If there’s one common trope about being in a long-term relationship it’s that things in the bedroom can begin to fizzle out with time. But while you may believe that’s just how things are, for those who stay “in lust” in the long term there’s a science-backed reason they’re able to keep things hot and heavy: how they view sex
According to a series of studies published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, researchers found that couples who believed that a healthy sexual relationship takes work — instead of being something that naturally happens in a compatible relationship — have better and more sex than their ideological counterparts.
During the study, researchers surveyed 1,900 people about their beliefs on what makes for a satisfying sex life. Interestingly enough, when people believed that having a great sex life actively required practice and work, the happier they, as well as their partners, were with their sex lives. Perhaps less surprising, they were also happier with their relationships overall.
On the other hand, those who believed that their sex life should naturally stay sizzlin’ just because you’re sharing a bed with a person you love proved far more likely to feel unsatisfied in their sex lives.
The authors of the study named the aforementioned view “sexual destiny,” whereas those who thought great sex in a long-term relationship took work were referred to as people with “sexual growth belief.”
Because sex and the overall state of the relationship are inextricably linked, those who follow "sexual destiny” felt sex to be a barometer of the relationship overall, linking discordance in the bedroom to overall relationship unhappiness. But when “sexual growth belief” couples experienced slumps between the sheets, they did not equate that to a problem in their relationship outside of the bedroom.
In a recent press release, lead study author Jessica Maxwell explained: “The need to work on sexual growth or rely on sexual destiny are so powerful they can either sustain otherwise healthy relationships or undermine them.”
Maxwell also explained that while there is a honeymoon phase of about two to three years with long-term couples during which sexual satisfaction is high among couples of both sexual outlooks, it begins to become less stable after that. That’s when the benefits of believing in sexual growth can begin to help.
“Your sex life is like a garden, and it needs to be watered and nurtured to maintain it,” Maxwell explained. So while you may have always felt like you were more of a sexual destiny type of person, perhaps taking a cue from the sexual growth believers out there is just what the doctor ordered.
What Do YOU Think?
Are you a believer in sexual destiny or sexual growth? Does your sex life affect your relationship? How do you keep your relationship happy and healthy? Let us know in the comments!
Hillary Eaton is a writer and editor living in Los Angeles whose work has appeared in VICE, Refinery29, LA Weekly and Complex. She loves writing about food, entertainment, travel and style.