How Many People Have Had 'Rough Sex'?

New research explores what 'rough sex' means and how many people practice it.

3/5/2021 1:18:00 AM

'Rough sex' is more common—and enjoyable—than you might think, writes JustinLehmiller

New research explores what 'rough sex' means and how many people practice it.

scratching (52%)Put another way, more than half of the sample counted the above activities as forms of rough sex. Items endorsed by less than half of the sample included:throwing someone onto a bed (49%)tearing clothes off (45%)punching (33%)making someone have sex (17%)

There were some differences across groups in terms of what people counted as rough sex, though. For example, transgender and non-binary participants generally counted more of these behaviors as rough sex than their cisgender counterparts.These activities also statistically clustered into two groups that differed based on intensity. One group of behaviors included things like being pinned down, hard thrusting, and spanking; by contrast, the other included things like choking, punching, and slapping. In other words, there’s “rough sex” and then there’s “rougher sex,” and people’s definitions may center more around one or the other, which points to the importance of clarifying what a partner means when they say they’re into “rough sex.”

Don’t assume that your definition is necessarily the same as theirs.The researchers also looked at experience with and enjoyment of rough sex behaviors. Among those who had a current sexual or romantic partner (about 36% of the sample), 79% said they had engaged in rough sex with their partner before. Put another way, just 1 in 5 people in relationships said they had

neverdone it. Only those in relationships were asked about their previous rough sex behaviors, which means it is unclear how many of the single participants had ever tried it.Of the 79% who said they’d had rough sex, this is how the frequency of the behavior broke down: 29% said they do it rarely, 37% said they do it sometimes, and 13% said they do it often. Greater frequency of rough sex behavior was linked to trans or non-binary identification, bisexual identification, and higher levels of

alcoholconsumption. How long people had been in their relationships and the nature of their relationship (casual vs. committed) were unrelated to frequency of rough sex.In terms of rough sex enjoyment, just 1.3% said “not at all.” The rest said “a little” (14%), “somewhat” (46%), or “very much” (39%). Put another way, almost everyone who had tried rough sex before reported at least some enjoyment of it.

That said, transgender and non-binary participants reported higher rates of rough sex enjoyment than cisgender persons.Sexual orientationwas unrelated to enjoyment of rough sex among men, whereas sexual minority women (but especially bisexual women) reported higher enjoyment of rough sex than heterosexual women.

It is, of course, important to note that these findings come from a study of college students in the United States; consequently, they don’t tell us about definitions, prevalence, or enjoyment of rough sex among older adults, or among persons of different cultures. They also don’t tell us where people’s definitions of rough sex come from, which would be an interesting question to explore in future research. For example, how much are these definitions shaped by exposure to popular media (think

Fifty Shades of Grey)porn?That said, these results add significantly to our understanding of rough sex and suggest that this is more than just a popular fantasy for most young adults in relationships; it’s also a common reality (although it is important to recognize that"rough sex" seems to mean different things to different people).

Read more: Psychology Today »

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JustinLehmiller . . .the boundary in relation to DV would be too risky and once dignity is lost in an intimate setting, the whole dynamics of the relationship would change. I've read that it is a way some trauma victims seek to regain control; the longterm impact seems to be an afterthought. JustinLehmiller No thank you.

JustinLehmiller This is highly problematic. 17% of respondents endorsed 'making someone have sex'. That's rape. These are college students, who may have been groomed to accept rough sex as normal. Porn has a big role to play, especially when we know that boys as young as 10 are accessing JustinLehmiller Not for me.

JustinLehmiller Aku mau sih JustinLehmiller We fell out of the back of a truck! That was some rough sex lol Yes is the answer! Who hasn’t JustinLehmiller Not me JustinLehmiller Well, yeah 🙄 JustinLehmiller I draw the line at hair pulling... JustinLehmiller Why is this on psychology today is the real reason. You're into BDSM? literally no one gives a fuck

JustinLehmiller Count me the hell out! I think it’s a signal of trauma! JustinLehmiller Haydde22