The dry spell : an interaction ritual approach to sexual inactivity and mental health among American young adults.


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Contemporary society reinforces gendered sexual scripts as a mode of sexual behavior; wherein men seek affirmation as active agents of sexual encounters and women take the passive role as gatekeepers of access to sex. Much research exists on the effects of sexual scripts on women, with limited examination of the impact on men and mental health, particularly outside the active agent role. Using Wave 4 of the National Survey of Youth and Religion, I find that men who report no sex in the past six months or more were more likely to report depressive symptoms and were significantly less satisfied with their lives than their counterparts, with no protective effect of prior sex partners. The impact of sexual encounters on life satisfaction was fully mediated by levels of commitment. These findings suggest that the relationship between sexuality and well-being may be best analyzed as an affirmation of commitment.