Welcome to sex meets relationships


The Sex & Relationships Lab studies factors relating to intimate exchange, communication, interactions, and response.

Current research projects:

  • Sexual functioning and problems in sexual functioning among young people
  • The aftermath of breakups, such as stalking, cyberstalking, and depression
  • Romantic commitment, intimacy and satisfaction
  • Sexual assault
  • Access to sexual health services and sexual health education
  • Monogamy, infidelity and mate poaching
  • Social media, online pornography, and the impact of technology on intimate relationships

The Sex & Relationships Lab is led by Dr. O’Sullivan who is a social psychologist and Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of New Brunswick. She is also the director of the Experimental Psychology program and the director of the Sex and Relationships Lab. Her work focuses primarily on sexual health, intimate relationships, and the affective and cognitive components of sexual decision-making of young adults and adolescents. 


Recent Publications


Belu, C. F., & O’Sullivan, L. F. (2019).  Roving eyes: Predictors of crushes in ongoing romantic relationships and implications for relationship quality. Journal of Relationship Research, 10, e2

Foshay, J. E., & O’Sullivan, L. F. (2019). Coping and unwanted pursuit behaviors following break-ups in young adulthood. Journal of Relationships Research, 10, e3.

O’Sullivan, L. F., Hughes, K., Talbot, K., & Fuller, R. (in press). Plenty of fish in the ocean: How do traits reflecting resiliency moderate adjustment after experiencing a romantic breakup in emerging adulthood?  Journal of Youth and Adolescence.  DOI: 10.1007/s10964-019-00985-5.

O’Sullivan, L. F., Majerovich, J., & Wuest, J. (in press). From promoting healthy sexual functioning to managing biomedical sexual dysfunction: Health professional views of youth sexual health. SAGE Open Nursing.

O’Sullivan, L. F., Majerovich, J. A., & Milliken, M. (2019). A national survey of the provision of sexual health clinical services by public health in Canada.  International Journal of Sexual Health. Online ahead of print DOI: 10.1080/19317611.2018.1561588


Belu, C. F., & O’Sullivan, L. F. (2018). Why find my own when I can take yours?: The quality of relationships that arise from successful mate poaching. Journal of Relationship Research, 9, e6, 1-10.

Cormier, L. A., & O’Sullivan, L. F. (2018). Anti-climactic: Investigating how adolescents perceive and deal with orgasm difficulty. Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, 27, 111-122.

Fifield, J., O’Sullivan, L., Kelvin, E. A., Mantell, J. E., Exner, T., Ramjee, G., Blanchard, K., & Hoffman, S. (2018). Social support and violence-prone relationships as predictors of disclosure of HIV status among newly diagnosed HIV-positive South Africans. AIDS and Behavior. Online ahead of print DOI:10.1007/s10461-018-2136-z

Manzer, D., O’Sullivan, L. F., & Doucet, S. (2018). Myths, misunderstandings, and missing information: Experiences of nurse practitioners in delivery primary care to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) patients.  Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, 27, 157-170.

O’Sullivan, L. F., Byers, E. S., & Mitra, K. (2018). Sexual and reproductive health education attitudes and experience in India:  How much support is there for much-needed comprehensive sex education? Findings for an Internet Survey. Sex Education. Online ahead of print DOI:10.1080/14681811.2018.1506915

Vogels, E. A., & O’Sullivan, L. F. (2018). Porn, peers, and performing oral sex: The mediating role of peer norms on pornography’s influence regarding oral sex. Media Psychology. Online ahead of print DOI:10.1080/15213269.2018.1483249

Vogels, E. A., & O’Sullivan, L. F. (2018). The relationship among online sexually explicit material exposure to, desire for, and participation in rough sex.  Archives of Sexual Behavior. Online ahead of print DOI:10.1007/s10508-018-1290-8


Del Palacio-González, A., Clark, D. A., & O’Sullivan, L. F. (2017). Distress severity following a romantic breakup is associated with positive relationship memories among emerging adults. Emerging Adulthood, 5, 259-267.

Lee, B. H., & O’Sullivan, L. F. (2017). Walk the line: How successful are efforts to maintain monogamy in intimate relationships? Archives of Sexual Behavior.

Merwin, K. E., O’Sullivan, L. F., & Rosen, N. O. (2017). We need to talk: Disclosure of sexual problems is associated with depression, sexual functioning, and relationship satisfaction in women. Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, 43, 786-800.

Thompson, A. E., & O’Sullivan, L. F. (2017).  Understanding variations in judgments of infidelity: An application of Attribution Theory.  Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 39, 262-276.

Vannier, S. A., & O’Sullivan, L. F. (2017). Great expectations: Examining unmet romantic expectations and dating relationship outcomes using an investment model framework. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 34, 235-257.


Anisimowicz, Y., & O’Sullivan, L. F. (2016).  Men’s and women’s use and creation of online sexually explicit materials including fandom-related works.  Archives of Sexual Behavior, 46, 823-833. 

Belu, C. F., Lee, B. H., & O’Sullivan, L. F. (2016). It hurts to let you go: Characteristics of romantic relationships, breakups and the aftermath. Journal of Relationship Research, 7, e11, 1-11.

Boyle, A., & O’Sullivan, L. F. (2016).  Staying connected: Technology use, computer-mediated communication and relationship outcomes among college students. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 19, 299-307. 

