A new study has found that feeling that you are in a secure relationship with your partner could be bad news for your sexual health, with those who perceive their relationship to be a good one and their partner to be trustworthy less likely to practice safe sex.
In a new three-part study from the University of Kansas, researchers recruited in total 659 heterosexual males and females and asked them to complete surveys both online and in a lab setting.
For the study participants were placed into either a control group or one of three different ‘conditions’ -- security, anxiety, or avoidance. The participants placed in each of these conditions were then asked to remember a time when they had felt either secure, anxious or avoidant feelings about another person, before being asked questions about their sexual health habits and condom use during sex.
From participants’ responses the researchers found that those who felt more secure with their partner were also less likely to use a condom with them, whereas the less they cared for them, the more likely they were to use one.
Researcher John Sakaluk, now at the University of Toronto Mississauga, believes the explanation for this is individuals who feel secure about their partner also believe them to be more trustworthy, and so there is no need to use a condom.
“We see that they perceive sexual partners as less of a threat to their health, which results in more negative attitudes toward condom use,” commented Sakaluk, “If you feel generally good about other people’s intentions, you’ll be less likely to be concerned about unintended pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases. It’s irrational, but you feel like you can trust the other person and bad things aren’t going to happen.”
“Security is generally a good thing,” he added, “we want secure attachments in relationships, so it’s interesting to see that feelings of security seems to promote unsafe sex.”
Following his study Sakaluk suggests that it is important to consider how people’s feelings and emotions can influence their use of condoms, not only for studying sexual health further, but also for designing the interventions that can help to improve it.
The findings were published in the February 2016 edition of the Archives of Sexual Behaviour.
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