236 CHAPTER 8
Level +2 (Making Love) emphasizes mutual pleasure through
individual sexual creativity and experimentation. Traditional gender-
role behavior is set aside, and sex expands to an erotic recreational
experience. Partners reveal themselves more deeply through sexual
self-expression and communication that create greater intimacy.
Level +3 (Authentic Sexual Intimacy) brings a shared sense of deep
connection both to oneself and to one’s partner, with reverence toward the
body in the erotic experience. e enjoyment of sensual pleasure includes
a profound expression of love for one another. Emotional honesty and
openness are of paramount importance, and each partner gains a deeper
sense of wholeness. Authentic sexual intimacy can be a momentary peak
experience, or it can characterize an entire lovemaking experience.
Maltz points out that sexual interactions can also be upsetting or
traumatic ordeals, often imposed on one person by another. On the
negative side of her hierarchy, each level becomes increasingly destruc-
tive and abusive.
Level –1 (Impersonal Interaction) is marked by a lack of respect and
responsibility toward oneself and the other person. Here, individuals
disregard possible negative consequences for themselves and their part-
ners, including unwanted pregnancy and exposure to sexually trans-
mitted infections, including HIV. Enduring unpleasant sex and being
dishonest about issues relevant to the partner (health status or meaning
of the sexual experience) occur at this level. ese experiences result in
uncomfortable, uneasy feelings. An example of such a result can be how
a person feels about himself or herself after “hooking up.” One study
found that college women were more likely than college men to have
negative reactions after a one-time sexual encounter (Owen & Fincham,
2011). Alcohol and drug use is often an element in sexual experiences
that individuals later regret (Kaiser Family Foundation, 2003).
Level –2 (Abusive Interaction) involves one person’s conscious
domination of another by psychological coercion. is can include
coercion for a particular sexual activity. For example, one study found
that about 50% of young women had felt pressured to engage in oral sex on one or more
occasions (Hammond et al., 2011). Other examples include nonviolent acquaintance
rape and incest, and degrading coercive communication. Distorted thinking allows the
exploitative person to rationalize or deny the harm he or she is inicting on the other
person. e experience usually damages the exploited person’s self-esteem.
Level –3 (Violent Interaction) occurs when sexual energy is used purposefully to
express hostility. Sex organs are weapons and targets. Rape is the most extreme example.
Frequency of Partner Sexual Activity
The 2005 Global Sex Survey of 317,000 people in 41 countries found that, on aver-
age, individuals have sex 103 times a year.
■ Table 8.3 shows the range of frequency in
e following discussions of shared sexual behaviors, except for coitus and gay and
lesbian sexual expression, are directed toward all individuals, regardless of their sexual
orientation. In fact, because sex between same-sex partners does not duplicate the per-
vasive heterosexual model’s emphasis on penile–vaginal intercourse, gays’ and lesbians’
sexual repertoire is often more expansive and creative than heterosexuals’ (Nichols,
2000; Sanders, 2000). In lesbian sexual relationships the mutual desire for an apprecia-
tion of touching can result in increased sexual arousal and orgasm compared to women
in heterosexual relationships (Laumann et al., 1994). When a heterosexual sexual
Level +3 Authentic Sexual Intimacy
Emotional openness and closeness;
feelings of ecstasy
Level +2 Making Love
Level +1 Positive Role Fulfillment
religious or cultural duty;
sex for reproduction
Level –1 Impersonal Interaction
Lack of responsibility for birth control,
sexually transmitted infections,
or well-being of self and other
Level –2 Abusive Interaction
Sexual dominance and coercion
Level –3 Violent Interaction
Sex used to express hostility;
Sexual Energy (Ground Zero)
❚ Figure 8.3 The Maltz hierarchy of sexual interactions.
SOURCE: Maltz (2001).
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