Emotional Intelligence and Better Sex (For Women)

I recently ran across a 2009 article in the Journal Of Sexual Medicine called Emotional Intelligence and Its Association with Orgasmic Frequency in Women and it’s pretty fascinating.

Emotional Intelligence is the ability to identify, assess, and work with emotions. You could also think of it as the ability to control one’s emotions and influence other people’s feelings, although I prefer to think of it as “working with” rather than controlling them. In my experience, we don’t control our emotions as much as decide how we want to respond to them. EI is a really useful skill, although there are some criticisms of the tools used to measure it.

In any case, I think it’s pretty easy to see how EI can help us in our relationships. The more we can attune to our feelings and communicate about them with our friends, families, lovers, and partners and the more gracefully we can receive information from them and respond to it, the smoother things are. But I’d never thought to wonder what effects EI would have on sexuality, other than the obvious “if you can share your feelings, your relationships (and therefore sex) will be better.) Fortunately, somebody else came up with the idea.

They looked at 2035 cisgender women from the TwinsUK registry and had them fill out questionnaires about EI and sexual behaviors. And they found that EI correlated with frequency of orgasm during both intercourse and masturbation. (It’s not clear whether they looked at other sexual activities or whether they took sexual orientation into account.) In fact, women in the lowest 25% on the EI scale were about twice as likely to report infrequent orgasms. Further, there wasn’t a correlation between EI and some of the common factors that contribute to difficulty with orgasms for women, such as age, physical or sexual abuse, or menopause.

It’s worth mentioning that there isn’t anything here to show that EI leads to better orgasms, but it would be an interesting experiment to create classes to build EI skills and see if orgasm experiences change. It would also be good to know if there’s a relationship between EI and sex for cisgender men and transgender people, too. I should start keeping a list of ideas, in case any grad students are looking for dissertation projects. 🙂

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Dr. Charlie Glickman

Charlie Glickman is the Education Program Manager at Good Vibrations. He also writes, blogs, teaches workshops and university courses, presents at conferences, and trains sexuality educators. He’s certified by the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists, and loves geeking out about sex, relationships, sex-positivity, love and shame, communities of erotic affiliation, and sexual practices and techniques of all varieties. Follow him online, on Twitter at @charlieglickman, or on Facebook.

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