It turns out that if one person is less committed to a relationship than another, or generally a more dominant personality type, their feelings about condom use predict whether or not “if it’s not on, it’s not on,” actually holds true.
For the study out of the United States, the researchers took 113 heterosexual couples and asked them questions to test their personality, their commitment to the person they were sleeping with, and their attitudes to condoms.
Four months later they interviewed them again to see how their intentions about condom use matched up with what they actually did, Stuff.co.nz reported.s
What they found was that even if as a couple they said they intended to use condoms, if one partner was particularly dominant over another, their feelings about condom use were much more influential when it came down to sex.
The researchers also asked the couples a lot of questions about how committed they were to the other person.
Asking them to rate answers to questions like “I am committed to maintaining my relationship with my partner” and “My alternatives are attractive to me (dating another, spending time with friends or on my own, etc.).”
The researchers found that, basically, whatever the person who was least committed to the relationship wants, goes.
That is, when the couple decided together whether or not condoms were a priority, their decision was overwhelmingly influenced by what the partner with the least to lose wanted.
According to the researchers, it is the “principle of least interest” that best predicts which partner will get their way when a couple have to reconcile their different opinions.
They also found a few other worrying trends, including that whether or not the male partner was committed to condom use had more of an impact than whether the women, or the couple together, rated it as important.
The researchers concluded that despite the rise in both sexually transmitted infections and drug-resistant bugs globally, when it comes to condom use we seem more influenced by relationship dynamics than public health messages.