What Your Personality Says About Your Sexual Lifestyle

Contributing Sex & Relationships Editor By Kelly Gonsalves
Contributing Sex & Relationships Editor
Kelly Gonsalves is a sex educator and journalist. She received her journalism degree from Northwestern University, and her writings on sex, relationships, identity, and wellness have appeared at The Washington Post, Vice, Teen Vogue, Cosmopolitan, and elsewhere.
You Can Apparently Tell A Lot About A Person's Sexual Lifestyle Based On Their Personality

Photo by Studio Firma

Sexual compatibility is undeniably a crucial part of what makes a successful, happy relationship, but often it's hard to tell what a person's preferences are like before you actually get in bed with them. While I'm all for candid conversations about sexuality early on in a relationship, in reality, bringing up these intimate details over coffee with someone you don't know that well is way easier said than done. And frankly, wouldn't it sometimes be great to have all that information about a person before you even start floating the idea of romance with them?

Well, as it turns out, you might be able to tell a lot about a person's sexual lifestyle based on their personality alone. In a new study published in the journal Psychological Bulletin, researchers analyzed 137 previous studies that dealt with sexuality and the "Big 5" personality traits—neuroticism, extroversion, openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness. With data on a total pool of 420,595 people, the researchers were able to identify specific sexual preferences, behaviors, and health factors associated with certain personality types.

Here were their main findings:

Extroversion (the social ones)

Extroverts are highly social, outgoing people, so it makes sense that these people were more likely to engage in more sexual activity, including casual sex and noncommitted sex, and were more likely to have a higher number of lifetime sexual partners. Extroversion was also the trait most strongly related to sexual risk-taking, such as engaging in unprotected sex.

"That extroverted people are more sexually active is perhaps unsurprising given that extroverted people have greater motivation for social contact and are characterized by greater excitation and lower inhibition," the paper notes.

These social butterflies also tended to be a little more sexually satisfied overall and a little less likely to experience negative emotions during sex.

One strange finding? Older men who were more extroverted tended to display more sexual aggression.


Neuroticism (the moody ones)

Neurotic people tend to experience a lot of anxiety, anger, guilt, loneliness, and other negative emotions. Understandably, these folks tended to be more dissatisfied with sex and feel more negative emotions during it. They also were more likely to show symptoms of sexual dysfunction, particularly among older adults.

Neuroticism also had a positive association with engaging in sexual coercion and sexual harassment.

Openness (the open-minded ones)

Predictably, people who were more open-minded were more likely to be gay or have liberal attitudes toward sex. "These associations make intuitive sense given that openness represents the extent to which people are open to new and alternative ways of thinking," the authors write. The reverse was also true: Gay men and women tended to be more open-minded than straight people.

Open-mindedness also seemed to be slightly associated with number of sexual partners, suggesting more freethinking folks might be more likely to sleep with more people throughout their lives.


Agreeableness (the friendly ones) and conscientiousness (the responsible ones)

Agreeable people, who are warm and easy to be around, shared a lot in common with conscientious people, who tend to be very responsible and morally upright. Both personality types were less likely to display sexually aggressive behavior or to be unfaithful to their partners, and they both tended to have less sex than other personality types, particularly casual sex and particularly among young people. Those responsible people were also less likely to take a lot of sexual risks or to sexually harass others, which is none too surprising.

A more interesting finding? Those warm, friendly personalities also tended to have more conservative attitudes toward sex.

Just remember to put all of this in perspective.

While it's lots of fun to see yourself and your peers represented in personality maps like these, this isn't a license to go around making assumptions about the most private parts of people's lives before you get to know them. (It's not particularly productive or accurate to assume all anxious people have awful sex lives, for example.)

The broader take-away here is simply that a person's sexuality can be a pretty accurate reflection of their personality—many of the behaviors associated with each of these character traits seemed fairly predictable or obvious, aside from a few unexpected findings. So if you want a more adventurous sex life, seek out more adventurous people. If you love soft, slow, passionate sex, seek out people who enjoy depth and connection in other parts of their lives.

But at the end of the day, humans are diverse and multifaceted creatures. So who really knows?

Want your passion for wellness to change the world? Become A Functional Nutrition Coach! Enroll today to join live July office hours.


More On This Topic

How To Find True Love In The Modern World
More Relationships

Popular Stories


Latest Articles

Latest Articles

Sites We Love

Your article and new folder have been saved!