Attachment Insecurity and Sexual and Relational Experiences in Saudi Arabian Women: The Role of Perceived Partner Responsiveness and Sexual Assertiveness

Atia Attaky*, Gerjo Kok, Marieke Dewitte

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal(Systematic) Review article peer-review

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Background: Attachment and intimacy play an important role in shaping sexual and relational experiences. Yet, their interrelation has rarely been investigated in the context of sexual problems and never been tested in Saudi Arabian women.

Aim: The present study examined the interrelations of attachment orientation and sexual function, distress, satisfaction, and relational satisfaction in a sample of Saudi Arabian women and explored whether this link can be explained by 2 important aspects of (sexual) intimacy, namely perceived partner responsiveness (PPR) and sexual assertiveness.

Method: This is a cross-sectional, observational study in a sample of 50 heterosexual women with sexual problems and 50 control women without problems, who completed an Arabic version of questionnaires on attachment orientation, sexual assertiveness, PPR, relationship satisfaction, sexual satisfaction, sexual distress, and sexual function.

Results: We found that both attachment anxiety and sexual refusal showed a significant association with the level of sexual function, sexual distress, and sexual satisfaction (P

Strengths & Limitations: This study offers unique information on relational and sexual functioning in a culture in which sexual expression and intimate behavior are restricted, particularly in women.

Clinical Implications: Perceiving the partner as being more responsive is an important target of intervention to increase satisfaction with the relationship.

Conclusions: Our results suggest that attachment anxiety and low sexual assertiveness, as indicated by lower tendencies to refuse sex when not desired, play a significant role in predicting negative sexual experiences in women who cope with sexual difficulties.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1383-1394
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of sexual medicine
Issue number7
Early online date8 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020


  • Attachment
  • Relationships
  • Interpersonal
  • Perceived Partner Responsiveness
  • Sexual Assertiveness
  • Sexual Function
  • Saudi Arabia

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