Byers, E. S., O’Sullivan, L. F., & Brotto, L. (2016). Time out from sex or romance: Sexually experienced adolescents’ decisions to purposefully avoid sexual activity and/or romantic relationships. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 45, 831-845.

Del Palacio-González, A., Clark, D. A., & O’Sullivan, L. F. (2016).  Cognitive processing in the aftermath of relationship dissolution: Associations with concurrent and prospective distress and posttraumatic growth.  Stress and Health, 33, 540-548.

Gibson, K., O’Sullivan, L. F., & Thompson, A. E. (2016). Love thy neighbor: Personality traits, relationship quality and attraction to others as predictors of infidelity. Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, 25, 186-198.

Hamilton, R., Scott, D., O’Sullivan, L., LaChapelle, D. (2016). Applying Social Cognitive Theory to predict hazing perpetration in university athletics. The Journal of Sport Behavior, 39, 255-277.

O’Sullivan, L. F., Byers, E. S., Brotto, L. A., Majerovich, J. A., & Fletcher, J. (2016). A longitudinal study of problems in sexual functioning and related sexual distress among middle to late adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Health, 59, 318-324.

Read More

O’Sullivan, L. F., & Vannier, S. A. (2016). Women’s sexual desire and desire disorders from a developmental perspective.Current Sexual Health Reports, 8, 47-56.

Thompson, A. E., & O’Sullivan, L. F. (2016). I can but you can’t: Inconsistencies in judgments of and experiences with infidelity. Journal of Relationships Research, 7, e3.

Vannier, S. A., & O’Sullivan, L. F. (2016). Passion, connection & destiny: How romanticized expectations help predict satisfaction and commitment in young adults’ dating relationships. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.

O’Sullivan, L. F. (2015). High texting rates are associated with oral sex and intercourse experience in a longitudinal study of high school students. Computers in Human Behavior, 49, 526-531.

O’Sullivan, L. F. (2015). Sexual function and problems with adolescents and young adults. Current Sexual Health Reports, 7, 12-18.

O’Sullivan, L. F. (2015). Sexual communication, negotiation, and assertiveness. In P. Whelehan & A. Bolin (Eds.), The International Encyclopedia of Human Sexuality (pp. 1115-1354). Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.

O’Sullivan, L. F., Byers, E. S., Brotto, L. A., & Majerovich, J. (2015). Access to and use of sexual health care services among young Canadians with and without a history of sexual coercion. Canadian Family Physician, 61, e467-e473.

Thompson, A. E., & O’Sullivan, L. F. (2015). Drawing the line: The development of a comprehensive assessment of infidelity judgments. Journal of Sex Research, 18, epub 1-17.

Zimmer-Gembeck, M. J., See, L., & O’Sullivan, L. F. (2015). Young women’s satisfaction with sex and romance, and emotional reactions to sex: Associations with sexual entitlement, efficacy and situational factors. Emerging Adulthood, 3, 113-122.

Lee, B. H., & O’Sullivan, L. F. (2014). The ex-factor: Characteristics of online and offline post-relationship contact and tracking among Canadian emerging adults. Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, 23, 96-105.

O’Sullivan, L. F. (2014). Linking online sexual activities to health outcomes among teens. In E. S. Lefkowitz & S. A. Vasilenko (Eds.), Positive and Negative Outcomes of Sexual Behaviors. New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development, 144, 37-51.

O’Sullivan, L. F., Brotto, L. A., Byers, E. S., Majerovich, J., & Wuest, J. A. (2014). Problems in sexual functioning among middle to late adolescents. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 11, 630-641.

O’Sullivan, L. F., & Pasterski, V. (2014). Sexual problems in adolescents and young adults. In Y. M. Binik & K. Hall (Eds). Principles and Practices of Sex Therapy (5th Ed) (pp. 511-524). New York, NY: Guilford Publications.

O’Sullivan, L. F., & Ronis, S. (2014). Sexual development in girls: “Normative” development and development of paraphilias and sexual offending behaviors. In D. S. Bromberg & W. T. O’Donohue (Eds.), Handbook of Child and Adolescent Sexuality: Developmental and Forensic Psychology (pp. 193-219). San Diego, CA: Elsevier.

Thompson. A. E., O’Sullivan, L. F., Byers, E. S., & Shaughnessy, K. (2014). Young adults’ implicit and explicit attitudes toward sexuality of older adults. Canadian Journal on Aging, 33, 259-270.

Vannier, S. A., Currie, A. B., & O’Sullivan, L. F. (2014). School girls and soccer moms: A content analysis of free “Teen” and “MILF” online pornography.  Journal of Sex Research, 51, 253-264.

O’Sullivan, L. F., & Ronis, S. T. (2013). Virtual cheating hearts: Extradyadic and poaching interactions among adolescents with links to online sexual activities. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, 45, 175-184.

O’Sullivan, L. F., & Thompson, A. E. (2013). Sexuality in adolescence. In D. Tolman & L. Diamond (Eds.), APA Handbook of Sexuality and Psychology (pp. 433-486). Washington, DC: APA Books.

O’Sullivan, L. F., & Vannier, S. A. (2013). Playing the field? Does actual or perceived relationship status of another influence ratings of physical attractiveness among young adults? Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, 45, 210-219

Thompson, A. E., & O’Sullivan L. F. (2013). The relationship between men’s facial masculinity and women’s judgments of value as a potential romantic partner. Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, 22, 5-12 .