex therapies believe guiltless, no-fault sex is possible. But sex has always been girt round with taboo, irrespective of culture. Sex is the point of contact between man and nature, where morality and good intentions fall to primitive urges. [...] Eroticism is a realm stalked by ghosts. It is the place beyond the pale, both cursed and enchanted.

[...] much in culture goes against our best wishes. Integration of man's body and mind is a profound problem that is not about to be solved by recreational sex or an expansion of women's civil rights. Incarnation, the limitation of mind by matter, is an outrage to imagination. Equally outrations is gender, which we have not chosen but which nature has imposed upon us. Our physicality is torment [...].

The ghost-ridden character of sex is implicit in Freud’s brilliant theory of “family romance.” We each have an incestuous constellation of sexual personae that we carry from childhood to the grave and that determines whom and how we love or hate. Every encounter with friend or foe, every clash with or submission to authority bears the perverse traces of family romance. Love is a crowded theater, for as Harold Bloom remarks, “We can never embrace (sexually or otherwise) a single person, but embrace the whole of her or his family romance.” 1 We still [this was written in 1990] know next to nothing of the mystery of cathexis, the investment of libido in certain people or things. The element of free will in sex and emotion is slight. As poets know, falling in love is irrational.

Like art, sex is fraught with symbols. Family romance means that adult sex is always representation, ritualistic acting out of vanished realities. A perfectly humane eroticism may be impossible. Somewhere in every family romance is hostility and aggression, the homicidal wishes of the unconscious. Children are monsters of unbridled egotism and will, for they spring directly from nature, hostile intimations of immorality. We carry that daemonic will within us forever. Most people conceal it with acquired ethical precepts and meet it only in their dreams, which they hastily forget upon waking. The will-to-power is innate, but the sexual scripts of family romance are learned. Human beings are the only creatures in whom consciousness is so entangled with animal instinct. In western culture, there can never be a purely physical or anxiety-free sexual encounter. Every attraction, every pattern of touch, every orgasm is shaped by psychic shadows.

Lonely, Poor, and Ugly? How Cultural Practices and Forms of Capital Relate to Physical Unattractiveness

Lonely, Poor, and Ugly? How Cultural Practices and Forms of Capital Relate to Physical Unattractiveness. Christian Schneickert, Leonie C. Steckermeier, Lisa-Marie Brand. Cultural Sociology, March 10, 2020.

Abstract: Physical attractiveness is increasingly framed as a meritocratic good that involves individual benefits, such as higher wages or success in the partner market. Investing in one’s physical appearance is thereby seen as a means to increase one’s human capital. While the positive effects are well documented, its counterpart, the dark side of physical appearance, has received much less attention from social science research. This article sheds light on the negative effects of physical appearance using a theoretical framework based on the cultural sociology of Bourdieu, integrating both structure and agency perspectives. Using data from the German General Social Survey (ALLBUS) from 2014, we demonstrate that unattractiveness is socially stratified by economic, cultural, and social capital. The article highlights the relevance of cultural factors (e.g. forms of cultural capital and cultural practices) for the analysis of the interplay between physical appearance and stratification as well as the relevance of physical appearance for cultural sociology.

Keywords Attractiveness, habitus, cultural capital, cultural practices, economic capital, social capital

Check also Unattractive people are unaware of their (un)attractiveness. Tobias Greitemeyer. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, March 11 2020.

