J Sex Marital Ther.

2015 Nov-Dec;41(6):593-609. doi: 10.1080/0092623X.2014.958788. Epub 2014 Oct 28.

Morton H1, Gorzalka BB.


This review investigates whether sexual desire and arousal decline in response to partner familiarity, increase in response to partner novelty, and show differential responding in men and women. These questions were considered through the perspective of two leading evolutionary theories regarding human mating strategies: sexual strategies theory and attachment fertility theory. The hypotheses emerging from these theories were evaluated through a critical analysis of several areas of research including habituation of arousal to erotic stimuli, preferences regarding number of sexual partners, the effect of long-term monogamous relationships on sexual arousal and desire, and prevalence and risk factors associated with extradyadic behavior. The current literature best supports the predictions made by sexual strategies theory in that sexual functioning has evolved to promote short-term mating. Sexual arousal and desire appear to decrease in response to partner familiarity and increase in response to partner novelty in men and women. Evidence to date suggests this effect may be greater in men.