There's a lot of talk about what happens to your sex life in a long-term relationship, and most of it is scary. Some sexperts seem to love nothing more than stoking fears about how hard it is to keep the juices flowing in a monogamous relationship long after you've moved in and/or gotten married. If you're not having sex at least once a week, is your relationship really doomed? Do you actually have to schedule regular sex dates because spontaneity can't survive? After enough time together are folks truly fated to watch their genitals dissolve like cotton candy into a sea of sexless misery? It can't really be all that bad, can it?
A lot of this fearmongering about sex in long-term heterosexual relationships is designed to sell products and generate clicks, but some of it is actually based on the age old issue of keeping things exciting when you've settled into the sometimes unsexy and mundane rhythms of day-to-day life. There will always be those unique couples who find a way to hit it with a frequency well into their 80s, but for most people, it doesn't work like that. I like to think of sex in a LTR like an ocean with a tide that ebbs and flows. Sometimes the tide is high and gets you blissfully, soaking wet, and other times, the shores dry the f*ck up and leave a bunch of sad sea creatures flopping around on the beach to die.
Here are five science-based facts about what happens to your sex life in a long-term relationship. But first, check out our video on sex positions for lasting longer in bed:
1. Men Underestimate Their Partner's Desire For Them
Here's a weird thing that one study found: men tend to overestimate how desirable they are to women they've just met, but underestimate how desirable they are to their long-term partners. After analyzing the sexual desires of nearly 50 couples in LTRs over a period of 21 days, it turned out that male participants didn't think their ladies were as into them as they were. Apparently, this can serve a purpose to keep guys in aiming-to-please-mode, though, so it might not be all bad.
2. Women Tend To Lose Interest In Sex More Than Men Do
One classic cliche has been proven partially true, but it's not that women lose interest in sex in general, but that they lose interest in sex with their partners more than men do. I mean, women need to be feted and excited, what can I say? According to one study by the University of Guelph, for every month the female subjects being studied were in a relationship, their sexual desire decreased by 0.02 percent on the "Female Sexual Function Index." Men's desire, however, remained pretty much the same.
3. Sexual Satisfaction Often Peaks At One Year
This major bummer of a study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior surveyed 3,000 people and found that the majority rated their peak sexual satisfaction at 12 months. Yes, this is a small sample, and yes everyone is different, but there is data to back up the theory that LTRs can put a damper on your sex life right quick.
4. Trying New Things Can Improve Your LTR Sex Life
It might be obvious, but sexual experimentation does provide fuel for your libido's fire. Multiple studies have shown that trying new things from BDSM to new positions to new places does help couples in monogamous, heterosexual relationships keep their libidos inspired. One recent study surveyed nearly 40,000 folks, and found that the most sexually happy couples swore by their sexplorations.
5. Kissing Can Help Keep Your LTR Together
A cute study by Oxford University dug deep into the science of locking lips, and noted that kissing not only increases arousal but can also help bond people together for long term relationships. Researchers found a direct correlation between the amount a couple kissed and the satisfaction rating of a relationship, so if you're looking to keep your LTR juiced up and ready to go, it's time to pucker up.
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