Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Committee Member

Marta Meana

Second Committee Member

Cortney Warren

Third Committee Member

Michelle Carro

Fourth Committee Member

Barbara Brents

Fifth Committee Member

Stephen Benning

Number of Pages



Sexual behavior has been found to be an unreliable referent for sexual desire. Numerous studies have found that sexual activity is motivated by a range of non-desire related factors, from the promotion of intimacy to the seeking of new experiences. Sexual desire may also be an unreliable predictor of sexual activity. There is a dearth of research, however, on the reasons why individuals choose not to have sex despite the presence of desire for a willing partner. The main aim of this study is to qualitatively investigate the reasons why people refrain from sex when they feel desire for a willing partner. A secondary aim is to investigate differences in the reasons generated depending on whether desire is defined amorphously, physiologically or subjectively. The ultimate aim for future study is the construction and validation of the Bigger Than Desire Questionnaire (BTDQ) that will serve as a quantitative investigation of these reasons. In order to truly understand the sexual desire-sexual activity relationship, it is important to understand both why people have sex without desire and why people refrain from having sex despite desire.


Desire; Female desire; Man-woman relationships; Sex (Psychology); Sex customs; Sexual abstinence; Sexual avoidance; Sexual behavior; Sexual excitement; Sexual intercourse; Sexuality


Gender and Sexuality | Psychology