How partner gender influences women’s sexual expectations

Partner gender plays a significant role in how women approach sex.


A past study suggests the existence of an ‘organsm gap’, which refers to the disparity in sexual satisfaction—specifically the unequal frequency in achieving orgasm during sexual encounters—between heterosexual men and women.

A new study- published in Social Psychological and Personality Science- goes deeper, trying to understand how a partner’s gender shapes women’s expectations and, ultimately, their pursuit of orgasm.

The study looked into the variables affecting women of all sexual orientations’ orgasm rates. The gender of the partner has a significant impact on how women approach sex, according to the researchers. And how likely they are to experience an orgasm.

In two samples, the study discovered that:

  • When expecting a female partner instead of a male partner, women reported far higher expectations for clitoral stimulation and orgasm. This implies that women expect various sexual behaviors depending on the gender of their partner.
  • The gender of their partner significantly influenced women’s quest for orgasms. This indicates that clitoral stimulation and orgasmic expectations acted as mediating factors, with partner gender influencing women’s propensity to pursue orgasm. Put another way, women reported higher anticipation for clitoral stimulation and orgasm when they anticipated having sex with a female partner, and they were also more likely to achieve climax themselves actively.

These results imply that dominant sexual scripts, which differ depending on the gender of the partner, could be a factor in the orgasm difference by influencing women’s expectations and sex-related actions.

Lead author Kate Dickman, a recent graduate of Rutgers University, emphasizes the practical implications: “If women, or men partnered with women, want to increase their own or their partners’ orgasm, they should create an environment that encourages orgasm pursuit through diverse sex acts, particularly those involving clitoral stimulation.”

Co-author Grace Wetzel of Rutgers University highlights the broader context: “This research contributes to understanding gender disparities and inequities. It also sheds light on why the orgasm gap exists—specifically, how different expectations for sex with men and women can explain these differences.”

“The results could be interpreted to mean that sex with men is intrinsically worse than sex with women, but this is not necessarily the case.”

“The problem is not inherent to men or to being heterosexual, but to the dominant sexual scripts associated with heterosexual sex. Sexual scripts are flexible and can be changed.”

Dickman concludes“This study is just one piece of a larger conversation about gender disparities. Orgasm is just one aspect of sexual satisfaction, and this research should not be misinterpreted as suggesting that orgasm is the sole measure of a fulfilling sexual experience.”

Journal Reference:

  1. Kate Dickman, Grace M. Wetzel et al. The Role of Partner Gender: How Sexual Expectations Shape the Pursuit of an Orgasm Goal for Heterosexual, Lesbian, and Bisexual Women. Social Psychological and Personality Science. DOI: 10.1177/19485506241235235


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