Home Australia Does being handsome mean having better sex? Tracey Cox reveals the truth about how appearance affects your love life: as beautiful people say, it can be a real burden

Does being handsome mean having better sex? Tracey Cox reveals the truth about how appearance affects your love life: as beautiful people say, it can be a real burden

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British relationship and sex expert Tracey Cox says beautiful people have more sexual partners (file photo)

When it comes to sex, beauty often takes center stage.

We all tend to assume that the better looking you are, the more sex there is on offer and the more you have it.

But is the myth that beauty equals sexual satisfaction true? I looked at research and anecdotal evidence to find out.

British relationship and sex expert Tracey Cox says beautiful people have more sexual partners (file photo)

Beautiful people have more sexual partners

This is true. American social psychologist Justin Lehmiller reviewed scientific research to determine whether attractive people have more sexual partners and found three different studies that came to the same conclusion: yes.


There is no specific scientific research that conclusively proves that super attractive people are lazy during sex. But there is a lot of anecdotal evidence out there.

“I’ve never had worse sex. He made me feel like just being in my bed should be enough. He never once used his hand or his mouth to pleasure me.

‘He looked in the mirror, clearly very impressed with what he saw. Having sex with me was more about showing off the results of all that training than connecting with me.’

“There was a lot of ‘let’s both admire how wonderful I look’ and a real dearth of ‘let’s both explore how we can pleasure each other.'”

That’s a mere snippet of the negative comments people sent when I asked them about their experience sleeping with a beauty.

Part of this can be attributed to the “halo effect”: a cognitive bias in which our perception of a person’s attractiveness influences our judgments about their other qualities.

For some that is a positive: they are attractive, so they must also be intelligent and socially capable. Others take on negative traits: they are lazy or entitled. Stereotypical beauty is often presented as self-centered, vain, and less committed in relationships.

This could be true in some cases. But not all beautiful people are superficial, and not all are stupid.

Very pretty people sleep with more people, probably because they have more opportunities than the rest of us.

The downside of this for their partners is that they may take sex for granted and feel less grateful when they get it. If you know there will be 10 others lining up to take your spot, you’ll be less interested in making sure your current match works.

There is no evidence that beauty increases sexual satisfaction

Several studies have explored the link between physical attractiveness and sexual satisfaction.

No correlation was found between beauty and satisfaction: what counted were factors such as communication, emotional connection and sexual compatibility.

Another showed that the vital ingredient is how beautiful we think we are, not how others see us. Our own perception of our attractiveness is more important to sexual satisfaction than our actual physical beauty.

Looking sexy doesn’t make you want more sex either. Our “resting libido” (the amount of sex we want in a relationship per year or so) is largely determined by genetics, not looks.

Being compatible in bed trumps looking sexy

What we like to do and be done to sexually plays a much more crucial role than how happy you appear in bed. If you are an adventurous lover who likes sex outdoors, it won’t matter how beautiful a person is if she is only willing to have sex sessions in the dark and only in bed.

One study found that while appearance influences initial attraction, it has minimal impact on long-term relationship satisfaction or sexual compatibility.

Beauty can bring people together, but it doesn’t guarantee satisfying sex.

Being desired increases sexual self-esteem

Knowing that you are more attractive than the average person means you are likely to be more confident in your body. And this puts you a big step ahead of the rest when it comes to enjoying yourself with a lover.

A 2012 landmark review of 57 studies, spanning two decades of research, found significant links between body image and nearly every factor associated with sex: arousal, desire, orgasm, frequency of intercourse, and sexual self-esteem.

Another recent study noted that feeling desired is the number one thing that turns women on. Researchers surveyed 662 heterosexual women in a relationship to find out the factors that made them more likely to lust after their partner. Being seen as attractive and desirable by your partner was the most important factor in determining desire.

Tracey (pictured) said:

Tracey (pictured) said: “Very pretty people sleep with more people, probably because they have more opportunities than the rest of us.”

Average People Can Be Confident Too

But just because you look sexy doesn’t mean you feel sexy. Feeling desirable is an attitude, not a look. Many people with perfect bodies are obsessed with perceived imperfections.


Kia, 26, is an underwear model.

“I’m pretty sure I get asked out mainly because I have a good body. It’s not a nice feeling. Some guys asked me to walk around naked while they sat there and looked at each other and touched each other. I’m a person, not a sex toy!” ! I get endless compliments on my breasts, my legs, my butt, but my boyfriend of two years is the first person who saw me. He told me he loved how I smelled and how our bodies fit together. No wonder he chose it.

Jamie, 22, is a model and footballer.

‘It’s ridiculous to think that appearances don’t matter. There is no way I would attract women the way I do, if I were short, thin and ugly. This is a reality, but it doesn’t make me vain. There’s a pressure on pretty people when you sleep with someone for the first time. I’m confident being naked, but I’m worried that my penis doesn’t look big enough compared to my body. I’m not sure it will last long enough either. All my friends think I have it all figured out because women like me. But only when I meet a girl does my performance anxiety become manageable. I may seem confident, but I’m just as insecure about sex as the next man.

Confidence is what really matters, and that’s not exclusive to beauty. People of all shapes, sizes and appearances can be confident and sure of themselves.

Beautiful people may be more anxious

People blessed by beauty are often well aware that their most precious asset – their appearance – will one day fade.

An extremely beautiful person often receives praise solely for their appearance: few look past this to see what else they have to offer. Mr. or Mrs. Average is much more likely to tell them that they are funny, smart, or nice.

Appearance is affected by health, weight, time, money, fitness – a huge number of things, not all of them under our control. Personality traits are less likely to change over time.

They are less likely to function sexually.

If your attractiveness depends mainly on your appearance, you often feel more inhibited in bed. Good sex means being in the moment, closing your eyes and focusing on what you feel, not how you look.

If you’re not willing to try that new position in case it makes you look less than perfect or you’re worried about sweating for fear of ruining your hair or makeup, neither of you will enjoy it.

The best sex is about chemistry and connection.

That’s the conclusion of the main body of research (and mine, after researching and writing about sex for decades).

Neither of them has anything to do with how each of you rate on the attractiveness scale.

Kiss someone’s lips and feel like you’ve met your person. Being hypnotized by a person’s body because it belongs to you. Wanting to give pleasure, being willing to explore and commit. Lying side by side for hours and wishing they could stay there forever.

Beauty may attract attention, but appearance plays a surprisingly small role in sexual happiness and satisfaction.

Do you want more information about sex and relationships? Visit traceycox.com for her blog, podcast details, books and product ranges.

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