How can power affect sexual relationships? In this article we will review how, as you gain power, sexual relationships can be affected.

All the relationships we build can be seen as power relationships . In this way, our interactions are conditioned by certain power dynamics that determine factors such as domination, submission, leadership, among others (Vasquez and Emanuel, 2012). Sometimes these dynamics bring into play the paradox of power.

In the context of sexual relations, when we talk about power, we understand it as the action of controlling and influencing the other person during a sexual practice. We can see it as “the action exerted on human beings by human beings” (Vargas, 2009). Power understood in this way can manifest itself in different ways and affect these relationships both positively and negatively.

The paradox of power and sexual relations: how are they related?

The power paradox occurs when a person who has gained power begins to lose the positive qualities that led to the position of power they currently hold . That is, the person is promoted based on his good qualities, but his behavior worsens each time he does so.

In the context of sexual relations, the paradox can be observed when one person, as they gain more control over the other, begins to engage in behaviors that degrade the relationship . Those attitudes or behaviors that initially led to a better relationship fade or disappear in the same proportion that power is gained in the sexual relationship. It is known that power has the ability to corrupt.

On the sexual level, the same thing happens with certain people. Thus, on certain occasions, power can deteriorate sexual relations. In fact, there are studies that show this relationship.

In an investigation carried out by Lammers et al. (2011 ) on the relationship between power and infidelity, it was found that high power is positively associated with infidelity , since power increases confidence in the ability to attract partners. Also because power can influence what people think about extramarital relationships.

In another study on power and sexual perception, Kunstman and Maner (2010) found that power activates interest in sex and causes biased perceptions of sexual interest in others. The authors point out that power coupled with the misperception of sexual interest can lead to sexual harassment .

Power dynamics in sexual relationships

Sexual relations manifest the power dynamics of each couple . There are those who assume dominant or submissive attitudes, in which power is expressed in particular ways. There are those who feel satisfied to feel powerful and have sexual control over the other, while there are others who like to feel controlled.

When the paradox of power begins to operate within these relationships, the behavior that characterizes each member can be degraded. Dominance and control can gradually lead to sexual sadism and submission to masochism.

Sexual sadism and the paradox of power

Sadism refers to a set of behaviors through which a person experiences pleasurable sensations by causing both physical and mental harm to another (Gomez, 2021). On the sexual plane, a person is sadistic when by inflicting pain, during sex, she experiences some degree of pleasure.

The paradox of power can exacerbate the practices of dominance and control of these people . This occurs in this way because with the gain of more power, the person finds himself in the need to deploy it more and more, and to do so, he requires greater mastery and control. In turn, the satisfaction he derives from such behaviors drives him to seek more pleasure and satisfaction, which makes his behavior worse and worse.

Sexual masochism and the paradox of power

Sexual masochism is the polar opposite of sexual sadism. Sexual masochism is understood as the preference for sexual activities that involve receiving pain, humiliation or slavery, this being the most important source of sexual gratification (Ibanez et al., 2013). In general, these activities entail an attitude of submission on the part of the person.

At first glance it seems that power and masochism are totally exclusive, but this is not always the case. Although it sounds paradoxical, there can be power in submission. When you can influence, manipulate and control through submissive behaviors we are facing a use of power.

When a submissive person or sexual masochist is faced with the paradox of power, their behavior begins to deteriorate further, since the way of experiencing power through humiliation, submission and pain leads them to increase the intensity and frequency of such behaviors.

In the long run, the behavior of the masochistic person not only ends up affecting her, but also the other person , who is forced to engage in aggressive acts that are not to her liking just to please her partner.

To conclude, the power paradox teaches us that sometimes having a lot of power in sexual relationships and in life in general can end up negatively affecting our behaviors. For this reason, it is convenient to cultivate self-control and recognize that the image that power sells us of ourselves can be a simple illusion.

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