Your relationship was filled with butterflies and bed-rattling orgasms when all of a sudden it happens—a dreaded sexual dry spell. Do you look for ways to rekindle the spark or take it as a sign that things weren’t meant to be? Your answer may determine your odds of experiencing lasting sexual satisfaction, a report in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology reveals.
Researchers focused on two attitudes: the view that great sex requires working with your partner (sexual growth) or that great sex just happens naturally if you’re true soul mates (sexual destiny).
After analyzing the data from six studies, the researchers discovered that people who are willing to put in work (sexual growth believers) are better able to weather sexual setbacks. “They’re less perturbed by these conflicts—not because they discount compatibility, but because they believe they can make it better,” says Jessica Maxwell, Ph.D., lead study author and post doctoral fellow at the University of Florida.
Sexual destiny believers are more likely to panic and question whether their partner is the right fit. “It’s ok if you believe your partner is a soul mate as long as you also believe that you might have to work on things, says Maxwell. “It’s not a mark against your relationship if you have to put in some effort.”
Here, five ways to manage sexpectations to keep sex hotter and happier for the long haul.
Don’t be afraid to work
We’re ok putting effort into other aspects of our relationship—like scheduling date nights or managing money and parenting—so why does it feel like a much bigger issue around sex? “There’s a dysfunctional myth that great sex magically happens if you’ve got chemistry and that’s just not true,” says Maxwell. “Maintaining anything – a career, friendships, relationships – takes work and the same is true for sex.”
A sex rut does not mean your relationship is doomed. “It’s normal for sexual desire to ebb and flow,” says Maxwell. “Anticipating those evolutions over the course of your relationship makes you less likely to freak out during a lull and better able to roll with conflict.”
Read about sex
Articles that emphasize the idea that good sex takes effort (like this one!) were shown to increase sexual growth beliefs in the study participants. “It shows us that these attitudes aren’t set in stone,” says Maxwell. “The more we talk these issues in the open, the more we can dispel unhealthy sex myths,” says Maxwell.
Know yourself – and your partner
Being aware of where you fall on the belief spectrum can help you communicate more effectively. “If your partner is more of a soul mate believer, reminding them that what you’re going through is normal and expressing a desire to spice things up will make them feel like things are getting better,” says Maxwell. And don’t panic if you’re opposites. “As long as one of you is a growth believer, both people can benefit,” assures Maxwell.
Give and take
They want morning sex, but the only thing turning you on in the AM is a venti latte. “There are bound to be times when you and your partner have different needs,” says Maxwell. “The advantage of growth believers is that they’re more willing to make compromises.” Know your boundaries and don’t do anything that makes you uncomfortable, but do be open to new things—whether that’s switching the time of day or trying a different position or location. “Being responsive to your partner’s needs can create a positive feedback cycle that leaves you both feeling more sexually satisfied.”