This article has investigated the relations between forms of capital, cultural practices and the perception of physical appearance. From a critical discussion of some recent approaches in this area of research, we developed a theoretical framework for the analysis of unattractiveness based on the cultural sociology of Pierre Bourdieu. Three aspects stand out from this perspective:
  • (1) We focus on the “dark side of physical appearance” by analysing the possible social penalties of unattractiveness.
  • (2) The majority of the research in this area focused on the effects of physical appearance on stratification. Recently, studies have focused on agency and the effects of stratification on physical appearance as well. We integrate both perspectives within our theoretical framework and investigate both directions empirically.
  • (3) Finally, we highlight the role of cultural factors, especially cultural capital and cultural practices, in the analysis of physical appearance.
Our study shows that physical appearance is linked to social stratification. Regarding unattractiveness as a dependent variable, all forms of capital (but especially institutionalised and objectified cultural capital) significantly decrease unattractiveness. The cultural practices of highbrow cultural participation (reading, theater, opera), physical activities, and (surprisingly) drinking alcohol decrease unattractiveness, while smoking has negative effects on one’s physical appearance. These effects are stable even when controlling for many socio-demographic variables and other forms of capital. Beyond these effects, being single or separated is associated with being less attractive.
Regarding the forms of capital as dependent variables, unattractiveness decreases the accumulation of all forms of capital. The effects are stable and significant independently of socio-demographic characteristics and cultural practices. Taken together, we find clear associations between physical appearance and forms of capital (and vice versa). While previous studies have largely focused on the effects of attractiveness on economic capital (“not being poor”), social capital or the partner market (“not being lonely”), the relation between cultural factors and physical appearance has received less attention. Our study shows that forms of cultural capital and cultural practices should be included in the analysis of physical appearance and that physical appearance should receive more attention in cultural sociology.
It seems that the evaluation of one’s physical appearance must be conceptualised within a broader system of cultural classifications. Therefore, cultural sociology should further elaborate on the role of physical appearance in cultural spheres, especially focusing on cross-cultural differences in the nexus of unattractiveness, cultural capital and stratification.

A large number of observers were completely unaware of drastic color manipulations (hue rotation, desaturation) of the images shown to them; much of our experience of a colorful world seems to be a confabulation

Cohen, Michael, and Jordan Rubenstein. 2019. “How Much Color Do We See in the Blink of an Eye?.” PsyArXiv. July 28. doi:10.31234/

Abstract: Visual experience is painted in color. A change in hue or saturation can dramatically alter our understanding of a scene and how we feel about it. Subjectively, color does not feel like an optional dimension to be extracted only when necessary, but an automatically represented property of our entire visual field. Here, we ask whether that subjective impression is true. Using a variant of an inattentional blindness paradigm, we showed observers snapshots of colorful scenes when unbeknownst to them, an image was presented that was either desaturated or hue rotated across an overwhelming majority of the images. Although observers fixated on these images long enough to identify and describe them, a large number of observers were completely unaware of these drastic color manipulations. These findings suggest that much of our experience of a colorful world may be a confabulation.

Women's use of intimate apparel as subtle sexual signals in committed, het. relationships: Women report wearing sexier underwear the day taking the survey if they anticipate sexual activity that same day

Women's use of intimate apparel as subtle sexual signals in committed, heterosexual relationships. Lyndsey K. Craig ,Peter B. Gray. March 13, 2020.

Abstract: Current literature on women’s sexual signaling focuses on modes of attracting potential, new sexual partners, but says little about women’s subtle sexual signals in committed, romantic relationships. Subtle sexual signals are inherently private and are only visible to the intended audience; a woman might use these signals to elicit or accept a sexual response from her partner or to increase her overall attractiveness, or attractivity. In this study, we sought to identify women’s use of intimate apparel as a proceptive or receptive behavior as well as the effects of relative mate value, relationship commitment, relationship satisfaction, and sexual functioning. A total of N = 353 women in the United States aged 25–45 who were in committed, heterosexual relationships completed the survey; 88.7%
 of the sample indicated wearing or having worn sexy underwear. Results indicate that women report wearing sexier underwear the day taking the survey if they anticipate sexual activity that same day. However, during the most recent sexual activity, women did not report wearing sexier underwear if they initiated (proceptive) that activity. While relative mate value was not directly related to sexiness of intimate apparel, women who report higher mate value tend to wear sexier underwear. Women’s use of intimate apparel might be viewed as a method of increasing attractivity and underlying receptivity to aid relationship maintenance, though caveats regarding measures and alternative interpretations are also discussed. Findings suggest that these women use intimate apparel to feel sexy, desired, aroused, and to prepare for sex with their partners. This study is the first to examine intimate apparel in relationships and as a subtle sexual signal of proceptivity and receptivity.


