Emotional Intelligence and Better Sex (For Women)

I just 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. 🙂

5 Responses so far.

  1. Chrystal says:

    Fascinating. I agree. That would make a wonderful study or seminar. I can see Reid offering this kind of class.

    Thanks for sharing your insight and this study. I am going to look for it.

  2. Link broken on “masturbation” in the next-to-last paragraph.

    Being able to have orgasms may contribute to better EI rather than the other way around, though, right? This doesn’t seem much more implausible to me than your hypothesis.

  3. Charlie says:

    Link fixed. Thanks!

  4. are orgasms always the desired outcome of sex?

    I don’t really believe EI is a ‘thing’ that can be ‘measured’ anyway.

    Also I often get off on sex with men who are not very emotionally sensitive or even tuned to my ‘needs’. I really think it depends on what your kink is. Masochists can be very contrary creatures.

  5. Laurel says:

    Brilliant as usual, my sweet friend, I love reading your blog.

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