According to this research, having more sex may actually make couples less happy — if they feel like they’re being told to have more sex. The Carnegie Mellon study, published in the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, studied 64 heterosexual married couples between 35 and 65 years old. Group one was told to have sex as they usually did for the next three months; group two was told to have twice as much sex as they usually did. Researchers then measured the couples’ happiness and sexual satisfaction. And guess what? Group two enjoyed the sex less, had less desire for sex, and overall, was less happy.
The researchers aren’t claiming their study proves that more sex equals less happiness. (Though this could certainly be true for some couples — it’s hard to pine for each other when you’re doing it all the time!) Rather, they think that the couples resented having sex be some kind of task that they had to check off on a to-do list, whether or not they were in the mood. It’s the ultimate honey-do list!
George Loewenstein, PhD, the head researcher, told EurekAlert.org:
If we ran the study again, and could afford to do it, we would try to encourage subjects into initiating more sex in ways that put them in a sexy frame of mind — perhaps with baby-sitting, hotel rooms, or Egyptian sheets — rather than directing them to do so.
But not every couple has a university researcher who will treat them to a fancy hotel room or nice sheets. So here are six suggestions for how you can have more sex in your relationship… without setting yourself some kind of goal that will feel like homework.
1. Talk About Your Own Sex Life
Remember when your relationship was new and you two were like this narcissistic unit, attached at the mouth/genitals? You talked about yourselves all the time back then, right? You talked to each other about how good the sex was, you talked about how into each other you were, and you didn’t really want to talk about or to anyone else. Well, it’s good that you moved on from that stage, otherwise you’d probably lose your job and your friends (and you’d never even consider procreation). But you could use a little more of that attention in your relationship now — and a little goes a long way. Take some time out of talking about your day to talk to each other about what you did in bed last night/last week/your best time ever. It’s like stealth foreplay, priming yourselves for more of that good stuff.
2. Make Actual Dates
Remember dates? That thing you used to do when you were first getting together? You’d actually shave and get dressed up and try to smell nice for one another. Make sure you’re regularly — okay, even just once in a while — getting together in a way that feels a little special, a little out of the ordinary. Even if you’re just staying home, lighting some candles, and giving your partner a thoughtful, intentional, all-over body massage, that counts as a date! Pretend you haven’t known each other that long and that you actually want to have sex later, that sex is the ideal, ultimate goal. You’ll have time to mentally prepare, physically prepare, and by the time you get to the end of the night — who knows! — you may actually be surprised how into it you are and how special it can fell after all this time.
3. Sext Your Partner with a Promise
Keep it playful, keep it fun. A passionless “Let’s have sex tonight” might feel like you just added one more item to the bottom of your to-do list. “Wanna do it later?” with a wink emoji is an improvement, with less pressure. But you should also try to get a little dirtier and be more specific — that way, it’ll likely feel more organic.
4. Shower Just Before Bed
Duh, right? It takes five minutes. Just try it.
5. Keep Your Sex Toys Handy
What’s on your nightstand right now? A stack of books and magazines, an alarm clock, a tube of Chapstick, a box of Kleenex, your iPhone? Now, how about your sex toys, where are they? In a box under your bed? In your closet? When your bedside accessories are right there, next to your night-time lip balm — and fully charged, don’t forget, that’s important — they’re much harder to ignore. (If you have nosy kids or house guests, hide a vibrator inside your box of Kleenex!) Same goes for lube — especially helpful when arousal isn’t as quick to arrive as desire.
6. Ask Each Other These 36 Questions On a Date Night
Here’s a way to make a date night feel truly intimate: Ask each other these 36 questions. (The author of the questions also recommends staring into each other’s eyes for four full silent minutes at the end of the date — if you can pull that off, too, more power to you!)
This post has been updated.
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