The purpose of this study was to identify women’s use of intimate apparel as a subtle sexual signal of proceptivity and receptivity in heterosexual romantic relationships; however, our findings suggest intimate apparel might serve another purpose for the women in this study. We predicted that women would wear sexier underwear when they expected to be sexually active and when initiating sexual activity. Women in this study did indeed report wearing sexier underwear when intending to be sexually active later that day, but women’s use of intimate apparel did not significantly contribute to sexual initiation. We also predicted that if a woman’s perceived mate value was relatively lower than her partner’s, she would be more likely to use intimate apparel to signal her proceptivity and receptivity. Conversely, we found that when a woman’s relative mate value was similar to or higher than–but not less than–her partner’s mate value, she reported wearing sexier underwear across all three contexts.
Further analyses into MVD found that women in relationships with men of higher mate value than themselves, and relatively high independent mate values, felt more overall satisfied and committed to the relationship; but her partner’s relative mate value did not influence her sexual experiences. Additionally, a woman’s independent mate value predicted the sexiness of her underwear despite her commitment, satisfaction, and perception of her partner’s mate value. Based on relative mate value, women might use intimate apparel when they feel more confident about themselves and their sexuality rather than as a signal of proceptivity and receptivity to their partner. So, why do women use intimate apparel if not for sexual signaling?
The number one reason women in this study reported wearing sexy underwear was “to feel sexy,” which is consistent with other findings on intimate apparel [4243]. Use of intimate apparel might also act as a form of self-arousal: a thorough review of women’s sexual desire by Meana [55] suggests that women want to feel sexually desired. Although a main factor in the decline of sexual desire and overall functioning for women is the presence of children and increased roles and responsibilities [5658], the current study found that women’s parental status, employment status, income, and age were not predictors for the use of intimate apparel. We found the best predictors for women’s use of intimate apparel during their most sexual encounter to be relative mate value, relationship commitment, and relationship satisfaction. Other reasons reported for wearing intimate apparel were as a gift for their partner (M = 5.24, SD = 1.71) or on special occasions (M = 5.41, SD = 1.39). Furthermore, Pearson correlation analysis showed women who wore sexier underwear reported greater sexual desire (r = .218, p < .001) within the last four weeks and greater sexual desire (r = .271, p < .001), arousal (r = .291, p < .001), and satisfaction (r = .204, p < .001) during their most recent sexual encounter. Because there is a decline in sexual desire with relationship duration [5759], these women might be using intimate apparel to increase their own sexual desire, thus enhancing sexual encounters with their romantic partner [60] and maintaining the relationship they are committed to. Taken together, these results suggest women might use intimate apparel to increase their attractivity, which reflects a background signal of availability to romantic partners.

Limitations and future research

This study is subject to limitations. These data worked under the assumption that the respondents had only one romantic partner; extra pair partners could potentially influence how women use intimate apparel in their daily lives as well as within their committed relationships. Results were also not adjusted for time-of-day or cycle phase. A methodological limitation to this study is that participants were not asked the duration of their relationship, so use of intimate apparel across time could not be measured. Schmiedeberg and Shroder [61] found that sexual satisfaction peaks in the second half of the first year of a relationship and then declines over time. As the relationship progresses, the couple becomes more acquainted with one another and experience mutual life stressors; the couple transitions into the companionate phase, characterized by a state of comfort and commonality [62]. However, Frederick, Lever, Gillespie and Garcia [60] found that passion in romantic relationships can be maintained by enhancing the quality of the sexual encounters with sensual touch and “I love you” statements, so use of intimate apparel might also serve to maintain passion.

Another methodological limitation was the measure for initiation (mentioned in the Results), which was one item asking, “Did you or your partner initiate your most recent sexual encounter?” without a clear definition of initiate. A more specific measure of MVD beyond self and partner desirability would provide greater insight into individuals’ perceptions of themselves and their partners. Because this study focused on heterosexual women, future studies should examine how lesbian women use intimate apparel in their short- and long-term romantic relationships. Finally, this study does not provide support for intimate apparel as a form of proceptivity; future research might ask more probing question about sexual activities, specifically in open-ended interviews.

These findings might also have clinical significance in that women’s use of intimate apparel could reflect women’s body image. In a comprehensive review on women’s body image and sexual functioning, Woetman and ban den Brink [58] found a positive relationship between body image and sexual desire overall. They also found that women’s sexual arousal and satisfaction can be negatively affected by self-inspection and -evaluation during sexual activity. Another study on body image and romantic relationships found that body appreciation was positively associated with relationship quality as well as sexual satisfaction [63]. Because women in this study who reported higher mate value were more likely to wear sexier underwear, body image might play a role in women’s choice of intimate apparel and overall impact relationship and sexual satisfaction. Women who have lower body image might not have the confidence to wear sexier underwear, which could itself negatively affect her sexual desire and arousal. Future research into effects of body image should incorporate women’s use of intimate apparel as well as mate value to better understand these associations.