Štulhofer A, Mehulić J, Briken P, Klapilová K, de Graaf H, Carvalheira AA, Löfgren-Mårtenson C, Nobre P, Chollier M, Köse Ö, Elmerstig E, Lançon C, Plášilová L, Schröder J
Arch Sex Behav - (-) - [2022-01-17; online 2022-01-17]
Due to COVID-19 pandemic, different restrictive measures in terms of physical distancing and lockdowns have been introduced in most European countries, affecting all facets of social life. Currently, little is known about how partnered individuals perceive changes in their sexual life during this complex emergency. This study explored retrospectively assessed changes in sexual interest for one's partner and levels of distress related to perceived sexual interest discrepancy during the first phase of the pandemic in a large-scale online sample of partnered individuals (n = 4813; Mage = 38.5 years, SD = 10.74) recruited between May and July 2020 in seven European Union countries and Turkey. We also examined the possible role of approach/avoidance motives for sex in reported changes in sexual interest and associated distress. Most participants (53%) reported no change in their sexual interest during the pandemic, followed by those who reported an increase (28.5%). The pattern was similar across the eight countries. Distress about discrepant sexual interest, which was only weakly related to changes in sexual interest, was significantly associated with relationship quality and emotional closeness with a partner, coping with and worrying about the pandemic, and specific motivation for sex. In contrast to avoidant and relationship-focused approach motivation, ego-focused approach motivation was related to stable sexual interest during the pandemic. The current study contributes to the understanding of the link between sexual interest and complex emergencies. Considering that the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the reported experiences and perceptions are prone to change.