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Relationships, Attachment and Sexual Functioning


Marieke Dewitte

Clinical Psychologist & Sexologist
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Content: Research on the treatments of sexual dysfunctions has largely disregarded the contribution of the relationship characteristics and the individual’s attachment orientation history. In this video, Marieke Dewitte shares the most important findings of her research as she tries to answer some relevant clinical questions. 
1) How does one’s attachment orientation impact the way he/she experiences sex and relationships? Her findings indicated that those with an anxious vs. avoidant orientation perceive sex differently. 
2) What is the function of sex in a relationship? It seems that sex impacts the relationship, which in turn impacts sexual activity. 
3) What is the contribution of the partner’s responsiveness and presence to the sexual experience? 
Prof. Dewitte answers the above questions based on her research findings at Maastricht University. Being a clinician herself, Marieke explains to us the clinical implications of this line of research that she started more than ten years ago and is still ongoing. Passionate about understanding the contribution of relationship characteristics and attachment styles on sexuality, Marieke provides distilled clinical information from her career’s journey.


*Attaky A, Kok G, Dewitte M. Attachment Orientation Moderates the Sexual and Relational Implications of Sexual Desire Discrepancies. J Sex Marital Ther. 2022;48(4):343-362. 

*van Lankveld JJDM, Dewitte M, Verboon P, van Hooren SAH. Associations of Intimacy, Partner Responsiveness, and Attachment-Related Emotional Needs With Sexual Desire. Front Psychol. 2021;12:665967. 

*van Lankveld J, Dewitte M, Thewissen V, Jacobs N, Verboon P. Predicting Sexual Desire in Daily Life from an Attachment Perspective: An Experience Sampling study. J Sex Marital Ther. 2021;47(4):311-324. 

*Dewitte M, Schepers J. Relationship Context Moderates Couple Congruence in Ratings of Sexual Arousal and Pain During Vaginal Sensations in the Laboratory. Arch Sex Behav. 2019;48(8):2507-2518. 

Produced in 2022

Marieke Dewitte

Clinical Psychologist & Sexologist

Marieke Dewitte is a clinical psychologist-sexologist who had her training in Belgium and The Netherlands and completed her PhD at Ghent University, Belgium. She currently works as assistant professor at the Department of Clinical Psychological Science of the University of Maastricht, The Netherlands.

She teaches several courses and workshops on sexual responding at the university and in post-academic sexology trainings. Her research involves psychophysiological studies on basic mechanisms of sexual functioning, gender differences, interpersonal dynamics, dyadic interactions between partners, and attachment in relation to sexual responding.  The main focus of her research is on the sexual interaction between partners. Her clinical (research) focus is on female genital pain. She also worked as sex therapist at Ghent University Hospital and now at Maastricht University Hospital. She is editor-in-chief of the Dutch Journal of Sexology and Secretary General of ESSM.

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