Research explains why it’s easier for some of us than others.
Shortly after I committed a married friend told me about “the game Penny.” In this game, a pair of newlyweds put a penny in a jar every time you have sex during the first year of marriage. Then, in the second year, the couple takes a penny every time they have sex. Supposedly, the couple will never again have sex enough to empty the bottle. This old wives tale is a common belief that sexual desire decreases during the course of a relationship. But is this true? And what happens to everyone?
Sexual desire and sexual frequency tend to decrease over the course of a relationship. Several large studies have found evidence of this; One study even found that the link between the frequency and duration of sexual relationship was stronger than the link between sexual frequency and age (Johnson et al., 1994). Thus, young or old, sexual desire is likely to peak at the beginning of a new relationship and steadily decline from there.
But is that the end of the story? Once we entered into a long term relationship, we have to sit and accept our warmest days are behind us? According to recent research, not necessarily: There may be some steps you can take to help keep your sexual desire over time.
One such step is to think about the types of goals you have for your relationship. When you think about what you want out of your relationship over the next couple of months, do you think of the fun you want to have with your partner and how you want to grow and develop a deeper relationship? If so, you have strong goals-objectives approach focused on finding positive experiences in one’s relationship. It turns out that having this kind of goals can help people fall damping in sexual desire in their relationships (Impett et al., 2008).
Specifically, people who have a strong approach goals report having more sexual desire in their relations concerning people with the weak. Not only have more sexual desire, to begin with, but are able to maintain that level of desire over six months, while people who have goals of weak approximation experience the most typical declines in sexual desire over time.
Why could approach targets are the magic elixir to keep sexual desire? One reason is that people tend to focus on the benefits they can get from being in their relationship (ie, strong approach goals) also focus on the benefits they can get from having sex. This approach targets strong relationship goals translate into strong approach to sex. People who focus on finding positive experiences also report being more likely to want to have sex for fun, grow closer to your partner and make your partner happy. These targets of sexual approach then translated into a higher sex drive. Who do not expect sex if you are thinking how fun it is and how it makes them feel good about their relationship?
Another reason why goals approach could help people maintain sexual desire in relationships is because people with strong approach goals seem to do a better job of weathering relationship difficulties. Normally, when people experience a negative relationship event, such as having an argument or getting criticized by your partner, experience less sexual desire in relation to days without this kind of negative events. Which, of course, makes sense: Who hopes to have sex with a partner who only criticized them? Apparently, people with strong approach goals. High amounts of sexual desire also feel regardless of whether they had a fight with your partner. They are also better able to maximize the good in their relationship, experiencing increases in sexual desire on the days that have a positive experience, as do something fun with your partner or receive a compliment.
For those of you who are working in emptying the bottle, perhaps it is best to focus on the positive aspects of their relationship-that may be just what you need to start (and keep) their spark.
Does it seem to focus on the positive in your relationship helps your partner’s? Do you know other factors that can help people maintain sexual desire over time? Do you know anyone who actually tries Penny Jar game?